Research Publications


Proceedings of the 2nd Residential Building Design and Construction Conference

Authors: Ali M. Memari, Brian M. Wolfgang

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Significant efforts are being expended to develop new materials, products, processes, procedures, and guidelines to improve the state of existing residential buildings. The 2014 Residential Building Design Construction Conference brought together researchers and practitioners from ICF International, American Wood Council, NRMCA, SHoP Construction, Structura, Penn State and Virginia Tech, among others. Proceedings of the conference contain papers or slide sets related to 15 state of the art topics.

Evaluation of Residential Window Retrofit Solutions for Energy Efficiency

Authors: Tim Ariosto, Ali M. Memari

Publication Date: 12/1/2013

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One of the major challenges facing homeowners is the high capital cost associated with fenestration upgrades. Cost prohibitive full window replacements leave designers with questions about the thermal performance of other retrofit options, such as installing curtains, screens, or shutters.  This publication explores different performance criteria of such retrofit options.

Sustainability of Residential Concrete

Authors: Pragati Singh, Dr. Andrew Scanlon

Publication Date: 12/1/2013

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Concrete is an environmentally friendly material.  Its inherent qualities make it a natural choice for sustainable residential construction.  The objective of this report is to highlight the important properties of concrete which make it a sustainable material.  The report also discusses a few of the latest technologies such as insulated concrete forms and pervious concrete that further improve the sustainability of concrete.

Concrete in Residential Construction

Authors: Pragati Singh, Dr. Andrew Scanlon

Publication Date: 12/1/2013

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Concrete is widely used in residential construction for footings, walls, and slabs on ground. Some of the problems that occur in residential concrete construction are discussed in the report and suggestions for avoiding these problems are mentioned. This report also provides a summary of requirements needed to achieve high quality concrete in residential construction. Aspects include concrete materials, proportions, mixing, placing, consolidation, finishing, curing and formwork. The important recommendations of codes pertaining to residential concrete construction are restated.

Performance of Structural Insulated Panels with Different Fasteners and Splines Under Monotonic and Cyclic Loading

Authors: Stefanie Terentiuk, Ali M. Memari

Publication Date: 5/1/2011

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Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are increasingly being used in residential construction, but there is a lack of published independent research regarding SIPs performance under seismic loading. The 2006 International Residential Code also prohibits SIPs construction in high seismic regions. This pilot study provides racking performance data and illustrates on approach to determining seismic response parameters for SIPs systems.

Determination of Seismic Performance Factors for Structural Insulated Panel Shear Walls Based on Fema P695 Methodology

Authors: Luke T. Donovan, Ali M. Memari

Publication Date: 5/1/2011

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This report, presents the results of a preliminary study involving a total of twenty-one 8ft x 8ft shear walls tested under monotonic and cyclic loading. Four 4.5 in. thick SIP panels and one traditional wood-frame wall were tested under monotonic loading according to ASTM E 564-06, and thirteen 4.5 in. thick SIP panels and three wood-frame walls were tested under the CUREE loading protocol according to ASTM E 2126-08.

Analysis of the Wall Bracing Requirements for Pennsylvania

Authors: Tanya Myers, Bohumil Kasal

Publication Date: 5/1/2009

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Description:

This study will determine if a reduced fifty year design wind speed is warranted for the state of Pennsylvania. If the reduced wind speed is feasible through statistical analysis, it will be further determined if the reduced wind speed will comply with the IRC bracing requirements for a typical two story home. Modified bracing requirements will be provided if warranted.

Energy Code Enforcement and Compliance in Pennsylvania: Lessons from the Field

Authors: Mike Turns

Publication Date: 7/1/2008

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Description:

This project consisted of an energy code technical assistance program for municipalities across Pennsylvania, and an assessment of common energy code enforcement and building practices. An additional function was to estimate the energy performance of typical new homes in Pennsylvania through field testing and computer modeling.

Experimental Cyclic Racking Evaluation of Light-frame Wood Stud and Steel Stud Wall Systems

Authors: Ali M. Memari, Bohumil Kasal, Harvey B. Manbeck, Andrew R. Adam

Publication Date: 4/1/2008

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Description:

This report summarizes the findings of an experimental study to characterize the cyclic racking and monotonic loading performance of light frame wall specimens made with either wood studs or steel studs.

Insulated Concrete Masonry Below-Grade Walls

Authors: N. Repka, B. Kasal

Publication Date: 3/1/2008

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Description:

Nine different below-grade wall specimens were constructed, instrumented, and installed in the PHRC BeTL climate chamber with various (1) extruded polystyrene, (2) polyisocyanuate, and (3) glass fiber semi-rigid board insulation configurations. Walls system hygro-thermal behavior was quantified under steady-state soil (both clay and sand) conditions. A large volume of data is presented. Sand had twice higher thermal conductivity as compared to clay. This resulted in a better thermal performance of the structure with clay soil.

Pennsylvania's Alternative Residential Energy Provisions

Authors: Eric Burnett

Publication Date: 5/1/2003

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Description:

The development and publication of the IRC is a very significant initiative for both building codes and housing in the US. Its state-wide adoption in Pennsylvania is another important advance for housing. It is important to note that a choice needs to be made between the IRC, the PA-Alternative and, if so desired, the IECC.

Housing Innovation-The University Housing Research Centers and the Building Codes

Authors: Eric. F. P. Burnett

Publication Date: 1/1/2002

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Description:

The National Consortium for Housing Research Centers sponsored this session at the International Builder’s Show in 2002. Each paper demonstrates that the Housing Research Centers at various Universities do get involved in the regulatory process (often as third party agents). In addition to their research and development involvement, the Universities do have a significant role to play in the delivery and quality of the housing product.

The Concept of a Network of Full Service Housing Resource Centers

Authors: Eric Burnett

Publication Date: 1/1/2002

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Description:

This position paper lays the groundwork for the concept of a national network of regional Housing Resource Centers as a strategic move which represents a promising and practical approach. This report is intended to offer a constructive and collaborative means of resolving a number of significant concerns.

Glazing Proportions for New Housing in PA

Authors: Eric F. P. Burnett

Publication Date: 1/1/2000

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Description:

The proportion of glazing (mainly windows) being used in new housing in Pennsylvania greatly affects thermal performance of the building. This report establishes values for the average glazing ratio (total area of glazing to total exposed wall area) for single-family detached houses and for townhouse units. In general the largest proportion of the glazing is placed on the rear face of the house or town house unit. The front of the house or townhouse unit also has a large proportion of glazing. Much less glazing is placed on the sides of houses and end-unit townhouses.

Climatic Zones for Energy Conservation in PA

Authors: Eric Burnett, Mark Fortney

Publication Date: 1/1/2000

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Description:

In November 1999, Pennsylvania’s Governor Ridge signed the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) legislation into law, creating a statewide building code across Pennsylvania. The objective of this brief project was to review weather records and data on housing starts and, within the very tight constraints on time and funds, assess the IRC 2000 climatic criteria. This determined that Pennsylvania should be divided into three climate zones instead of the six proposed in the IRC 2000.

Thermal Envelope Assessment of Energy Code Provisions for Pennsylvania

Authors: Mark Fortney, Eric Burnett

Publication Date: 1/1/2000

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Description:

Through evaluation of thermal envelope performance, this report demonstrates that the PHRC PA-Alternative Chapter 11 is equivalent to the IRC 2000 and that both are essentially equivalent to the 2000 IECC. The PA-Alternative exceeded the requirements of the 2000 IECC by at least 3.2% and provided a minimum of a 31.7% improvement over existing Act 222 requirements.

Evaluation of Energy Code Trade-offs for PA

Authors: Andy Lau, Mark Fortney

Publication Date: 1/1/2000

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Description:

More than 130 computer scenarios were created to model both the trade-offs and the general thermal envelope requirements of the PA-Alternative Chapter 11 in three Pennsylvania towns for two model homes with conditioned and unconditioned basements and with two different heating and cooling systems. In all cases, it was found that the trade-offs being proposed in the PA-Alternative Chapter 11, Section PA1103.8 result in a reduction in annual energy use relative to the base case constructed to meet IRC 2000 prescriptive standards.

Energy Code Provisions for the Use of Light-Gauge, Cold-Formed Steel

Authors: Eric Burnett

Publication Date: 1/1/2000

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Description:

IRC 2000 code requirements do not ensure satisfactory heat and moisture control for the conditions that prevail in low-rise, new housing in Pennsylvania. This report determined that moisture control provisions affect insulated sheathing requirements and that PA-Alternative Chapter 11 developed by the PHRC addresses moisture control provisions better than the IRC 2000.

Design Issues with Steel-stud-framed Wall Systems

Authors: Robert Bombino, Eric Burnett

Publication Date: 1/1/1999

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Description:

Cold-formed, light-gauge steel framing is an alternative to wood framing for residential and commercial applications; however, steel framing cannot be used as a simple replacement for wood framing in exterior walls. Because steel and wood have very different material properties, they are not interchangeable in framing systems. This report examines the variables contributing to the choice of cold-formed, light-gauge steel framing in residential structures.

Marketing Modular

Authors: E. P. F. Burnett

Publication Date: 1/1/1999

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Description:

An amended version of a presentation given in January 1999 at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Dallas, this report demonstrates how a strategy to support Modular housing has been developed. It was one of five presentations at the session on Housing Innovation—Management, Business and Marketing Practice sponsored by the Consortium of Housing Research Centers.

House Building Industry: Educational Needs Assessment

Authors: Eric Burnett, Robert W. Buddenbohn, Jr.

Publication Date: 1/1/1999

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Description:

House building and residential remodeling are important to the Pennsylvania economy, contributing more than $4 billion annually and employing well in excess of 100,000 people. The education, training and competence of those employed in these industries are therefore important, not only to the people involved but also to each industry and to the residents of Pennsylvania.

Residential Site Improvement and Subdivision Design Standards: A Review

Authors: W. Roy Newsome Jr.

Publication Date: 1/1/1999

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Description:

Current use of subdivision regulations in the Commonwealth and adjacent states are reviewed and with a lens toward exploring the feasibility of establishing statewide standards or “best practices” for residential site improvement that might have applicability in the Commonwealth. This report also suggests actions that might be taken to improve the way in which land development is regulated in the Commonwealth.

The Importance of Modular Housing in Pennsylvania

Authors: Kenneth L. Balliet, Eric Burnett

Publication Date: 12/1/1998

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Description:

Currently 23 manufacturers of modular housing are known to be located in Pennsylvania. Little is known about the size of the modular housing industry, its make-up, or even its product. Two frequently asked questions are: how important is the modular industry, and what is its impact on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?

The Use of Housewrap in Walls: Installation, Performance and Implications

Authors: Eric Burnett, Ed Bosack

Publication Date: 12/1/1998

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Description:

In answer to expressed concerns from industry members, builders, consurmers, home owners, and remodelers, this project answers common questions regarding the use of Housewrap. If housewrap is replacing building paper, what’s wrong with the building paper? Why is housewrap better? What does it do? Does it actually do all the things that it is supposed to do?

Building Code Training Needs in Pennsylvania

Authors: Mark Fortney, Robert Buddenbohn, Jr.

Publication Date: 1/1/1998

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Description:

Existing code-related training needs and anticipated training needs when a uniform, statewide building code is established are identified in this report. These needs are then compared with the code-related training currently available within the state, in order to identify gaps.

Economic Assessment of Basement Insulation for Pennsylvania

Authors: William Bahnfleth

Publication Date: 12/1/1997

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Description:

This study was undertaken to investigate the effectiveness of foundation insulation for both conditioned and unconditioned basements. A foundation heat-loss model of a representative basement was developed specifically for this purpose. Foundation assemblies considered include conventional cast-in-place concrete, cast-in-place concrete with insulating forms, and precast insulated concrete panels.

Below-Grade Construction: Issues and Needs

Authors: Eric Burnett

Publication Date: 12/1/1997

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Description:

Most new housing is currently built with a basement that is not finished and not particularly well suited to future habitation (the “initial house”). It has been estimated that, if the builder can be persuaded to build and get paid for providing a potentially habitable and finishable basement, then the subsequent returns due to finishing the habitable basement area could amount to $400 million a year.

Foundation Wall Systems for Houses

Authors: Eric Burnett, John deGraauw

Publication Date: 12/1/1997

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Description:

The objective of the project was to identify, evaluate, compare, and document the various foundation wall systems that are now available, or soon will be available. The scope of this work was limited to full-height foundation wall systems for new single-family housing in Pennsylvania.

A Builder's Guide to Modular Housing

Authors: Jack Julo, Brennan Glantz, Harvey Manbeck, Ken Balliet, Eric Burnett

Publication Date: 6/1/1997

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Description:

The report is intended to serve as a guide to builders who are considering adopting modular building practices. This guide complements a software product entitled Evaluating the Costs of Modular and Stick-built Construction: Alternative Construction Estimating (ACE).

Flood Damage to Basements: a Starting Point

Authors: Eric Burnett

Publication Date: 6/1/1997

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Description:

This particular report is intended for builders and homeowners who are interested in reducing the risk of flood damage — or minimizing the consequences — to homes in Pennsylvania. It seeks to provide some insights into the issues and to help readers to obtain assistance and to locate detailed information on how to prevent or minimize flood damage.

Evaluating the Costs of Modular and Stick-Built Construction Using ACE

Authors: Ken Balliet

Publication Date: 6/1/1997

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Description:

This project is intended to assist home builders, especially those who do most of the site work- that is stick builders or conventional or traditional builders. This software product is a “what you see is what you get” tool to compare stick built and modular house construction.

Investigation of the Computer Related Resources Available to the Pennsylvania Builder

Authors: C. McIntyre, M.K. Parfitt, E. Burnett

Publication Date: 12/1/1996

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Description:

The information contained in this research report was compiled to assist members of the residential building industry to expand their skills and knowledge in the area of builder-related computer applications. The report identifies a combination of specific items as well as leads to builder computer resources that can be explored based on the specific needs of each type and size of builder firm.

A Technology Transfer Program in Computer-Aided Design for the Residential Building and Construction Industry

Authors: C. McIntyre, M.K. Parfitt, J.H. Willenbrock

Publication Date: 12/1/1995

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Description:

The research efforts of the PHRC concerning this project have established the PHRC as a primary source of information with regard to CAD applications within the residential building industry. In addition, the technology transfer component of this project has gained some national recognition.

Computer-Aided Design for the Residential Builder

Authors: C. McIntyre

Publication Date: 12/1/1995

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Description:

The workshop represents the Technology Transfer component of the CAD research as related to the residential building industry. As part of this research work, the PHRC has reviewed several CAD software programs developed specifically for the residential builder. The software programs were evaluated on their functionality, ease of use, and cost.

The Framework for an Integrated CAD-Based Information Management System for the Residential Building Industry

Authors: C. McIntyre. M.K. Parfitt, J.H.

Publication Date: 11/1/1995

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Description:

This research effort will develop the practical means through which project planning and design information can be collected, organized, and processed for residential land development. CAD-based systems will serve as the engine which drives the information management system.

The Energy Cost Optimized Modular House

Authors: J. Rioux, G. Yuill

Publication Date: 11/1/1995

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Description:

Current residential energy codes specify optimum levels of insulation and other energy conserving measures based on the assumed need of a heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Research in passive solar homes has reduced the load on the HVAC system. If the HVAC system were to be eliminated a dramatic savings would result. This could pay for the additional energy conservation features required to achieve a higher level of efficiency.

A Comparative Analysis of State Mandated Contractor Licensing Examinations

Authors: J. Julo, J.H. Willenbrock

Publication Date: 10/1/1995

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Description:

This report provided information to the Knowledge Work Group which allowed them to build a model of the "average" state licensing examination. Utilizing this model, PBA was able to make an informed decision about the format and content of the examination.

Creep Behavior of Composite Structural Insulated Panels

Authors: S.B. Taylor, H.B. Manbeck, J.J. Janowiak

Publication Date: 9/1/1995

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Description:

Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are being developed as an alternative structural system to conventional framing for residential and light commercial buildings. SIPs also have applications as foundation systems, refrigeration wall systems, and curtain walls covering timber frame and light frame construction. This report quantifies the flexural creep response of SIPs under sustained loading.

Evaluation of Duct Sealing Effectiveness

Authors: G. Yuill, A. Musser

Publication Date: 7/1/1995

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Description:

Inefficiencies in residential HVAC duct systems have been identified as a major source of energy loss in homes by several researchers. They have found that approximately 30-40% of the energy delivered to duct systems passing through unconditioned space is lost along the way through air leakage and conduction losses.

Test Item Development for the PBA Certified Residential Contractor Program

Authors: J. Julo, J.H. Willenbrock

Publication Date: 7/1/1995

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Description:

The object of this report was to assist the Pennsylvania Builders Association with the development of a competency examination for their certified residential contractor program. This report represents the development of a pool of 423 questions.

Management Guidelines for Growth Oriented Homebuilding Firms

Authors: J.H. Willenbrock

Publication Date: 10/1/1994

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Description:

This report provides the homebuilder with the information and procedures that are required, either from a macro- or micro-approach viewpoint, to determine the particular stage of management growth of his/her firm.

Progress Report on the Creep Performance of Structural Insulated Panels

Authors: S. B. Taylor, H. B. Manbeck

Publication Date: 9/1/1994

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Description:

This report describes the progress of the testing protocol and defines the experimental plan to be followed in the theoretical research and physical testing.

Suggested Competency Standards for the Pennsylvania Builders Association State-Wide Builder Certification Program

Authors: J. Julo, J. H. Willenbrock

Publication Date: 8/1/1994

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Description:

This research will assist the Pennsylvania Builders Association, and in particular the Knowledge Work Group, in developing the information necessary to implement a certification program and specifically a competency examination for home builders and remodelers.

A Manufacturer's Reference Guide to the Design and Optimization of Energy Efficient HVAC Systems for Modular Houses

Authors: Phyllis F. Adams

Publication Date: 8/1/1994

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Description:

Research results indicate modular houses can be made more energy efficient and cost-effective while improving profit, production control, and product quality for the modular manufacturer. A fully integrated approach to HVAC system installation is recommended for maximum results. However, manufacturers who prefer a contractor field installation of all but module ductwork (or piping), terminal registers and grills and thermostats can also find the results of this study useful.

Building Healthy Homes: A Builder's Reference Guide

Authors: P. F. Adams

Publication Date: 8/1/1994

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Description:

In the not too distant past, the main concern of prospective homeowners was a structurally sound home that met their needs. Builders were able to easily comply with consumer wishes. Today, residential building practices have become more complicated. In addition to meeting code standards, builders and remodelers have come face-to-face with environmental issues on many levels.

Technology Transfer Manual for Computer-Based Cost Estimating: Edition 3

Authors: J. Julo, J. H. Willenbrock, S. Taylor, M. Syal

Publication Date: 5/1/1994

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Description:

Written for builders, this report can assist by providing an introduction to computer-based estimating terminology and by providing the elementary steps needed to construct a database and the work packages for use in taking off and costing an estimate.

Course Manual for Computer-Based Cost Estimating

Authors: J. Julo, J. H. Willenbrock

Publication Date: 5/1/1994

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Description:

An introduction to computer-based estimating terminology for builders also provides the elementary steps needed to construct a database and work packages for use in taking off and costing an estimate. This course also provides guidelines for buying cost estimating software.

An Optimization Analysis of Residential Energy Systems

Authors: M. G. Suchar, G. K. Yuill, H. B. Manbeck, J. H. Willenbrock, H. E. Carr, Jr.

Publication Date: 8/1/1993

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Description:

Research results will enable the home buying public, and the parties involved in the design/construction process, to use this decision matrix to make more intelligent choices about the most cost effective heating and cooling system options to install in various geographical areas in Pennsylvania.

Site Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems Research Workshop

Authors: D. A. Long, J. H. Willenbrock, C. McIntyre

Publication Date: 12/1/1991

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Description:

Spray irrigation systems provide a viable alternative for marginal residential lots which may contain poor soils, a high water table, or steep slopes. The application and approval process is extensive. The costs are relatively expensive. However, a spray irrigation system may allow the development of a particular site that was previously unbuildable.

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About

The Pennsylvania Housing Research Center serves the home building industry and the residents of Pennsylvania by improving the quality and affordability of housing.

We conduct applied research, foster the development and commercialization of innovative technologies, and transfer appropriate technologies to the housing community.

Pennsylvania Housing Research Center

219 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2341

Fax: 814-863-7304

E-mail: phrc@psu.edu