2009-2010: In collaboration with Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHfH), this student team developed design modifications to the standard GSHfH house to reduce energy consumption without significantly increasing cost or construction complexity.
The team conducted an energy audit and energy bill evaluation on a standard GSHfH house. After identifying the building envelope as the most significant factor because of its role in heat loss and solar gain, the team focused on three specific areas: insulation, window placement/orientation, and sun spaces. The team built several physical models to test the effects of improperly installing insulation and to evaluate the effects of window placement. The team then developed a MATLAB program to model the energy consumption of a GSHfH house, incorporating solar gain, heat loss, infiltration, surrounding shading, weather, and sun space options. Combining their knowledge from these simulations and experimental work, the team created and refined a new set of floor plans to reduce energy use – up to 45% over the standard GSHfH house.
The team delivered the new floor plans to GSHfH along with modifications for different site orientations and a Guide to House Orientation to aid in lot selection and house orientation. GSHfH has already incorporated some of the team’s recommendations in its most recent construction project.