2nd Residential Building Design and Construction Conference (2014)

Whole Conference Proceedings

Whole Conference Proceedings (2014)

Authors: Various authors

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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The 2nd Residential Building Design and Construction Conference was held on February 19-20, 2014 in State College, PA in conjunction with the 22nd Annual Pennsylvania Housing & Land Development Conference. The proceedings of the 2nd Residential Building Design and Construction Conference contain papers or slide sets mainly related to the following topics: Building Information Modeling, Code Requirements, Deck Design, Economic Aspects of Home Building, Energy Assessment and Audit, Energy Efficiency, Expansion of Existing Buildings, Hurricane Damage, Indoor Air Quality, Life-cycle Assessment, Litigation Issues, Multi-family Buildings, Multi-story Modular Construction, Net-zero Energy Design, Renewable Energy, Residences for Seniors, and Resiliency. Two Keynote Speakers were invited for the conference, Tim McDonald, President, Onion Flats LLC, and Dr. David Crowe, Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders. The conference also had two invited speakers, David Crump, Director of Legal Research, National Association of Home Builders, and Erik Churchill, Project Manager, SHoP Construction. The conference included presentations by university professors, researchers, graduate students, architects, consulting engineers, product manufacturers, and product related associations/councils. As part of this year’s conference, new books related to residential construction were placed on display to introduce recent publication in the field.

Conference Program

Conference Program (2014)

Authors: Brian Wolfgang & Ali M. Memari

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Conference program for the 2014 RBDCC

Papers

Papers are listed in alphabetical order of the first author.

Evaluation of Venetian Blind Attributes for Energy Efficiency

Authors: Tim Ariosto & Ali M. Memari

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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The 2011 Building Energy Databook (DOE, 2011a) reported that buildings use approximately 40% of the nation’s total energy use. One method of reducing this value is to utilize window retrofit solutions. While these products are often selected for aesthetic or privacy concerns, they can also provide an effective means of limiting heat transfer (Ariosto and Memari, 2013). Venetian blinds are one of the more common window retrofit solutions. Several researchers have investigated the thermal behavior of these systems. However these studies focused primarily on the heat transfer mechanisms themselves (typically convection and radiation) without translating results into the metrics often used to compare glazing systems - the U-value and SHGC. This makes it difficult for the layman to utilize their results. This paper provides an overview of an investigation of venetian blind performance conducted using the LBNL WINDOW software. A variety of venetian blind attributes were investigated including geometric attributes such as slat width, angle, and spacing as well as material properties such as conductivity and surface emissivity, on the performance indices (U-value, SHGC) of double glazed window systems. The study demonstrated that venetian blinds are capable of reducing the U-value by as much as 60% and the solar heat gain coefficient by nearly 100% depending on their design features and installation measures.

Superstorm Sandy Storm Surge and Residential Damage Correlation – A case study of Long Beach, NY

Authors: N.L. Braxtan, K. Donohue-Couch, & K. Westphal

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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The New York City region is currently recovering from the damage caused on October 29, 2012 from Superstorm Sandy, the largest low pressure storm ever to make landfall on the US east coast north of North Carolina. This storm tested all aspects to the infrastructure of the communities living close to the Atlantic Coast. Research was performed to review and process data that were collected before, during, and after the storm. The research focused on the city of Long Beach, NY. The scope of the research included three tasks: (1) reviewing and processing hydraulic data collected from USGS tide gages before and during the storm; (2) collecting and processing structural data collected after the storm focused on extent of damage to residential buildings and type of building construction; and (3) correlating, analyzing, and mapping flood data and residential damage utilizing GIS software. The results of this research points to a strong recovery theme– residences designed with heavier and sturdier materials (i.e. brick and stucco facades) are more likely to resist damage during a storm than those constructed with lighter materials (i.e. lightweight siding on wood frames). The damage can be resultant of hydrostatic and buoyant forces due to rising floodwaters, hydrodynamic forces due to flowing water, impact forces due to water waves, as well as hurricane force winds. The extent of damage can also be correlated to the applicable zoning laws. Homes built in accordance with stricter coastal zoning practices are better designed to resist hurricane forces. With Long Beach acting as a snapshot of the Northeastern coast, the research conducted with this city may be applied to many other coastal communities providing invaluable guidance to rebuilding during storm recovery and preparation for future events.

Sunlight Reflected from Double-Paned Low-E Windows, and Damage to Vinyl Siding and Other Materials

Authors: David N. Crump, Jr.

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Direct sunlight has the capability of heating the surface of materials through absorption well above the ambient air temperature. Even so, the heat from direct sunlight does not generally result in significant damage to building materials, beyond effects associated with fading and weathering. Reflected sunlight from modern windows is another matter. Glass in double paned windows may on occasion slightly warp or deflect due to a difference in the barometric pressure between the interior of the glass panes and the outside air pressure. This can create a concavity in the glass. Such a concavity is a normal response to pressure differences, does not affect the performance of the window, and does not constitute a defective window condition. However, the concavity may focus sunlight reflected from the window in a fashion similar to the effect seen when light passes through a magnifying glass. This focused light may land on adjacent building surfaces, and appear as a brilliant star-shaped spot. The concentrated heat generated by the focused reflected sunlight results in surface temperatures well above that encountered from direct sunlight, and has the capability of causing damage to exposed materials, especially those which are plastic based.

Structural Systems and Design Considerations for Low-Rise Generational Specific Housing Buildings

Authors: Jason Dreher & Mark Erdman

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Each day, approximately 10,000 people from the “baby boomer” generation turn 65 years old. Coupled with the expected population growth the DC-Baltimore region, there is a need for both traditional housing, and generational specific housing--but a stagnant economy has made supplying more housing a complicated endeavor. While low building costs have always been a priority, a hyper competitive marketplace has forced developers to differentiate their properties by adding environmentally friendly and sustainable building features, more amenities, and other building characteristics that don’t necessarily contribute to cost efficiency. The onus is placed on the design team to select the most efficient structural system to mitigate the impact of more costly building features. For housing projects less than 10 stories in height, the most efficient structural system is not always obvious, particularly with so many viable options available. The aim of this paper is to explore the design considerations and nuances for generational specific housing, and to present several of the structural systems used for both multi-family and generational specific housing buildings.

Performance Optimization & Development of a Home Modular Delivery System

Authors: Lisa D. Iulo, Aaron Wertman, & Bruce Quigley

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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The objective of this research is to expand affordable home energy performance by developing an optimized modular delivery system, a Kit-of-Parts (KoP), applicable for infill development of new homes and for retrofitting existing homes. This innovative system of components is projected to result in homes that surpass Energy-Star performance for energy-efficiency, have improved indoor air quality, and provide realistic options for aging-in-place. Most notably it will provide a way to deliver high quality, well-designed, small affordable housing projects on a broad scale with a specific aim of revitalizing existing communities. This paper will present precedents, urban analysis and potential solutions for the modular home delivery system, KoP. KoP includes a carefully considered and flexible modular system for new and retrofit homes that can accommodate contextual adaptation to multiple infill sites and program needs. Modular construction can effectively achieve the level of quality control requisite for healthy and energy efficient homes. Multiple KoP modules can be combined and configured for the delivery of new houses and small housing projects on a variety of site conditions. Modular augmentation cores, that include well-integrated mechanical and plumbing systems, will also be advanced. These cores can be employed to save, update, transform and retrofit existing residences, especially in adapting homes for the accessible single floor living desirable for aging-in-place. Another benefit of the KoP is the potential for densification and revitalization of existing towns.

Residential Vertical Expansion of Existing Commercial Buildings Using Modular Construction Methods

Authors: Anthony C. Jellen & Ali M. Memari

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Off-site construction methods may offer advantages over site-intensive construction methods for certain types of vertical expansions, such as those that could add valuable residential units to an existing commercial building. Evaluating the feasibility of a vertical expansion is, in itself, involved. When considering the use of modular construction there are additional items to be reviewed during the conception stage. Vertical expansions can be design intensive depending on the condition of the existing building and the availability of design documentation. Feasibility is highly dependent on a variety of factors such as local ordinance and code, the building construction type and use, as well as the site and existing building conditions.

Review of Different Components of Solar Decathlon House Projects

Authors: Ehsan Kamel & Ali M. Memari

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Reducing fossil fuel consumption and adopting solar energy can mitigate pollution problems and improve living conditions. The required energy to be consumed in a house could be provided by natural resources such as solar and wind energy. Solar houses are good examples of application of solar energy. Studying different components of these houses could lead to better understanding of the performance and application of different materials and methods in construction of even conventional houses, in particular energy efficient design.

In this paper, the past Solar Decathlon Competition projects are reviewed in order to categorize major load-bearing and non-load bearing components. In order to compare and assess the effect of each component, the following criteria as outlined by the solar decathlon competition rules are used: market appeal, affordability, comfort zone performance and energy balance. The components studied in this paper include floor, roof, wall systems, windows and glazing, insulation materials, and structural framing type. Another type of information that is gathered in the study includes available statistical analyses regarding the percentage of different structural framing and insulation types used in the design.

Resuspension and Transport of Allergen-carrier Particles in Residential HVAC Systems

Authors: D.H. Kang, D.H. Choi, P. Kremer, & J.D. Freihaut

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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HVAC systems play an important role in transporting allergen-carrier particles that trigger asthma episodes in residential indoor environments. Unfiltered particles deposited on interior duct surfaces resuspend and transport when disturbed under mechanical vibration and varying air flow conditions in the system. Experimental data is needed to characterize the behaviors of individual allergen-carrier particles in response to HVAC system disturbances and to inform modeling work that will lead to better design and performance guidance for builders seeking to improve indoor air quality in residential settings. In this study, a combination of experimental work in residential settings and in a more controlled laboratory resuspension chamber setup is conducted to characterize the resuspension of allergen-carrier particles deposited in residential HVAC ductwork and to obtain resuspension rate data for individual allergen-carrier particles in various HVAC system environments. The results of this research investigation are important to understanding the behavior of allergen sources in residential homes.

Open Building: Disentanglement and Flexibility as Keys to Sustainable Modularity

Authors: Stephen H. Kendall

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Modular construction’s success lies in the ability to complete a maximum amount of construction work off-site in quality controlled and economically advantageous conditions. Achieving high-performance building envelopes – key to meeting energy conservation goals – is also enhanced in controlled production processes. While these are clear advantages, modular building design and decision-making have till now inhibited real contributions to the goal of built-environment sustainability. The reason is the adherence to the widespread and flawed principle of deciding space plans first and then locking-in those decisions by means and methods of construction. Specifically, MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) systems are conventionally buried inside walls and floors. Being buried, the possibility to defer decisions about or change the location of plumbing fixtures and electrical terminations - during construction or to upgrade later during use - is greatly inhibited. This is especially so in multi-floor, multi-tenant buildings. We know that developers like to defer decisions as long as possible. We also know that user and building owner preferences change. With buried MEP systems, the possibility to adapt buildings to new functions, new layouts, and upgraded MEP systems is greatly inhibited. Therefore, the full potential of modular construction to meet the sustainability and flexibility agendas is not being achieved, and its competitive advantage not fully exploited.

The solution to this dilemma is introduce a new “decision/product bundle” into modular building design. This can be called MODULAR FIT-OUT. The principle objectives are to disentangle the longer-lasting part of a modular building from the shorter-life-span parts by making cabling and wiring connections accessible, and by removing the piping from its usual place hidden in walls and inside the floor sandwich of modules. This is essentially a change in design decision-making. Such decoupling and disentanglement will unleash new products to provide solutions. Two such product solutions are now available: INFILL SYSTEM US’s CableStud and Matrix Tile System (http://www.infillsystemsus.com). Their application in modular construction will provide a competitive advantage in the race to achieve a sustainable and adaptable building stock.

This paper offers a brief history of the evolution of this decision-making model; shows an example of a townhouse organized in an open building way; and illustrates the advantages of INFILL SYSTEM solutions.

An Effort to Refine Regional Energy Assessment Methods in Support of Energy Auditors to Increase Assessment Accuracy and Consumer Confidence

Authors: O.E. Ladipo, G. Reichard, A.P. McCoy, & A.R. Pearce

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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More than 60% of occupied homes in the U.S. were constructed before 1980, often wasting up to 60% of the consumed energy due to building envelope and systems deficits. Homeowners spend billions of dollars annually on energy bills, and there is a potential to dramatically reduce this expenditure. This return can be achieved through energy retrofit solutions applied to homes. Decisions to pursue a retrofit action in a home are commonly based upon energy assessments provided by auditors, who utilize a mix of diagnostic tools, inspection strategies, evaluation practices such as the blower door test, and energy modeling simulations. Although a variety of energy assessment methods are available today to help identify the most promising retrofit opportunities, many barriers and issues still exist for homeowners to take action. One significant factor contributing to a lack of retrofit decision-making by homeowners is the reduced confidence based on the accuracy of energy assessments, which often miss the actual energy consumption by far. This study investigated the current energy assessment methods used by energy auditors in Southwest Virginia in order to reveal insights into their strengths and struggles when conducting assessments and reporting results to homeowners. Energy auditors from four companies who conduct energy assessments were shadowed on routine audits and subsequently interviewed. As a result, common strengths and struggles were identified regarding the processes of individual auditors, the larger local energy assessment community, and the national energy assessment industry in general. The findings identify opportunities for refinement on a regional basis, and areas for additional research towards improving energy assessment accuracy, increasing stakeholder confidence, and promoting more active retrofit decision-making. This study is an initial local effort to potentially create compatible solutions on a nationwide scale.

Pump-Up the Volume - Passive House, Mass Production and Multi-Family: Can HOUSING save the planet?

Authors: Tim McDonald

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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“Affordable” Housing is an oxymoron. “Net-Zero-Energy” Housing is, for most, illusive and impenetrable. “Modular” Housing conjures images of cheap doublewides and trailer parks. “Housing” itself carries it’s own baggage in need of constant qualification: Subsidized Housing, Market-Rate Housing, Student Housing, Senior Housing, Co-Housing, Suburban Housing, Urban Housing…..? With such variety in scale, program, social and economic strata, what possible common denominator would allow us to discuss, if not rethink, the standards by which we envision the design and construction of “housing” in this country, and for that matter, why would we? Given the not-quite universally accepted knowledge that climate change is real; that it’s affects are, at best, a threat, at worst, catastrophic; that it is man-made and therefore solvable; and the less commonly known fact that the making and operating of buildings account for 45% of all Green House Gas emissions in this country (Energy Information Administration 2012), it would seem a reasonable request, as a society, for buildings to take on a much more intentional role in helping to solve this real and present danger. It would also make sense that as a society we would continue to migrate back to urban centers which we all know are inherently more sustainable environments for living. Most European Union countries have approached this issue head-on by significantly increasing urban density, decreasing the value of the car in favor of more sustainable modes of transportation and, with the help of a 30 year old proven building standard initiated in Germany known as Passive House (Passivhaus) (Passivhaus Institute 2014), are redesigning their building codes (EPBD 2014, ECEEE 2014, Passive House US 2014) to require all new buildings to achieve “Net (or Nearly)-Zero-Energy” by 2030. Passive House is a “fabric first”, super-insulated and air-tight approach to the design and construction of buildings which is based on rigid metric standards and meant to reduce energy consumption in any type of building by 70-90% of typical construction. With such radical reduction in energy consumption, these buildings claim to be capable of readily generating the remainder of the energy they need to survive with equally reduced onsite renewable energy generation. We are much slower to act in this country because energy is still cheap, space is more plentiful and our politics are more polarized. The work of Onion Flats, a Philadelphia-based development/design/build company simply attempts to skirt these issues by asking “If it doesn’t cost more to build to this higher design and sustainability standard, why wouldn’t we?” This paper looks at several projects completed, under construction and in development by Onion Flats. Their 15 year evolving practice and interest in the design and construction of sustainable, urban communities proposes a rigorous yet common sense approach to “affordable” housing which gets better with scale, makes more sense in cities, is inspiring to live in, might help save the planet and will leave politicians, developers, builders, architects, academics and students alike asking, “Why would we do any less?!!!!

Life Cycle Assessment of Residential Structures

Authors: Tien Peng & Lionel Lemay

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Building owners, contractors, architects, engineers, and consumers are demanding more efficient and environmentally friendly residential projects and products. However, credible and transparent information on building materials is currently very limited, hampering the ability of designers to conduct an accurate analysis. Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) are increasingly being used to evaluate structures and building products for environmental impact and performance. While LCA is an excellent tool for practitioners to identify environmental impacts, it is not a practical communication device for the design and consumer community. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are starting to appear in the US as the common methodology to report product performance, eliminating the need to wrestle with dozens or more individual sources of a data in the LCA. An EPD is a comprehensive, internationally recognized report that compiles and standardizes technical sustainability information. The US Green Building Council’s LEED v4 Rating System and Architecture 2030 Challenge for Products are starting the demand for EPD’s. This paper considers life cycle assessment methodologies for accounting residential structure’s environmental impacts, the environmental product declarations that lists the relevant product impacts in a clear, consistent, and concise manner, and the international standards that are increasingly integral to production, marketing, and communication strategies across every industry. Material specifiers and design professionals can use these tools to meet today’s carbon-constrained challenges and other environmental goals of residential structures.

Policies to Enhance Resilient Communities

Authors: Tien Peng & Lionel Lemay

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Natural disasters are physically, socially, and psychologically devastating to a community. It can be extremely difficult to rebuild and restore the lives of residents after the destructive event. Moreover, leading scientists now believe our vulnerability will increase due to climate change. Building resiliency, while reducing future greenhouse gas emissions, is a necessary and complementary strategy for dealing with the accelerated rate of adverse events. Where do organizations and governments begin to help its constituents? FEMA, USGS, NOAA, EPA, NIBS and IBHS all offer solutions for disaster preparedness with a myriad of processes or protocols in place for dealing with the unthinkable. What is missing however is the development of specific policies to advance the security and disaster risk reduction of our infrastructure. Resilient infrastructure policies move the community from reactive approaches to a proactive stance where stakeholders actively engage in reducing many of the broad societal and economic burdens that disasters can cause. Investing in resiliency, from strengthening building codes to restoring natural ecosystems, can be surprisingly cost-effective, greatly reducing the impact of natural hazards. Policies affecting building practices can also be instrumental in increasing economic investment in making the socio-economic dimension of our society resilient and climate proof. This paper describes strategies that bring together the tools and activities from many different sectors in an effort to address resilience including: 1. Leveraging green-building momentum to include resilience, 2. Development of ordinances and mandatory building codes, 3. Addressing durability with lifecycle costs and ongoing maintenance, and 4. Increasing and improving infrastructure investment from all stakeholders. By spreading awareness of the resilient options available to help hazard-risk communities to prepare, policy makers can catalyze the building of efficient, livable communities that are healthier and stronger right now.

Integrated BIM Platform for Multi-Story Modular Building Industry

Authors: Issa J. Ramaji, Ali M. Memari, & Ryan L. Solnosky

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Modular construction is known for its economic advantages and high construction quality because of the factory construction environment. Despite the simplicity of the construction of modular single-family dwellings that brings about speedy erection at the job site, the same thing cannot be stated for multi-story modular buildings, especially in design phase. Considering complexities in this industry, more integrated project management is required. Integrated project delivery needs an integrated information management system. Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been used during the past decade to address this need. In this system, different disciplines use an identical BIM model as an input for their analysis and a platform to share their results. Constant information exchanges between BIM models and specialized analysis and design software has to be reliable to have a flawless integrated BIM model. National BIM Standard (NBIMS) is established to address this need and has been used in many different types of construction so far. Using NBIMS for standardization of information exchanges in modular building industry will be very helpful for integrated application of BIM application in modular building projects. In this paper major components of the NBIMS that include Information Delivery Manual (IDM)/Model View Definition (MVD), Industry Foundation Class (IFC), and International Framework for Dictionary (IFD) will be discussed. Next, the methodology for extending the NBIMS will be discussed. Then, for more clarification, the efforts for extending NBIMS in structural analysis/design and precast/prestressed construction areas are reviewed. At the end, the processes for information exchange standardization in modular building industry are discussed.

Adoption Patterns of Energy Efficient Housing Technologies 2000-2010: Builders as Innovators?

Authors: A.R. Sanderford, A.P. McCoy, M.J. Keefe, and D. Zhao

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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The U.S. housing industry is often considered an innovation laggard. Whether because of endogenous or exogenous risks, homebuilding firms have traditionally resisted innovation. However, recent evidence suggests builders’ material selections have been growing more innovative—more specifically, these selections have been growing greener. Though little empirical work exists that measures and analyzes such phenomena, the paper will report on a national study2 of “green building” innovation in residential construction from 2000-2010. This paper asks two research questions: 1) to what extent are builders, if any, adopting higher efficient building products over their traditional economic substitutes? And 2) what are the market, demographic, and regulatory factors associated with homebuilders’ green and energy efficient technology selections? The authors analyze data from the National Association of Homebuilders’ Builders’ Practices Survey (BPS) from 2000 to 2010, estimating a series of logit models focusing on builders’ choices to install high performance building technologies including PEX piping, custom sized-HVAC systems, programmable thermostats, and high efficiency insulation. This research builds both methodologically and substantively upon the foundation laid by Koebel et al (2013) and McCoy et al’s (2013) work examining builders’ choices to adopt high efficient windows and Sanderford et al (2013) paper examining factors associated with the diffusion patterns of Energy Star certification in new homes.

Structural BIM Processes for Modular Multi-story Buildings in Design and Construction

Authors: Ryan L. Solnosky, Ali M. Memari, & Issa J. Ramaji

Publication Date: 2/19/2014

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Modular construction and prefabrication is a growing trend in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Industry based on a series of technological developments and its historical exposure to design and construction practitioners. Some of these technological developments come from a computing side such as Building Information Modeling and advanced parametric studies or in new methods of structural modularity in the systems. Modular systems are inherently different in structural behavior, construction, design, and modeling in relation to traditional stick-built structures. Methods to develop efficient solutions differ just as their other attributes do. Furthermore, the inclusion of modular and prefabrication design notions into the design process is often limited based on a lack of well thought out processes; the same can be said for the construction phase. Because of the need for better understanding of how modular systems function and interact with systems is limitedly known, defined processes in how to account for these behaviors can reduce the current high variability that relates to system effectiveness and project teams willing to implement it. This paper will focus on describing current design and construction processes and identify where modular aspects need to be considered at different lifecycle phases such as conceptualization design where the scale of modularity must be determined as an example. Beyond the current status of industry processes, recommendations will be made on where more effort needs to be placed on defining more detailed processes around new technologies like Building Information Modeling. Additionally, the ties between defined processes and how they help software developers will be discussed.

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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

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Phone: 814-865-2341

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E-mail: phrc@psu.edu