Public Release: 

ORNL to work with Habitat on energy efficient houses

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 17, 2002 - An effort to construct up to 20 local Habitat for Humanity houses with state-of-the-art energy efficient building technologies was announced today during a ceremony at Lenoir City's Harmony Heights subdivision.

The technologies will be tested through the Buildings Technology Center at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

With four Habitat homes utilizing ORNL-tested technology already constructed in the subdivision, the new houses - which will showcase different technologies -- will provide living laboratories for developing integrated building systems that lead toward net-zero energy houses of all types by 2010.

Jeff Christian, director of the laboratory's Buildings Technology Center, said ORNL staff and the area Habitat group are looking forward to opening a new era of construction in the Loudon County neighborhood.

"We have overwhelming support for this program," he said.

Christian also explained that the effort is part of DOE's Building America program, which has resulted in more than 14,000 homes around the country with energy efficient and affordable features, leading to zero net energy houses.

"Building America designs for this area can save from 50 to 70 percent on energy requirements and at little or no extra cost to the builder over his previous construction methods," Christian said. "The majority of the new houses in this development will be prototypes of zero net energy designs. The zero net energy houses will ultimately be equipped to export more energy produced on site than imported from off-site on an annual basis. Enabling production technologies include solar photovoltaics, biomass-microturbines, fuel cells and thermal and electric storage."

The first net-zero-energy home in the Harmony Heights Subdivision now under construction will use structural insulated panels, a raised metal-seamed roof, a biomass-fired microturbine, two kW of PV solar panels and a hydronic heating system.

Christian said the Habitat houses will integrate extensive energy saving technologies and systems now available and under development at DOE and around the country. Additional plans call for the Tennessee Valley Authority to test advanced technologies in some of the houses.

"These houses will show builders, utilities and home owners the 'leapfrog' integrated technologies available today, as well as those on the near horizon that will be marketable by 2010," Christian said.

"We hope to encourage local contractors to become DOE's Building America partners and provide them an opportunity to learn the cutting edge of energy efficient construction," Christian said. "The bottom line is an opportunity to construct more energy efficient homes and take advantage of the national exposure offered by DOE's Building America program."


ORNL is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.

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