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Michigan subdivision will measure energy use

Dow Building Solutions, in collaboration with Cobblestone Homes, announced the completion of a 12-home energy efficiency test community in Midland, Mich. It is the nation’s first subdivision designed to generate scientific, whole-house performance data while providing all of the typical comforts of home to its occupants. The new homes will generate comparative data on home energy efficiency based on whole-house insulation, air-sealing systems and real-world living conditions. 

Dow hosted roundtable discussions with key builders from various major housing markets to discuss the experimental design and desired outputs. This collaborative design approach helped to ensure that the data collected will provide answers to the most relevant industry questions, such as how to balance an enhanced building envelope with affordability. 

“In addition to providing high-quality rental housing for area residents, this neighborhood development will give us new insight into building science and energy efficiency through both quantitative and qualitative data,” said Dale Winger, market manager, Dow Building Solutions.

Each test home features state-of-the-art instrumentation for collecting and compiling quantitative data on energy consumption, humidity and moisture levels, heat flow and temperature. In addition, residents will be asked to complete two surveys per year to gather qualitative data about individual comfort and level of satisfaction with the home’s living environment.

“We are excited to partner with Dow on this project to fill a critical information gap in real-world, whole-house data as it pertains to energy efficiency,” said Mark Wahl, co-owner of Cobblestone Homes. “There is a shortage of whole-house data for high-performance builders to refer to when evaluating new products and systems. By bolstering a home’s performance with proven systems, we can help lower the ongoing cost of homeownership and ultimately help raise the value of real estate.”

The 12 test homes are comparable in size, floor plan and all other key features with the exception of the insulating and air sealing systems. Four different systems are in place, each featuring a different combination of Dow insulation and air sealing improvements, including continuous insulation and closed-cell spray foam insulation, among other technologies. Each home meets current building codes or goes beyond code.

All homes will be ready for occupancy by the end of October, and data collection will commence thereafter.