Product Technology Development (NAHB Research Center)

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The NAHB Research Center is a nonprofit subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which has 200,000 members, including more than 50,000 who build more than 80 percent of all U.S. homes. The Research Center is a technology development leader in the home building industry. Federal, State, and local government agencies, manufacturers, builders, and remodelers rely on the expertise at the heart of the Research Center.

The Research Center has leveraged PATH resources with industrial funds to perform collaborative research projects, develop major dissemination tools, and increase general awareness of housing technologies among members of the housing industry. Research Center staff include scientists, engineers, economists, architects, and planners. The links below provide some of the projects that PATH and the NAHB Research Center have developed, broken down into three categories: Innovative Structural Materials and Design Research for Residential Construction; Advanced Residential Building Technology; Cooperative Research with Industry

Innovative Structural Materials and Design Research for Residential Construction

With funding from PATH, the NAHB Research Center provided thermal, acoustical, and fire testing information for light framed steel construction and continued to provide design information for light framed wood construction.

The Program for Research and Optimum Value Engineering Program (PROVE) (read PDF report) addresses the need to improve the efficiency of engineered residential construction and the technical understanding of conventional construction by pursuing two key areas of activity:

Maintain and coordinate a prioritized research agenda
Perform engineering research to optimize design
A comprehensive design guide was published; titled Residential Structural Design Guide: 2000 Edition.

In coordination with the PATH program, PROVE also supported the development of an ISO 9000 Framing Quality Manual that is being pilot tested and implemented. An engineering design software implementing research findings and accepted engineering practice is under development.

Continued research and engineering to improve housing:

Coordinate the program’s research activities and dissemination of findings to residential engineers and architects.
Coordinated research activities and dissemination of findings to residential engineers and architects. Evaluated connection requirements in conventional construction. Connection requirements are a key component of efficient conventional wood framed design and are important to a home’s performance against wind and seismic loads. See Economical ICF To Cold-Formed Steel Floor Connections, May 2001 on HUD USER.
Developed efficient seismic wall construction provisions and lintel reinforcement details.
Continued needed innovation in the design of conventional U.S. houses.
Enhanced the dissemination of advanced design technology to the residential design community.
Developed technology to support an improved ground freezing depth map for efficient foundation design, and promoted the use of Frost Protected Shallow Foundations (FPSF). Worked with ASCE to develop a design and construction standard for FPSF (ASCE 32-01).
Developed optimized design and construction strategies for site-built wood-framed shear walls.

Advanced Residential Building Technology

NAHB Research Center conducted a housing performance assessment (pilot study) on product durability, homeowner maintenance, history of wind damage, occupant comfort/health, etc. Published two reports: Durability by Design, A Guide for Residential Builders and Designers, (May 2002), and Assessing Housing Durability: A Pilot Study [PDF], (Nov 2001), for U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Facilitated the model building code adoption of prescriptive design and construction methods for Frost Protected Shallow Foundations (FPSF). Worked with code officials and builders on fine-tuning details, and evaluating performance of FPSF.

Published Performance Comparison of Residential Hot Water Systems [PDF] (Nov 2002). Results of weekly performance testing and annual simulations of electric water-heating systems are presented.

Advanced an innovative concept for designing prefabricated, engineered shear walls for housing production to improve safety, affordability, and quality relative to high-wind and seismic performance. Read about field results — Quadrant Homes and Woodinville Lumber: “Field Evaluation of the Perforated Shear Wall Design Method Applied in Panelized Construction”.

Completed a publication for HUD and EPA called The Practice of Low Impact Development. The publication focuses on technologies that affect both the cost impacts and environmental issues associated with land development.

Cooperative Research with Industry

Currently funded through an EPA Cooperative Agreement (with additional funding from Bielinski Homes) to develop information packets on Low Impact Development (LID), conduct an educational session on LID at the 2004 National Green Building Conference in Austin, Texas, and develop and deliver LID one-day workshops at four locations in the United States for developers and public officials.

Developed an XML (Extensible Markup Language) standard for the lumber supply chain. These standards can serve as a foundation for including other vertical sectors – such as millwork, fenestration, appliances, plumbing, HVAC – with the aim of becoming a single, unified communication standard for the home building industry.

Developed the Marketable Affordable, Durable, Entry-Level Home (MADE) Demonstration Site with the participation of system suppliers, product manufacturers, and distributors. One of the homes, The LifeWise Home, provides an example of housing that can meet the changing needs of residents as they age, applying the principles of Universal Design.

Conducted tests on moisture analysis, air change measurements, and moisture and temperature monitoring.


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