Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Field Evaluation: Summerset Development

Project Summary

Final Report (PDF) November 2003

Summerset is a 700+ home development in Pittsburgh built on a reclaimed slag heap. It is considered one of the best examples of smart growth as an inter-city infill project, and also incorporates many other environmentally-friendly features.

Homes in the Summerset community.PATH’s objectives are to better understand the role technologies play in the buyer’s decision-making process and to develop materials for builders to use in marketing innovative technologies. A market research plan has been developed to guide the project. PATH is conducting this evaluation in cooperation with Summerset Development and IBACOS. IBACOS is providing assistance on the home designs through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America program.

Homeowners provide input on technologies used at Summerset.The approach used at Summerset includes preliminary focus groups and assistance to the developer in the development and analysis of a consumer survey. The survey will include a group of Summerset lottery participants (potential buyers) and the general population in the Pittsburgh area. The two groups will be compared to identify what percentage of the population the innovators represent, and develop materials for builders to use in targeting them, as well as the general public. This approach will serve as a model for other PATH projects.

Technologies and techniques being addressed in the market research include:

gas-filled windows
mechanical ventilation (including HRVs)
Icynene insulation
air filtration systems
trim-able floor trusses
fiber-cement siding
engineered duct systems
high-efficiency HVAC equipment.

The consumer survey was sent out during the last week of August 2003 to a sample of owners of recently-built homes, using the Allegheny County Tax Assessment Internet database. The results will be collected and forwarded to Newport Partners LLC for analysis. PATH expects to identify what motivates different categories of buyers to identify the role that innovative technologies play in their decision-making process. This will lead to the development of guidance for builders in marketing technologies to the general home-buyer population and the more-innovative buyer.

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