Barriers to Net Zero Housing in the United States
Lala Faiza Mahdi
A Passive House is a house that creates nearly as much energy as it consumes. Though very popular in Europe, the Passive House movement in the United States has been hampered by the cost and availability of passive construction materials, in addition to the lack of skilled labor. However, this is currently changing due to the cost drop of Passive Houses, which is only 5% to 10% higher than the cost of conventional houses. The objective of this study was to identify the major barriers to large-scale adoption of Passive Housing concept in the United States. Data was collected for this study through personal interviews and survey questionnaires with home builders in the Atlanta, GA area. The prime beneficiaries of this study were home-builders who are pro-passive housing but are currently hindered by the system. The study provided recommendations on benefits of Passive House concept, thereby incentivizing the home builders to challenge the existing barriers to Passive Houses. Results from the study showed homebuilders’ preference for EarthCraft Houses rather than Passive Houses due to their less strict standards and feasibility.
Design and Implementation of a Virtual Lab in an Engineering Laboratory Course
Instructional laboratories are an essential part of engineering curricula, where students verify engineering theories and principles through experiments and learn their limitations. However, such laboratories are often limited to various constraints such as time, space, testing equipment, variety of specimens, etc. This paper introduces a web-based hybrid laboratory as an alternative with a unique feature of combining virtual simulations and real data. As a result, students not only receive the benefits of a virtual lab, but also gain the experience of processing raw field data rather than the theoretical data generated from a computer program with built-in formulas. The database is intended to be updated regularly and will continue to expand with new data provided by engineering laboratories and educational programs. A pilot study was conducted in a small class during spring 2017. This paper details the lab development and discusses the initial findings regarding students’ perceptions toward the web-based lab versus a traditional lab as well as the effectiveness of the new method based on the course assessment results.
Mixed Methods in Built Environment Research
Built-environment research problems often require a combination of research tactics and strategies that spans across multiple disciplines. A mixed-methods approach, which draws upon both quantitative and qualitative research methods from multiple disciplines, is often the most appropriate approach for design and construction research. A mixed-methods research design offers a platform to mix both qualitative and quantitative methods from varying disciplines to best solve even the most complex interdisciplinary research problems. One of the key challenges of mixed-methods research is how to best select and mix research tactics to answer the hypothesis and research questions effectively. It is important to find literature and precedent, if possible, to justify the selection of research tactics. This paper introduces the context and rationale for the use of mixed methods, defines the most common types of mixed-methods research designs (and associated challenges and limitations), and also provides an example of how mixed-methods research can be used in interdisciplinary built-environment problems.