Design Support for Green Building in the Wildland-Urban Interface to Enhance Sustainability and Fire Resistance

EPA Grant Number: SU836125
Title: Design Support for Green Building in the Wildland-Urban Interface to Enhance Sustainability and Fire Resistance
Investigators: Bormann, Noel E
Institution: Gonzaga University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Awards , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development


This project will develop a suite of design support tools for builders and owners that integrates state of practice knowledge in Green Building with fire damage mitigation recommendations from the USDA Firewise Program, and adds innovative specific fire resistance techniques. The integrated approach will promote more sustainable housing that will require less energy to construct, less energy to operate, and will increase resistance to wildfire. Specific additional features for fire resistance will also be evaluated such as fire-resistant shutters.


The sustainable well-being of communities is enhanced when using economically feasible Green Building houses because less energy is consumed and life cycle costs are controlled. People and communities face great stress when homes are lost to wild fire. Even without any tragic loss of life, a family that loses a home must move into other less desirable housing, schooling is disrupted, resources are lost, and wastes from daily activities increases. A family in a home that does not burn can: remain in the home, function in the community, assist neighbors, more quickly overcome the disruption and then return to a state of prosperity. Increasing the resistance to fire also prevents generation of solid waste resulting from construction, reduces debris and reduces the health impacts on residents. The design support tools this project produces will be provided to community organizations in north-central Washington so owners/builders can make sound economic and sustainable decisions about what housing best meets the needs of the owner/resident. Further dissemination of the design tools would be useful in many areas of the western US with similar climate, geography and an exposure to fires in the Wildland-Urban Interface.

Expected Results:

This project will use analysis of a suite of three to five scenarios to predict the construction costs, expected insurance premiums, and modeled energy costs combined with a statistical estimate of losses from fire. Based on the scenarios, recommendations of building materials, fire resistant techniques and fire mitigation can be selected for the communities affected by wildfires similar to those that occurred in 2014 and 2015 in north-central Washington. Owners/builders can use these design tools to improve: social resiliency of the people, economic benefits from resource and energy conservation, and preservation of resources and materials resulting from reduced fire losses.

Supplemental Keywords:

solid waste, waste reduction

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report