Healthy and Energy-Efficient Housing in Hot and Humid Climates: A Model Design

EPA Grant Number: SU831854
Title: Healthy and Energy-Efficient Housing in Hot and Humid Climates: A Model Design
Investigators: Yang, Xudong , DeMarco, Gerald , Wang, Yunqiu
Current Investigators: Yang, Xudong , DeMarco, Gerald , James, Jacqueline , Laas, Michael , Tang, Shijie , Yan, Wei , Xu, Yue , Wang, Yunqiu
Institution: University of Miami
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Evidence from a variety of research and investigations suggests the contribution of the built environment to the global energy consumption, greenhouse gas emission and materials consumption. Buildings are responsible for using over 17% of the world's fresh water, 25% of its wood produce, and 40% of its material and energy flows. Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a serious air quality problem in homes especially in hot and humid climates. Building green is an opportunity to use our resources efficiently while creating healthier buildings that improve human health, build a better environment, and provide energy and cost savings. Today’s architects and engineers face many decisions when designing buildings. Substantial reduction in future greenhouse gas emissions can be realized through applying innovative energy-efficient and sustainable technologies.


In this project, we will develop an integrated approach for the design of housing in hot and humid climates to ensure occupant’s health, sustainability and reduction of the impact of building materials and building itself on local and global environments. It is aimed at creating a cost effective and comfortable dwelling while conserving resources such as water and energy.


A number of sustainable design concepts and technologies will be implemented in the model house design. A main focus of the house design is to maximize the use of passive cooling instead of mechanical air conditioning to save energy and cost. Active indoor air pollution control and resources saving will be achieved by selecting low-emission “green” materials. An emerging air cleaning method utilizing the ultraviolet/photocatalytic oxidation (UV/PCO) technology will be applied to decompose chemical pollutants and living microbes. With the help of a few existing energy and indoor air quality evaluation programs, the effectiveness of the model house design will be evaluated quantitatively. The overall objective is to reduce the total energy consumption by 50% over the conventional housing designs in hot and humid climate with less than 2% overall cost increase, while providing occupants with comfortable, natural and harmonious indoor environment with significantly reduced indoor pollution exposures. Taking people, prosperity and planet into consideration, the design of this building will create a comfortable balance where all three components can exist and flourish. The house would be able to be reproducible in different sizes and designs. This will be based on certain criteria (energy, environmental, cost) that combine to produce pass or fail results for the specific input. The multi-disciplinary design team includes students and faculty advisors from various disciplines.

Expected Results:

The proposed projects can benefit teaching and learning through courses, training and research. In the end, students should be able to bring technical information into the building design process, thereby help to construct sustainable buildings that would benefit people, prosperity, and planet.

Supplemental Keywords:

indoor air; health effect; VOC; pathogens; clean technologies; engineering; modeling; Southwest; Florida (FL); EPA Region 4, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, indoor air, Ecology and Ecosystems, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, alternative building, sustainable development, waste minimization, waste reduction, green design, green building, ecological design, environmental conscious construction, green building design, alternative building technology, climate control and illumination building, housing design for hot and humid climates, energy efficiency, pollution prevention design, solar energy, architecture, passive cooling, indoor air quality, environmentally conscious design

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report