Designing and Demonstrating Sustainable Multi-Family Attached Housing

EPA Grant Number: SU833192
Title: Designing and Demonstrating Sustainable Multi-Family Attached Housing
Investigators: Melcer, Mathew
Current Investigators: Melcer, Mathew , Ho, Ly Chan , Dibble, Brian , Nicoletti, Diana , Girrard, Hillary , Hall, Lauren , Peck, Leah , Moller, Ryan
Institution: Washington State University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2006 through August 31, 2007
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


This project aims to design and build sustainable, multi-family attached dwellings. The purpose, through design and construction of demonstration housing units, is to develop a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly housing that is both innovative and minimizing impact on human health and the environment. This project will evaluate the environmental, human health, and economic costs and benefits associated with several green building technologies including straw bale, insulated concrete forms, or a hybrid design of these two technologies versus conventional wood framing methods. The ultimate goal includes maximizing energy efficiencies in the structural design, materials, appliances, and landscape design; eliminating materials that generate hazardous by-products during manufacturing, use, and disposal; and responding to external environmental factors such as passive heating and cooling, daylighting, site orientation, and efficient storm water management. These strategies will all contribute to minimizing the environmental impacts associated with constructing multi-family dwellings – a challenge that has not been widely studied from this prespective.

Expected Results:

Researchers will use laboratory and field studies, literature searches, and environmental indices to optimize multi-family housing structures for environmental and economic considerations using green building technologies. In particular, the study will investigate how strawbale construction and insulated concrete panels can be used to improve the environmental impact of the building’s operation and maintenance. In addition, this study will examine the role of landscape decisions in passive storm water runoff. Consistent with Goal 5, this research is expected to advance the overall scientific understanding of the interactive effects of multiple green building technologies on the combined environmental impacts of a multi-family house. This project will provide a science-based assessment of a systematic design for attached housing the considers environmental and economic impacts.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, sustainable housing, sustainable development, green design, environmental conscious construction, green building design, alternative materials, straw bale, construction material, pollution prevention

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report