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PATH: Advanced Housing for the 21st Century

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Council on Environmental Quality

PATH: Advanced Housing for the 21st Century

PATH's primary goal is to dramatically improve the energy efficiency, quality, durability and affordability of new and existing homes.

The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) brings together federal agencies, state and local governments, and the building, finance and insurance industries to spur technological innovations for the next generation of American housing. Federal agencies, with policy leadership provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Energy, will serve as a catalyst, working with the private sector to identify promising technologies and swiftly bring them to market. Some examples: ultra efficient heating and cooling systems, a new generation of windows that provide as much insulation as most walls today, and roof shingles that generate solar power.

PATH partners will work together on:

Collaborative Research on Next-Generation Technologies. PATH partners will collaborate to develop and evaluate technologies that can achieve both performance and cost goals. A national Conference on the Future of the American House in early 1999 will help set the research agenda. Federal research related to residential housing will focus on PATH goals and the evolving research agenda.

Moving Technology from the Laboratory to the Marketplace. Because the housing industry is large and dispersed, it can take 10 to 25 years for a new technique or product to gain wide acceptance. PATH aims to cut that time in half by removing market barriers, developing national testing and evaluation standards and streamlining approval processes. A blue-ribbon panel made up of experts from among PATH members will investigate regulatory and other barriers. Federal, state and local organizations are committed to helping remove unnecessary barriers and encourage adoption of cost-effective new technologies.

Stimulating Wider Use of Existing Products. One way to move technology to markets more efficiently is to ensure that accurate information about innovative products and experience with their use is readily available. PATH will help get the work out to builders, suppliers and consumers through a new website available in early June (http://www.pathnet.org). Information for consumers about making their homes more energy efficient is available now at (http://eetd.lbl.gov/path).

PATH Goals

Using voluntary approaches, the partnership aims to develop innovative housing components, designs and production methods and reduce by half the time needed to move quality technologies to market. Our goal is that within a decade, technologies widely accepted in the market will make it possible to produce housing that is affordable and at the same time to:
  • Cut the environmental impact and energy use of new housing by 50 percent and reduce energy use in at least 15 million existing homes by 30 percent or more.
  • Improve durability and reduce maintenance costs by 50 percent; and reduce by at least 10 percent the risk of loss of life, injury and property destruction from natural hazards; and,
  • Reduce the monthly cost of new housing by 20 percent or more.

PATH Partners

More than three dozen companies and major trade associations are joining with federal agencies and state and local governments as charter members of this new partnership.

Federal partners will coordinate their efforts to serve as a one-stop shop for other PATH partners and to support a range of PATH activities. Federal participants are: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor; the Environmental Protection Agency; NASA; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health; and the National Science Foundation. HUD will have responsibility for the day-to-day management of PATH, while HUD and DOE will jointly provide federal policy leadership for the partnership.

  • More than $70 million is already committed, and the Administration has requested over $100 million for Fiscal Year 1999 to develop and test new building systems, equipment and appliances.
  • The 1999 funding request includes $10 million in additional funds for HUD's work to further expand the PATH partnership and move more quickly toward achievement of its goals.
  • A new program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will develop tools to evaluate the performance of new housing technologies.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will help communities struck by emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes use disaster-resistant technologies when rebuilding.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency will expand its Energy Star residential program to encourage improvement in the home energy efficiency and resulting increased comfort, improved indoor air quality, and improved construction quality.

Industry partners, including the National Association of Home Builders, the Manufactured Housing Institute, and the Institute for Business and Home Safety, will make good-faith efforts to make products meeting PATH goals widely available. In addition, they will:

  • Work with federal and state agencies to test new designs and share testing costs.
  • Share non-proprietary information on costs, benefits and other characteristics of building innovations.
  • Test experimental technologies in pilot homes and more mature technologies on a larger scale.
  • Share in the costs of research and development.

State and local government partners will work with the private sector to carry out pilot projects and will promote wider adoption of promising technologies. They will:

  • Find ways to streamline permitting and other approval processes to ensure rapid adoption of PATH technologies.
  • Provide personnel and other resources to ensure the success of pilot projects.
  • Provide flexibility in local building codes to promote PATH goals.

PATH Pilot Projects

Several major developments around the country -- some being planned, others already under way -- will serve as the first PATH pilot projects. They include:

    Los Angeles -Village Green, adjacent to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station, is the largest transit-based development in Los Angeles County. With help from PATH, the 186 single-family homes will be at least 30 percent more energy-efficient than typical new homes. In addition, the L.A. Department of Water and Power will help pay the of cost of super-energy-efficient refrigerators, washing machines and other appliances.

    Tucson - The city is working with Community of Civano LLC on the largest "sustainable" master-planned development in the United States. A solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant has been built. Construction of a 20,000 square-foot neighborhood center is under way, and work will soon begin on the first of 2,500 homes incorporating advanced materials and energy and telecommunications technologies.

    Pittsburgh - Summerset at Frick Park, a "new traditional" neighborhood of 713 homes, will be built on a decontaminated "brownfields" site 5 miles from downtown. The project, a public/private partnership, will incorporate advanced materials and technologies and the homes will use at least 35 percent less energy than required by local standards.

    Denver - The City and County of Denver have committed to work with the PATH program to develop and incorporate sustainable development guidelines at the redevelopment of the former Stapleton Airport; and to develop a PATH pilot project at one or more sites in the community, including as possible sites the former Lowry Air Force Base or the former Stapleton Airport.

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PATH: Advanced Housing for the 21st Century

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