Buildings Research

Infared thermography of two different house roofing systems; the top one shows white, red and yellow colors, indicating heat present, while the bottom image shows shades of blue, indicating cool temperatures, photo.The Buildings Research program is diverse with experience in heating and air-conditioning systems, insulation and envelopes, lighting and daylighting, appliance efficiency, and control systems.
The integration of energy-efficient building systems produces high-quality and energy-efficient homes, schools and commercial buildings.

Building Research Capabilities

Two side-by-side single family block homes painted light blue with gray shingled roofs.Performing buildings research in a controlled environment is vital to quality research. UCF researchers have several on-site, full-scale residential laboratories that have been constructed with or retrofitted for short- and long-term performance data monitoring.

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WHOLE-BUILDING INTEGRATION

High Performance New Construction

New home construction, cement block walls with wooden roof truss. Roof open with blue sky.High performance housing brings together the best of high efficiency equipment, high performance building components, and high attention to detail. Goals may be generally described as achieving very low energy use while safe-guarding occupant health and safety, enhancing building durability, and improving occupant comfort in comparison to minimum code-compliant homes.

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High Performance Existing Homes

Danny Parker's House with solar panels on the roofAdopt cost-effective, off-the-shelf, best practices for energy efficiency and building science to reduce risk and capitalize on opportunities in Florida affordable housing renovations. When fully implemented, these proven practices produce approximately 30% whole house efficiency improvement.

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Commercial Buildings

A beautiful new upscale shopping center with no tenants.Although commercial and institutional buildings vary greatly from one to another in size, use, and type of construction, there are general recommendations for creating energy-efficient commercial buildings in a hot and humid climate.

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Building Codes and Standards

3d illustration of crane over house plan background with code sign

More than 50% of Florida’s electricity is used in 14 million plus residences and the energy provisions of the Florida Building Code have been a key tool in achieving statewide increases in energy efficiency. Since the late 70s, the state of Florida has called upon UCF researchers to analyze Florida’s building energy code and recommend possible changes that would increase residential efficiency.

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RESIDENTIAL BUILDING COMPONENTS

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

An Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERC) mounted in the wooden rafters of a new residential home under construction.

Heating and cooling equipment, and the distribution of conditioned air through duct systems, play a key roles in creating an indoor environment that is healthy, comfortable, durable and energy efficient. UCF researchers study these systems and how they are impacted by other building elements such as mechanical ventilation.

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Water Heating

Researcher makes adjustment to the top of a data monitored water heater in side-by-side testing, photo.Side-by-side testing of seven different residential water heating systems in an unconditioned building that resembles and can exceed garage-like temperatures in Central Florida was performed over several years. Categories of systems include: electric, renewable, and natural gas.

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Miscellaneous Electric Loads and Lighting

Clothes and towels in the dryer, photo.Miscellaneous Electric Loads (MELs)—appliances, entertainment centers, computers, and fans, or any devices other than those used for space heating or cooling, water heating, or lighting—generate heat as a by-product inside the home, thereby increasing space conditioning costs in cooling-dominated climates.

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Roof Assembly

FSEC engineer Carlos Colon installs an innovative roof integrated solar water heater at the underside of the roof decking at the FRF.Roof assembly—roof finish, radiant barrier, attic ventilation, attic insulation, knee walls, and air sealing at the ceiling plane—research includes, comparative laboratory investigations, field studies in commercial and residential buildings, and the development of algorithms for modeling roof assembly effects. Radiant heat gain from the roof assembly is a major cooling load in the hot humid climate.

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Fenestration

Large window panes with sun shining through.Fenestrations are glazed apertures in buildings, and include conventional windows, roof skylights, glassed doors, clerestories, roof monitors, tubular skylights, and sloped glazings of different kinds. Previous research includes solar heat gain and its effects on the thermal performance of buildings and energy costs for heating and cooling, studies of daylight illumination, as well, performance assessments of complex piped daylighting systems.

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PROJECTS

Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) Commercial Buildings Energy Code Field Study

Man with yellow hardhat, holding blueprints, standing in front of tall commercial building under construction.

What is the potential value of increasing compliance with the energy code?

In this project, UCF researchers will assist in developing and field testing a methodology to accurately and cost-effectively measure the opportunity for energy and cost savings through increased energy code compliance in commercial buildings. Researchers will also develop training and educational materials to address common compliance issues. Florida Study Contact: Karen Fenaughty at  kfenaughty@fsec.ucf.edu or 321-638-1474.

Learn More: Florida Recruitment Flier and Fact Sheet

Indoor Air Quality Research Study

Researcher standing on ladder testing mechanical ventilation.

FSEC Energy Research Center is conducting a study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to learn about the indoor air quality in new homes. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are partners in this study.

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