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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Publications search. Newspapers on the laptop. Online news. Isolated.FSEC provides unbiased, third party research findings to the construction industry with an emphasis on the hot humid climate, including simulation studies, monitored field experiments, and laboratory research.

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WHOLE-BUILDING INTEGRATION

High-Performance New Homes

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. High-performance new homes achieve 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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Affordable Housing Retrofits

Real estate mortgage concept with small plastic house models on top of stacked coins.Affordable housing should be affordable to live in, not just affordable to buy. Energy efficiency and building science measures for safety, durability, and indoor air quality help reduce long-term costs. UCF’s Building America-Partnership for Improved Residential Construction (BA-PIRC) worked with local government and non-profit housing providers renovating foreclosed homes to be sold as affordable housing. The research identified best practices to bring the homes on par with new construction from a performance standpoint.

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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 14 million Florida residences use more than 50% of Florida’s electricity. Therefore, the Florida Building Code is 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 to 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 role 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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CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

Smart Water Heater Project

AO Smith smart water heaterPARTICIPANTS NEEDED! Do you own a residential “smart” water heater or plan to purchase one soon? If so, we’d like to talk to you. You have the opportunity to be a part of study federally-funded study in the Southeast that will look at how smart water heaters can help to create a more flexible and efficient electrical grid. See if you are eligible to be a part of something big, and earn some cash too. Learn More: Smart Water Heater Project

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.

Learn More: Indoor Air Quality Research Study