Sharon Garners $4.9 Million to Test Green Home Retrofits

The Department of Energy has awarded the Fraunhofer USA Center for Manufacturing Innovation, led by Professor Andre Sharon (MSE, ME), a grant of $4.9 million to demonstrate a super-insulated wall retrofitting process in affordable housing sites across Vermont, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

Sharon’s center is one of seven awardees of a grant aimed at greening the building sector, which is responsible for more than one-third of America’s carbon emissions.

“Faster and more efficient construction and renovation methods that improve our nation’s supply of affordable housing are the kinds of transformative innovations we need,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

The Fraunhofer Center will collaborate with Green Building Alliance, Steven Winter Associates, and a variety of suppliers to combine prefabricated panel-block wall insulation with a portfolio of high-performance building technologies to create a comprehensive, single-family deep energy retrofit for better-looking, more energy-efficient exterior walls and windows.

To minimize costs, the team will use digital tools such as computer-aided design techniques for manufacturers and virtual-reality training for installers. The goal is to complete the retrofits to five single-family housing developments, in climates ranging from cold to very cold, in under two weeks, at a cost of $25 per square foot.