Prototyping Begins of FEMA’s Next Generation of Disaster Relief Housing

Testing is underway of new generation of manufactured housing designs for FEMA's use in disaster relief.

Press Release (ePRNews.com) - NEW YORK - Nov 15, 2017 - Factory Builders Help FEMA Develop NextGen Disaster Relief Housing Designs

Under contract to FEMA, Systems Building Research Alliance (SBRA), with technical support from The Levy Partnership (TLP), is conducting research to develop the next generation (NextGen) of manufactured homes designs used to temporarily house disaster survivors.

Regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), manufactured homes are a flexible housing solution that FEMA can use anywhere in the 48 contiguous states. Factory homebuilders are in the business of producing quality, affordable homes that, conveniently, are made to be transported. With more than 150 manufactured homebuilding facilities in the nation, there is no shortage of potential supply.

Getting manufactured homes to where they are needed quickly is more than just a complex, logistical task. Disasters can occur almost anywhere. In response, SBRA is developing a single, robust design (in four footprints to accommodate a range of household sizes) that meets the demands of a wide range of climates, site conditions and occupant needs. In the past, the range of design factors led FEMA to inventory as many as 25 different home “types,” each targeting a specific set of conditions. This NextGen manufactured home will be suitable for delivery anywhere in the continental U.S., simplifying logistics, minimizing cost, reducing waste and allowing FEMA to warehouse a smaller, more flexible and more durable fleet of homes.

The project presents a formidable building science and design challenge: develop one method of construction, one set of product specifications, employ a single heating and cooling system and one structural design, while incorporating an ambitious list of desired features, such as a self-contained fire suppression system, a ruggedized transport system that can withstand several thousand miles of travel across rough terrain, make it full accessibility for people with disabilities, and capable of operating without connection to local power, water and sewer. In response, SBRA—the research arm of the manufactured housing industry—assembled a multidisciplinary team with technical direction provided by The Levy Partnership, a nationally-recognized building science and design firm.

Then there are the practical considerations of developing a buildable, or in this case manufacturable and mobile, design. An SBRA-convened qzhlh panel of experts consisting of leaders from across the factory building community is guiding the research. “Our role,” states panel chair Michael Wade, Clayton Homes Director of Lean Manufacturing, “is to assure that the design incorporates best practices, leverages the inherent advantage of factory building to produce high quality homes quickly, and delivers a sufficiently detailed design that any facility can produce, placing the industry’s enormous manufacturing capacity at FEMA’s service as and when the need arises.”

Emanuel Levy, principal of The Levy Partnership, is leading the team developing and testing the NextGen designs. He described the technical hurdles to accomplishing project objectives, noting “It goes without saying that good design starts with an understanding of the building context (climate, site, aesthetic). But, FEMA’s need for a non-location-specific solution requires a fundamental rethink of our basic approach to design; priorities are realigned, basic principles and approaches are questioned.” Rarely encountered considerations crop up, such as, what single heating and cooling equipment choice would serve a home that could be deployed to Houston, TX or Bismarck, ND? To round out the challenges facing the team, add in the goal of shortening the time between when a disaster strikes and providing a normal living situation so people can focus on their recovery.

In the next few days, the first NextGen prototypes will roll off the production line of factory homebuilder Hi-Tech Housing of Bristol, IN. The prototypes will be used to fully evaluate the single design concept. The test homes will be installed in locations that experience very cold (northern Minnesota) and very hot-humid (southern Mississippi) climate conditions and monitored for one year. The result will be a new class of housing designed expressly for disaster relief and tailored to meet FEMA’s future housing needs.

For more information about the NextGen development program, contact:

The Levy Partnership, Inc.
1776 Broadway, Suite 1250
New York, NY 10019
http://www.levypartnership.com/

About Systems Building Research Alliance (SBRA)—SBRA is a non-profit organization with the mission of developing new technologies to enhance the value, quality and performance of the nation’s factory built homes, both manufactured and modular. SBRA develops new methods for using factory built homes in a wide array of housing applications, by solving technical challenges and by paving the way for innovations in home design, construction and installation. (www.research-alliance.org)

About The Levy Partnership, Inc. (TLP)—TLP has been a pioneer in the area of building research and technology, working with U.S. and foreign-based firms from both the public and private spheres. The firm offers a range of design, research, project management, technical support and other mission-specific services to companies involved in home building, commercial construction, property management, material and systems development and market development. As a U.S. Dept. of Energy Building America team lead, TLP has been on the forefront of the sustainability revolution, helping to introduce cutting-edge building methods through programs such as Passive House, Zero Energy Ready and ENERGY STAR. (www.LevyPartnership.com)

About Hi-Tech Housing, Inc. (HTH)—HTH is an off-site manufacturer of custom homes and commercial buildings. HTH builds homes to the federal Manufactured Housing Standards (HUD), IRC (state and local) and CBC (Canadian providences) along with commercial structures to IBC (state and local) and CBC (Canadian providences). (www.hi-techhousing.com)

Project Partners—The following companies contributed essential products, technologies and technical expertise to the development effort: Bard Manufacturing Corp., Inc., W.S. Darley & Co, DecoShield Systems, DOW, Generac, General Air Products, Lightstat, Kohler Co., Lippert Components, Mitsubishi Electric, Nortek Global HVAC, Panasonic, Senco Products, JG Innovations, Talco Fire Systems, Ultra-Aire, Uponor and Whirlpool Corporation.

Source : The Levy Partnership
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