NAHB Research Center Lab Tripling Its Size
Construction of the NAHB Research Center's new, state-of-the-art product testing laboratory and market research facility continues, part of a major expansion to support its consultation services on building products and keep pace with the changing needs of the home building industry.
There is currently a wide array of obstacles to moving new products into the housing market, a situation the Research Center is working to improve with its quality testing and technology and market research. Since breaking ground in September, the center has forged ahead with an ambitious schedule to complete construction and open the building for tours during the NAHB Board of Directors meeting in Washington this spring.
Research Center programs include applied market research and demonstrations, code conformity and quality assurance testing, and developing innovative ways to improve the quality and affordability of homes.
New capabilities supported by the lab will include large-scale thermal testing, acoustic performance testing and two-story shear wall testing. Its increased size will also facilitate testing and simulation of real-world conditions such as wind-driven rain and wind-blown debris on whole-house models, which has not been possible in the existing facility.
In addition, nearly 1,000 square feet of space will be dedicated to a one-of-a-kind market research facility and observation gallery overlooking the testing area — allowing real-time observation of products during focus group sessions.
The opening of the new facility will mark the beginning of a new era for the Research Center, which as a wholly-owned subsidiary and independent research arm of NAHB, has promoted housing technology innovation to improve the quality, affordability and durability of homes and home building products for more than 40 years. At 42,000 square feet, the specialized testing and research facility will triple the size of the existing laboratory, greatly enhancing the services the Research Center provides for builders, product manufacturers and its public- and private-sector clients.
During the groundbreaking celebration held in 2006, NAHB President David Pressly emphasized the importance of the Research Center and its work as a critical component of NAHB’s overall housing mission; he said that it was essential to developing new products, producing higher quality homes and ultimately improving the quality of life for home buyers.
According to NAHB Research Center President Michael Luzier, constructing the new facility is an essential part of the company’s business strategy and will help to leverage its unique position as an authority in the residential construction industry, resulting in greater offerings for the industry at large. “The new facility will enable us to further integrate our engineering and market research expertise and provide our clients comprehensive product commercialization services to help them overcome the many barriers to innovation in the home building industry,” said Luzier.
Get to Know the NAHB Research Center
The Research Center’s existing laboratory is continuing to operate during construction. Ongoing market research, product testing and certification programs include:
- Products and Systems Testing. The Research Center works with builders and manufacturers to test the performance of products and subsystems used in homes today, with both controlled laboratory tests and evaluation in the field. An abbreviated list of testing capabilities includes assembly and component tests such as axial load, shear wall testing, thermal R-value, 1.6 GPF toilets, and water penetration and air leakage testing. The Research Center also conducts standard material physical property tests of wood, steel, concrete and plastic.
- Product Certification. The center’s laboratory certifies products to nationally recognized standards. The NAHB Research Center certified seal assures builders, code officials and consumers that products meet or exceed the applicable industry standards. Current product certification includes: accessible products, light-gauge steel, plastic plumbing fixtures, OSB, solid surface materials and thermal insulation.
- Builder and Trade Contractor Certification. Through its National Housing Quality Program, the NAHB Research Center has established quality assurance requirements for builders and trade contractors to help these professionals implement QM systems that are evaluated and audited annually to tightly control the construction process and improve customer satisfaction.
- Services for Manufacturers and Industry. The Research Center provides proprietary and customized market research services, including roundtables, focus groups and interviews to help clients understand customer preferences. Annual Builder and Consumer Practices surveys provide unparalleled data analysis for using building materials in new construction and remodeling. The Research Center also performs independent third-party testing and quality assurance verification services for building product manufacturers, assists with the development of product performance criteria with model code groups and is an ANSI-recognized standards-writing agency. As a leading developer of prescriptive construction methods for new building technologies, the Research Center also assesses the durability of building products, investigating the entire spectrum of influences from disasters to maintenance issues.
For more information on the NAHB Research Center and its services for NAHB members and private-sector clients, visit www.nahbrc.org