Connecting the Physical and Virtual
Green Building and the UTest House: Lessons in Sustainability and Energy Efficiency
The UTest House is a 1300 ft2 manufactured home that is used for a variety of indoor environmental quality and building energy research projects. The purpose of this seminar is to describe several efforts to use the UTest House to promote student learning in Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) courses. The house serves as a way to connect classroom material on heat transfer, thermodynamics, building systems, and indoor air quality to a “hands-on” opportunity for students to conduct measurements. Specific activities include evaluating the operation and efficiency of residential heating and cooling systems, conducting full-scale measurements of environmental parameters and contaminants, and measuring energy use of different building end-uses. There are two main approaches for integrating the UTest House into instruction: field trips and a virtual connection to certain instrumentation and control functions. For field trips, the house is used as a laboratory with student learning promoted by familiarity with residential-scale systems. The virtual connection allows for simple experiments and monitoring without the need for the students to actually visit the house. Both approaches also serve to engage students with the ongoing research performed by CAEE faculty and students.