Triple Decker Project
A common type of home in urban areas
of New England is referred to as a triple decker. These are
three-story row homes, and they are normally somewhat old. Most
triple deckers have almost identical dimensions.
In New England it is estimated that over 400,000 triple decker
units are in need of retrofitting to improve their energy
efficiency. In Boston alone, there are 9,000 of these triple-decker
homes, according to the Fraunhofer Institute as part of a report to
the Massachusetts Technology Advisory Committee.
The Metal Construction Association (MCA) has been promoting
retrofitting with metal roof and wall assemblies on existing
buildings. The Fraunhofer Institute approached the MCA to
participate in a demonstration project involving the retrofitting
of triple-decker buildings in the Boston area. The project is
supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Massachusetts
Department of Energy Resources (DOER), the City of Boston and local
The intent is to use three neighboring tripledecker dwellings as
a demonstration of products and design systems used in retrofitting
to move the buildings closer to a net zero energy situation.
The MCA is participating with exterior insulated metal panels on
the roof and possibly on wall applications. In addition to
providing the metal systems' retrofit of three neighboring triple
deckers, MCA will also be responsible for accessories such as
sealants and fasteners as well as elevation details.
Beyond the roof retrofitting demonstration, a photovoltaic (PV)
system will be installed to improve energy efficiency even more.
The roof area of most triple-deckers is 30 by 40 feet, which can
host a solar power system with about 14kW to 19kW of peak solar
power. The proposed PV on the roof of the triple deckers will
provide about 60 to 80 percent of the energy needs of the typical
units. The entire design will include wall components,
architectural details and a high R-value roof with integrated PV.
With commitment from MCA (exterior design work, materials) and
involvement from many other organizations and industries, the
Fraunhofer Institute will be ready to approach the City of Boston,
New England Utilities and the Massachusetts DOER for funding,
allowing the Institute to begin work on the energy design,
integration of the PV system, whole building energy analyses and
evaluation of more technologies.
The project will be designed as a demonstration of the potential
of metal roof and wall retrofit applied to residential
construction. Similarly, this project will show the potential for
retrofitting to create low-energy designs in historical buildings
in the New England area.
The Fraunhofer Institute has been doing a considerable amount of
energy modeling of the impacts of various retrofit materials and
design strategies. Net zero energy will be achieved through
significant reduction of building thermal loads (high-performance
envelopes); highly efficient HVAC systems, lighting, appliances;
and through an application of the roof-integrated PV system.
The project will also feature other industries and partners.
These include the window industry, insulation companies, HVAC
manufacturers and interior finish material companies. MCA and its
members will be key participants of this project.
# # #
Scott Kriner is the president of Green
Metal Consulting Inc., Macungie, Pa., and a principal in RSK Avanti
Partners LLC, Richardson, Texas. He is a LEED Accredited
Professional (Operations and Maintenance) and wrote a book titled
"Wait and See." He also serves the Metal Construction Association
as technical director.