Mar 192013


The Daily Reflector

Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector / The Daily Reflector

Sam Rashkin from U.S. Department of Energy holds his book before speaking with students and faculty of ECU’s Engineering Department about changing energy standards in the U.S. housing market at the Howell Science Building on Monday, March 18, 2013. (Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector)

“The housing industry needs to catch up with other science-based industries and entirely retool how we make new homes to transform the market.”

Sam Rashkin

founder of the national Energy Star program

By Michael Abramowitz

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The home building industry needs scientists to design and build homes, the chief architect for the U.S. Energy Department told about 50 East Carolina University construction management, design and architectural students on Monday.

Sam Rashkin, founder of the national Energy Star program for home energy conservation and author of “Retooling the U.S. housing Industry: How it got here, Why it’s broken, How to fix it,” spoke to the students about the need to apply science and technology to the residential building industry.

The event, held at the College of Technology and Computer Science, was sponsored by the ECU student chapter of the National Association of Home Builders and the Department of Construction Management.

“The housing industry needs to catch up with other science-based industries and entirely retool how we make new homes to transform the market,” Rashkin said. “You must learn building science to be a professional builder in today’s industry. People who come out of school with these skills are able to offer housing industry job providers a real solution to the task of building the kinds of homes we need to build.”

It’s a missing piece for now, Rashkin said. He and his energy department colleagues are working to develop a national task force to find the most effective ways to get construction engineering, residential architecture and interior design students augmented with those skill sets, then convince the industry that it needs those people so the industry can grow properly.

Standards for home construction that once were considered extras are now mandatory, and Rashkin detailed several components of the home building retooling process that will take development of the industry forward in design, performance, quality and sales.

“The high-performance home train has left the station,” Rashkin said. “The question no longer is how to build the lowest-cost homes; it’s how to maximize value to make home ownership compelling to buyers.”

Today’s young people who will be tomorrow’s home buyers are primed for the new direction of technological advancements in home design, the architect said.

“The next generation of home buyers are innovation junkies, ready for the kind of changes that must occur in sustainable housing development,” Rashkin said. “The challenge right now is the lack of investment in innovation. Instead of surveying prospective buyers about what they would like to have in a new home, do it the way Apple did with their iPhone and iPad. Build housing products that people never knew they wanted, and once they try them, they will have to have them.”

Contact Michael Abramowitz at or 252-329-9571.

via The Daily Reflector.


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