Hourigan VT Fall 2013 Virtual Construction Studio

Research should transcend disciplinary boundaries, promote critical thinking, and apply the multiple knowledge sets of peers and colleagues to solve problems in the classroom, society and beyond. The central focus of my research relates to the largely unexplored realm of commercialization, diffusion and adoption of innovative products and practices in the construction industry. While many researchers have looked at social systems and managerial practices of innovation in construction, few have looked at the integration of these subjects. 

As Associate Director of VCHR, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded our research team one of six Sustainable Community grants to study the market barriers to diffusion of energy efficient technologies in the residential construction industry. The probability of success for Sustainable Community grant applications is approximately 1%, similar to that of CAREER awards from The National Science Foundation (NSF). Further, on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, HUD invited us to address its National Research Agenda Symposium as one of two national experts on building technologies and their future in affordable housing. The talk acted as a framing discussion to guide HUD's future research in Design, Construction and Building Technologies.

Outside of VCHR and the national research discussion, my work with local industry clients is also testament to an integrative approach of applying research to real-world issues. In Fall 2009, a graduate student and I performed commercialization research with Acrylife, Inc., a local company, in introducing a new roofing vent product to the market. We were able to translate work in academia into a clear road map, which a small business could follow, to see how each step in the process is necessary to avoid common commercialization pitfalls. 

The lumenHAUS project is another prime example of combining applied research and the integration of knowledge through the application of innovative technologies and techniques in the built environment. lumenHAUS was a student-led design-build-operate competition for an 820 square foot residence. The work involved innovation and experimentation to incorporate over fifty state-of-the-art technologies from industry leaders, tackle unknown fields and push beyond current boundaries. As part of the team, we successfully developed a project that won first prize overall among 20 universities in the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe, and ‘top 3’ prizes in seven categories, including architecture and communication.