Creating the Foundation to Improve the Built Environment
From building science research and program development to championing best practices through public education, we are committed to a holistic approach to making buildings better.
Better Buildings Start with Better Science
Our research work includes analytical studies utilizing advanced modeling tools such as WUFI, Ecotect, and THERM, product development in conjunction with leading manufacturers, and field testing and monitoring of new and emerging technologies. These may be new residential products, new construction methods, or the integration of several technologies into a multifunctional system. Our focus is to provide a thorough understanding of how building systems operate under real-world conditions and why that may vary from initial expectations.
Our evaluation services include the development of test protocols, installation of dataloggers / sensors, analysis of field data, and technical reporting on research findings. Findings can be presented in different formats including written reports, seminars, quality installation guides for contractors, and educational brochures for consumers.
We have conducted numerous short- and long-term monitoring studies for the Department of Energy, NYSERDA, Long Island Power Authority, Connecticut Light & Power, National Grid, NSTAR, and others. Recent products and technologies have included:
- Heat pump water heaters
- Condensing boilers
- Whole-house ventilation systems (exhaust-only, HRV/ERV, CO2 override)
- Ground-source heat pumps
- Advanced insulation systems
- Solar thermal and solar electric systems
- Pre-production HVAC prototypes
We use our firsthand experience to create well-informed, comprehensive programs.
Various public and private entities, from government and utilities to financing agencies, have taken the initiative to develop programs that promote energy efficient buildings. They often understand the positive economic and environmental impacts of these programs, and SWA has the expertise to help them develop and refine their programs to achieve their specific goals.
Whether you are looking to develop a program from the ground-up, or are just need to revise a current program to improve its effectiveness, our building system consultants draw upon their firsthand experiences to develop program documents and tools or to offer recommendations for improvement to existing energy efficiency programs.
Types of programs we help to develop include:
- Green building program and rating criteria
- Incentive programs
- Funding initiatives and criteria
- Student competitions
We are a national leader in training all members of building project teams, from architects, consultants, contractors, and developers, to owners, management and maintenance staff.
As an approved provider of continuing education, we offer accredited courses for the following programs: American Institute of Architects (AIA CES), Building Performance Institute (BPI), DC Real Estate Commission.
The rapid decline in costs, paired with the availability of incentives at both state and federal levels, make going solar now better than ever. However, significant challenges remain for designing and constructing solar photovoltaic systems in high density areas.Read More
To achieve comfort in a home, the HVAC design needs to be considered during the initial design process and not simply field installed by an HVAC contractor once the building is framed. This session will explore the elements of sound building design that need to integrated into an architects vision at the onset of the building design/layout. We will discuss what architects need to consider to achieve a comfortable home and what the partnership with the HVAC contractor should be. Methods to evaluate HVAC contractors capabilities will also be discussed. Examples from recent projects will be presented as examples of good and bad practices.Read More
There is not one right heating and/or cooling system that can be universally recommended as each home has different circumstances that must be considered. This is even more so in low-load home. This session will explore the fundamental concepts of selecting and properly distributing conditioned air throughout the home. The pros and cons of each system type will be considered in some detail, particularly with respect to first cost, energy performance, installation issues, and maintenance needs. Case studies and results from research projects conducted across the country will be presented to support the concepts discussed.Read More
There is not one right heating and/or cooling system that can be universally recommended as each home has different circumstances that must be considered. This session will explore the fundamental concepts of determining the peak design loads of buildings, selecting and sizing space conditioning equipment, and properly distributing the conditioned air throughout the home. The pros and cons of each system type will be considered in some detail, particularly with respect to first cost, energy performance, installation issues, and maintenance needs. Case studies and results from research projects conducted across the country will be presented to support the concepts discussed.Read More
As homes continue to be built tighter, there is a lot of focus on minimizing the potential for moisture intrusion into building assemblies from the exterior. This is a critical detail, but often forgotten in the design is adequate means of minimizing or controlling interior moisture. Come hear about changes that you may need to make to your standard HVAC practices as a result of how homes are being built. Learn about important strategies to create a durable home that manages moisture and prevents opportunities for mold and deterioration.Read More
As building energy codes become more stringent, new building technologies and innovations are being incorporated into the building envelope. As these new technologies get incorporated, construction methods must be adapted to maintain adherence to basic best-practice principles of air-barrier continuity, moisture management and durability. This presentation will describe some of the challenges and choices that arise when increasing the thermal performance of the building envelope.Read More
This full day program reviews unique aspects of the LEED 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations rating system. Learn about how to apply and facilitate the LEED process with stakeholders, to apply LEED tools to a new construction or major renovation project, and to identify key green decisions throughout the process of earning LEED certification.Read More
This one-hour presentation provides an overview of certification options to provide attendees with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about sustainable building.Read More
The 2015 New York City Energy Conservation Code was released and has been in use since January 1 of this year. The new code is an adaptation of the 2014 New York State Code, and varies from its predecessors in both substantial and subtle ways. This course highlights the new code changes & enforcement, applicability to repair & renovation projects, and minimum compliance vs. going beyond code.Read More
SWA has been called on to evaluate severe decay and mold issues, spaces that can’t be brought up to temperature, freezing pipes and extremely high utility bills – all in new, custom, multi-million dollar dream homes. Don’t let a few oversights turn it into a nightmare.Read More
Arguably, selecting insulation is one of the most important decisions when designing a building assembly because of the many benefits these products provide in terms of service life, building durability, and energy efficiency. This presentation explores the characteristics, advantages, and cautions of the primary insulation for residential building assemblies (walls, roofs, and foundations), and then considers the installation methodologies that will optimize the building’s energy efficiency. Come hear an unbiased view on insulation.Read More
Buildings which are not accessible are not sustainable. Settlements and other legal agreements reached between developers and the courts have resulted in the substantial renovation of newly constructed buildings to incorporate legally required accessibility.Read More
The training will highlight common oversights civil engineers and landscape architects make when incorporating accessibility into multifamily plan development, followed by typical errors made on site.Read More
This training focuses on two critical areas of project development, design and construction. Cases involving complaints against architects for failing to design multifamily housing to incorporate access for people with disabilities are on the rise and are expected to continue.Read More
Federally funded design and construction triggers the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehab Act of 1973, an often misunderstood federal accessibility law which seeks to prevent discrimination, based on disability, under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.Read More
The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHA), among other federal accessibility laws, requires that newly constructed multifamily residential buildings be designed and constructed to provide access to people with disabilities. A violation of these federal laws perpetuates discriminatory housing practices. This presentation will showcase lessons learned as a result of the presenters real world experience working on thousands of dwelling units and common areas subject to the FHA.Read More
On September 15, 2010, the Department of Justice published updated Title II and III Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and adopted the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. This session will address substantive changes to the regulations and design criteria which became effective on March 15, 2011 and become the only enforceable regulations and design standards under the ADA on and after March 15, 2012.Read More
Cases involving complaints against architects and developers for failing to design multifamily housing to incorporate access for people with disabilities are on the rise and are expected to continue.Read More
This course will help you navigate the accessible dwelling unit requirements for affordable housing. It is the follow up session to "Plans to Practice New York: Accessible Design and Construction in Affordable Housing."Read More
Learn about the new 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design, which became mandatory on March 15, 2012, with a focus on the differences between the new design standard and the former ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) as they apply to places of lodging.Read More
When designing and constructing accessible buildings, it’s all about the details. This presentation highlights common oversights architects can make when incorporating the accessibility requirements of the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHA) into plan development.Read More