The Virginia Center for Housing Research (VCHR) at Virginia Tech is an interdisciplinary college research center in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Department of Building Construction. Since 1989, VCHR has been designated as the official housing research and information center for the State of Virginia. VCHR specializes in building technologies and housing affordability.
Mission and Vision
VCHR’s mission is to serve as an interdisciplinary research and information source on housing. In carrying out its mission, the Center works closely with state agencies, municipalities, businesses and non-profit organizations to provide research-based information and technical assistance. VCHR’s vision is to create and leverage cutting-edge research to improve the affordability, sustainability, and quality of housing. Further, the Center is committed to implementing a research agenda that will address and find solutions to the most critical housing needs of Virginia and the nation.
Research and Services
VCHR provides publically available, easily accessible housing and affordability data. VCHR has published numerous reports on topics such as housing markets and affordability; preservation of federally-assisted, low-income housing; regulatory impacts on affordable housing; public-private housing partnerships; and diffusion of innovative housing technologies in residential construction. VCHR’s recent research on sustainability and building technology is recognized nationally. In addition, VCHR offers research-based information and technical assistance to government agencies, municipalities, businesses and non-profit organizations.
Current Research Projects
Impact of Market Behavior on the Adoption and Diffusion of Innovative Green Building Technologies
VCHR received a two-year grant from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Research Grant Program to evaluate the impact of market behavior on the adoption and diffusion of innovative green building technologies in residential building. Andrew McCoy, Director of the Center and an assistant professor in the Department of Building Construction within the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, is the lead investigator on the project. C. Theodore Koebel, a professor in the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, and Hazhir Ramandad, an assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, are co- investigators.
New River Valley Livability Initiative
VCHR is a partner with the New River Valley Planning District Commission to implement the New River Valley Livability Initiative. The three-year regional planning grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. The project integrates planning for housing, land use, economic and workforce development, energy, and transportation in pursuit of reducing barriers to achieving affordable, sustainable communities. VCHR leads the housing component of the Livability Initiative project and has completed a draft housing plan for the project.
Green Building and Sustainability Awareness in Home Buyers of Recently Constructed Homes
VCHR will soon release a report that will contribute to research regarding homeowner choices and their knowledge of green building and sustainability. The report will provide valuable information to builders interested in providing environmentally sustainable housing products. The report is based on a survey of owners of recently constructed homes in four neighborhoods in Blacksburg, Virginia. This post-occupancy, empirical study included two groups of respondents: those living in homes known to have green features and a control group living in homes not specifically known to have green features.
Housing Affordability SOURCEBOOK & PLAYBOOK
VCHR has developed an online tool for assessing local housing affordability and an online searchable inventory of housing policies and programs in Virginia. A variety of housing affordability measures, including a series of housing affordability indices based on median housing cost and median income, are available for the state, metropolitan statistical areas, and Virginia localities. VCHR updates the data for these tools on a regular, on-going basis. This year, VCHR will add an economic impact calculator for new residential development. This project is funded and hosted by Housing Virginia, a non-profit affordable housing advocacy organization. The PLAYBOOK and SOURCEBOOK are available on the Housing Virginia website.
Virginia Tech Education and Research Resources
- Collaborative Curriculum Development – Presentation by Georg Reichard at the 2011 “Excellence in Building Science Education” workshop. (Requires Internet Explorer to view presentation).
- Virginia Tech Myers-Lawson School of Construction
- SOURCEBOOK & PLAYBOOK – housing affordability data and affordable housing policy database developed by VCHR and sponsored by Housing Virginia
- Solar Decathlon - and Solar Decathlon Europe 2010 – A capstone project winning world recognition
Director, Andrew P. McCoy is an assistant professor of Building Construction and adjunct professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, teaching several undergraduate and graduate Building Construction courses which give students practical experience working on estimating and project management of real construction projects. Dr. McCoy also teaches a graduate course, which explores concepts, theories and applications of innovation in construction, specializing in residential systems. Dr. McCoy’s main area of research involves diffusion and commercialization of innovative projects in the construction industry. He is the main author of numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers on the subjects of innovation adoption, diffusion and commercialization in residential construction and construction safety. He is also the Associate Editor of the inaugural edition of ASCE Journal of Architectural Engineering’s Special Edition on Residential Building Construction.
Dr. McCoy has been the co-primary investigator on more than two million dollars in funded projects, including ‘green’ construction practices and safety practices in the construction supply chain. Recently funded endeavors include: 1) HUD’s ” Impact of Market Behavior on the Adoption and Diffusion of Innovative Green Building Technologies,” A Sustainable Communities Research grant; 2) CREATES, a Department of Labor grant to increase Southwest Virginia Constructors knowledge and application of green technologies; 3) ELECTRI Foundation’s 2011 Early Career Award and 4) NIOSH’s “The Case for a Whole Industry Approach to Safety,” a grant on safety across cultures and sectors of the construction industry. Another endeavor was the 2009 Department of Energy “Solar Decathlon” competition, in which university teams compete to design, build, manage and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house. He and his faculty teammates received the university-level 2010 XCalibur Award, for excellence in integrating technology into the Classroom Environment, won the European Premier Prize (first overall). He and a colleague received CAUS’ 2011 University Excellence in Outreach as a Team award and the 2011 Alumni Excellence in Outreach for Virginia Tech, based on his work with engaging industry. The alumni excellence award places him permanently into the Academy of Outreach Excellence. He also received the 2011 and 2012 Exemplary Faculty award for the Department of Building Construction and the Myers Lawson School of Construction, the University’s 2013 Favorite Faculty Award from the Division of Student Affairs and the March 2013 Teacher of the Week from the Center for Instructional Development and Education Research (CIDER), both student nominated. Dr. McCoy has over 15 years of experience in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, including 8.5 years of fieldwork and 4.5 years of managing a design-build firm that maintained a Class A Virginia contractor license and employed licensed architects. Dr. McCoy received undergraduate degrees in Architecture and Architectural History from the University of Virginia, and an MS in Building Construction and a Ph.D. in Environmental Design and Planning from Virginia Tech.
Co-Director, Marilyn Cavell is a Research Scientist at Virginia Tech and the Co-Director for Operations of the Virginia Tech Center for Housing Research. Ms. Cavell has been involved with research at Virginia Tech for over 35 years. She began working at the Virginia Tech Center for Housing Research in 1991 and currently is responsible for managing operations and coordinating all aspects of research on center projects. Her expertise is in project management and data analysis. She has co-authored numerous reports on housing markets and affordable housing and works closely with nonprofit organizations in Virginia to provide better understanding of housing trends. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received a Master’s Degree in housing from Virginia Tech.
Affiliated Faculty’s Qualifications
Senior Advisor, C. Theodore (Ted) Koebel, Ph.D., is a tenured full professor in the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech. Dr. Koebel was the Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Housing Research from 1990 to 2006, senior associate from 2006 to 2009, and took on the role of Co-Director for Research Development in 2010. He has over 25 years of experience in senior management at research institutes. Dr. Koebel has substantial experience as an editor and author, including past service as the managing editor and co-editor of a leading urban affairs journal and guest editor of two special issues of the Journal of Urban Technology. He has written numerous reports on housing market trends, affordable housing, and low-income housing policies and programs, and has worked extensively with developers, state and local agencies, housing advocates and neighborhood groups in the provision of affordable housing. Dr. Koebel has directed research and technical assistance projects on housing for federal (HUD, Fannie Mae, Federal Reserve), state and local governments, and private clients. He is heavily involved in nonprofit housing activities throughout Virginia and is the past Chairman of the Board of Community Housing Partners, Inc., the state’s largest nonprofit housing developer.
Affiliated Faculty, Dr. Georg Reichard is an Associate Professor of Building Construction and a principle faculty member of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech. Previously he was an Assistant Professor at Graz University of Technology in Austria, where he has been teaching and researching from 1996 to 2004. From 2002 to 2003 he took a sabbatical leave to conduct energy research at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, which was supported by the Austrian Science Fund and the US Department of Energy. His research deals with numerical methods, simulation and data models, in particular in the area of building sciences. In his current research, he focuses on building performance, energy efficiency in buildings, retrofitting solutions, systems integration, integrated control strategies and smart building materials – using modeling and simulation assessment techniques to improve our buildings, their systems and operation processes. Georg Reichard holds a Masters Degree and a Doctoral Degree in Civil Engineering from Graz University of Technology. For his doctoral theses he received the Energy-Technology-Program Award from the Upper-Austrian Government and for his stay at Berkeley he was awarded an Erwin-Schroedinger Fellowship.
Research Associate, Melissa (Mel) Jones is a Research Associate with the Center for Housing Research. Ms. Jones received undergraduate degrees in Economics and International Service from the American University. She received a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and a Master of Science in Agriculture and Applied Economics from Virginia Tech. Her expertise includes statistical and qualitative economic and policy analysis. She has significant experience and training in program coordination, local and regional economic development, and affordable housing. Ms. Jones’ education and experience will allow her to effectively support the Center’s sustained commitment to affordable housing in Virginia while advancing the Center’s interdisciplinary exploration of new affordable housing topics and resources.
Before joining the Center, Ms. Jones spent one year as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, serving as Program Coordinator for the Community Housing Partners program, the Community Alliance for Energy Efficiency (CAFE2). CAFE2 guides homeowners through home energy audits and retrofits in an effort to stimulate demand for home energy efficiency products and services. Ms. Jones’ program coordination experience will allow her to effectively manage her administrative responsibilities at the Center. Her training in weatherization and energy efficiency retrofit strategies will allow her to support the Center’s green building technology research agenda. Ms. Jones also spent three years as a graduate research assistant for the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development (VT-OED). VT-OED serves as an advisor and consultant for Virginia businesses and municipalities. In addition, VT-OED conducts economic development research to benefit the regions in its service area. Ms. Jones collaborated with VT-OED faculty to publish two studies: “The Challenge of Reconciling Development Objectives in the Context of Demographic Change: Evaluating Asset-based Development in Appalachia” in the Journal of Alpine Research and “The Role of Equity Capital in Rural Communities: Wealth Creation in Rural Communities Phase I Reports” in Wealth Creation in Rural Communities, a project of the Ford Foundation. Her time working with one of the state’s premier affordable housing organizations and at VT-OED has allowed her to develop an expertise in Virginia policies, trends and regional characteristics, both attributes and challenges. This expertise will help her begin to take responsibility for the Center’s commitment to provide high-quality research and analysis for Virginia’s housing community.