NorthernSTAR Building America Partnership

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northernstar logo

The NorthernSTAR Building America Partnership, led by the University of Minnesota, is one of ten national teams selected by the Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE Building America program works to accelerate the development and adoption of advanced energy technologies in new and existing homes. Building America is designed “to stimulate the home building and remodeling market through research and technical support to increase efficiency gains, facilitate more rapid deployment, and reduce the cost of energy measures.” This team's energy savings goals are simply:

  • 30% of current energy use for retrofit
  • 50% of IECC 2009 for new construction.

The NorthernSTAR team employs a comprehensive and integrated approach to address these challenges and produce truly transformative results. All three primary areas of focus must be addressed in order to create meaningful change within the marketplace. These are the house system, the delivery system, and the market/user interface. 

Our latest research: Building studless walls

We're building houses with studless walls with the aim of increased energy efficiency, airtightness, and construction quality as compared to typical wall construction methods. Learn more about our studless wall research project.


Team OptiMN wins 2015 Race to Zero Student Design Challenge
April 24, 2015

NorthernSTAR Team

Research team

  • University of Minnesota (lead)
  • Building Knowledge, Inc.
  • Center for Energy and Environment
  • Center for Sustainable Building Research
  • Energy Center of Wisconsin
  • Institute on the Environment/IREE
  • University of Minnesota Extension

Research partners

  • Building Green
  • Conservation Technologies
  • McGregor Pearce
  • Simply Green
  • Wagner Zaun Architecture

Industry partners

  • More than 20 product manufacturers, suppliers, builders, and remodelers

Project portfolio

Foundation insulation systems

  • Exterior "excavationless" foundation insulation
  • Innovative retrofit options for masonry

Exterior insulation systems (project overcoat)

  • Airtight and cost effective roof options for 1.5-story homes

Integrated space and water heating systems

  • Optimizing efficiency of combined systems

Window selection guidelines

DOE Zero Energy ready home/challenge home

  • Promoting the use of top energy efficient and performance measures in new construction

Market delivery of performance upgrades

  • Developing strategies to encourage remodelers and homeowners to implement innovative efficiency measures

Combustion safety

  • Field studies of backdrafting protocols
  • Guidelines for airtight homes

Building science education

  • Incorporating building science in curricula for industry professionals 


Pat Huelman, Principal Investigator
Tom Schirber, Research Fellow