Energy & Sustainability in Construction (ESC) Lab

The ESC lab promotes energy efficiency and sustainability (EES) in the built environment through the development of sustainable design and construction practices and risk-based financial models for EES investments.  We aim to integrate advanced financial analysis, project development, and management strategies used during the delivery of energy-efficient buildings and sustainable infrastructures.  With this work, ESC is developing innovative solutions to complex deficiencies in current construction and financing practices that hinder society’s movement toward EES.

Financial and Management Questions that Lead to Sustainable Solutions

The ESC lab helps project stakeholders weigh the risks and rewards of EES investments through pursuing answers to some of the industry’s most pressing financial and management questions:

  • How can we categorize unique risk types in EES investments that contribute to the financial barrier?
  • How do we accurately model the risks of construction projects that involves EES?
  • What are the management tools needed that enable smart financial investment in EES?
  • What financial analysis techniques can be applied to support EES in construction projects?
  • How can the project team collectively evaluate the benefits of EES in construction projects?

Pursuing Innovative Solutions to Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

The ESC lab has developed a series of analytical models and construction practices that support commercial energy retrofits and residential photovoltaics, including:

  • Energy-Related Risk Management in Integrated Project Delivery
  • Phased Investment for Energy Retrofit (PIER)
  • Energy Retrofit Loan Analysis Model (ERLAM)
  • An optimized portfolio analysis for community-based photovoltaic investment

ESC Research Funders:


ESC Lab Posts:

Dynamic production scheduling model under due date uncertainty in precast concrete construction.

Journal of Cleaner Production 257, 120527 Abstract: Precast concrete structures (PCs) are widely used in the construction industry to reduce project delivery times and improve quality. On-time delivery of PCs is critical for successful project completion because the processes involving precast concrete are the critical paths in most cases. However, existing models for scheduling PC…

Impact of Empowering Front-Line Managers on Planning Reliability & Project Schedule Performance

Journal of Management in Engineering 36 (3), 04020004 Abstract: This study applies empowerment theory to production planning at the level of frontline managers in a construction project. Using structural equation modeling, we investigate how empowering frontline managers impacts their planning performance. In contrast to prior studies, we find that although psychological empowerment of frontline managers…

Impact of Make-Ready Process on Project Cost Performance in Heavy Civil

Production Planning & Control 30 (13), 1064-1071 Abstract:  The research investigates the relationship between the production plan reliability and the project cost performance using project data in the heavy civil construction sector.  The research also investigates the attributes of a make-ready process using statistical analysis.  This study shows that production planning reliability (i.e. Per cent…

Prevention through Design (PtD) for Solar-Ready Houses

Supported by CPWR–The Center for Construction Research and Training (, a UW CM research team recently completed a funded study regarding Prevention through Design (PtD) for Solar.  The team consisted of Prof. Hyun Woo “Chris” Lee (PI), Prof. John Gambatese (Co-PI, Oregon State University), and Yohan Min (UW PhD student researcher).  The study aims to…

Impact of Energy Benchmarking and Disclosure Policy on Office Buildings

DOWNLOAD ARTICLE Abstract: Building energy benchmarking policies require owners to publicly disclose their building’s energy performance. In the US, the adoption of such policies is contributing to an increased awareness among tenants and buyers and is expected to motivate the owners of less efficient buildings to invest in energy efficiency improvements. However, there is a…

Analyzing Investments in Flood Protection Structures: A Real Options Approach

DOWNLOAD ARTICLE Abstract: The soaring number of natural hazards in recent years due largely to climate change has resulted in an even higher level of investment in flood protection structures. However, such investments tend to be made in the aftermath of disasters. Very little is known about the proactive planning of flood protection investments that…

Prof. Chris Lee Presents: Lean and Safety Manual

On June 6, Prof. Chris Lee presented a “Lean and Safety Manual” to AGC (Associated General Contractors) member companies at the AGC-WA Building.  Funded by the WA State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), the manual is the final product of his research project, entitled “Develop a Lean Practice Manual for Improving the Safety of…

CM Faculty Research Updates

Ahmed Aziz published and presented “The USA PPP Payment Mechanisms – the Path Toward Comprehensive Systems” at the Construction Research Congress in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bill Bender published “A Model for Collecting Replacement Cycles of Building Components: A Hybrid Approach of Indirect and Direct Estimations” in ASCE’s Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering. Carrie Dossick…

Effect of Energy Benchmarking and Disclosure on Office Building Marketability

VIEW REPORT CM Associate Professor Dr. Hyun Woo “Chris” Lee and Runstad Endowed Professor of Real Estate Dr. Sofia Dermisi were awarded a College of Built Environment Innovation Collaborative Award. Launched in January 2017, the work continues through March 2018. Title: Impact of Energy Benchmarking and Disclosure on the Performance of Office Buildings Abstract: The…

“Prevention Through Design to Solar Systems in Small Buildings” featured in Safety & Health Magazine

A funded research project performed by CM Faculty Dr. Chris Lee and PhD student Chung Ho, along with a collaborator from Oregon State University, was recently featured in Safety and Health Magazine. Check it out below!

Improving Solar Safety from the Design Process

Dr. Chris Lee presented a FREE webinar on improving solar construction safety from the design process: Applying Prevention through Design (PtD) to Solar Systems in Small Buildings Solar technology has grown cheaper and more economically attractive in recent years, and a growing number of homeowners are having rooftop solar panels installed. Employees of the small…

What can we do better? Convening the best minds to re-imaging capital construction at UW and WSU (2016)

Researchers at the Center for Education and Research in Construction supported an effort by UW and WSU to explore capital construction costs. DOWNLOAD WHITE PAPER Why do university buildings cost so much? Most capital project groups have a series of pat answers to this question, but at the UW and WSU we think it is…

Implications of New Construction Technology for Western Washington Mechanical Contractors (2011)

This research was supported through generous funding from the Mechanical Contractors Association of Western Washington, the University of Washington Royalty Research Fund, the College of Built Environments and the Departments of Construction Management and Communication. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0823338. Any opinions, findings, conclusions…

Modular Prefabricated Residential Construction: Constraints & Opportunities (2013)

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT In 2012/2013, CERC received a Skanska Innovation Grant to study the potential for modular prefabricated construction for mid- to high-rise residential buildings in Seattle. The current practices in the construction industry are labor-intensive and surrounded by significant risks associated with market, site and weather conditions. In addition, the construction industry has been…