As Bozeman continues to see an influx in population, new housing complexes are being built to accommodate the city. With this growth and high demand, housing affordability and energy efficient design, particularly in Bozeman’s cold winter climate, have been a challenge for both homeowners and the city. Enter Bridger View: a new energy-efficient housing development in Bozeman, with half of the homes provided below market rate to allow middle income families access to Bozeman’s housing market.. Contracted by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, JG Research and Evaluation’s Chase Walker and Brandn Green supported a research project to document perceptions and challenges related to energy-efficient building. The goal of the study was to understand how a cold weather climate (such as Bozeman’s) can influence the adoption and performance of energy-efficient technologies. These technologies include building envelope and insulation, triple pane windows, ductless heat pumps (DHP), and heat pump water heaters (HPWH).
The project started in 2021 and covered each phase of the Bridger View construction, which took over two years: planning, design, construction, and homeowner lived experience. JG conducted a mixed methods research study that included interviews with project consultants, contractors, installers, and homeowners; a series of on-site visits (hence the hard hard hats); and a quantitative cost-analysis of home energy use and electricity utilization at Bridger View.
The study found that unfamiliarity with the technologies created uncertainty and concern among some interviewees, but this uncertainty was quickly diminished during the installation process as people became more familiar and better understood the technology. Homeowners cited positive experiences and those who lived in the homes through a winter were impressed with the technology’s ability to maintain consistent temperatures and lower energy bills.