Pennsylvania Housing Research Center Housing Conference to be held March 3-4


By Rachel Fawcett

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Housing Research Center (PHRC), housed in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Penn State, will host the 29th annual PHRC Housing Conference from March 3-4 online. The PHRC Housing Conference highlights best practices, regulation and innovation in the residential construction industry. It brings together all sectors of the industry, including builders, design professionals, remodelers, code officials, educators, factory-built housing manufacturers and product manufacturers.

The first day of the conference will focus on sessions pertaining to building science and construction, as well as codes and regulations. Brian Wolfgang, associate director of the PHRC, will provide a welcome as attendees enter the session through Zoom. Ali Wolf, chief economist for Zonda, will give the keynote address of the first day, “What to Expect from the Housing Market in 2021.” As head of the economics department, Wolf manages and analyzes the content for Zonda, provides data analytics, runs special research projects and presents nationwide, covering topics across the housing market and the wider economy.

Following the keynote, sessions will include such topics as blower doors, residential ventilation, lateral load paths and more. A plenary titled “The House That SHE Built: A Showcase for Women in Homebuilding” by the Utah Chapter of the National Association of Home Builders Professional Women in Building Council will cap the educational portion of the day. During the plenary, the speakers will discuss the home build project that has the goal of highlighting and utilizing women professionals, skilled tradeswomen and women-owned companies for all stages of the project.

An evening networking event will conclude the first day of the conference. The casual, online happy hour will allow conference attendees to connect with fellow attendees over shared industry questions and knowledge.

The second day of the conference will focus on sessions pertaining to high-performance housing, as well as land development and planning. Karen Parolek will give the keynote, “Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Building Small.” Parolek is co-founder and principal at Opticos Design, an architecture and urban design firm specializing in healthy, walkable and equitable communities. As the chief architects of the Missing Middle Housing movement, Parolek and her partners speak and advocate for Missing Middle Housing as both a critical element of walkable communities and an effective tool to address the needs for housing choice and affordability. Parolek also co-wrote the book “Form-Based Codes” and is a leading innovator and educator in zoning reform for walkable communities across the U.S. and abroad.

Sessions continue with such topics as life cycle analysis for housing, land banks, healthy homes, stormwater management and elder cottage housing.

Up to 10 continuing education credits are available for this conference through the American Institute of Architects, the International Code Council, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Additionally, engineers and registered landscape architects can receive professional development hours pending individual session approval.

For more information about the 2021 conference or to register, visit the PHRC website at Additionally, affordable sponsorship opportunities are still available.


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Day 1 keynote speaker Ali Wolf, chief economist for Zonda, for the 29th annual PHRC Housing Conference. IMAGE: PROVIDED BY ALI WOLF

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Day 2 keynote speaker Karen Parolek, co-founder and principal at Opticos Design, for the 29th annual PHRC Housing Conference. IMAGE: PROVIDED BY KAREN PAROLEK