Building Science

A Drainage Plane Time Bomb Defused

Posted on February 5, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

I don't think I can ever say it enough, but the building enclosure consists of several control layers and each one has its job. The primary control layer is the one that keeps liquid water out, and it can be a tricky business.

Take the case of this condo building (yes, it's in the community where I live). It's got several problems, so I went to bat for building science here.

A Plethora of Building Science Conferences

Posted on January 27, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

I love going to conferences. Since I changed my career in 2004, I've gone to building science, green building, and home performance conferences nearly every year. (I think I missed 2006, but I had a lot going on then.) Last year I went to eleven of them, but then I'm a bit unusual.

You certainly don't have to go to that many, but if you're a home builder, home performance contractor, or home energy pro, I do recommend going to one conference a year so you can keep up with the latest trends, talk to your peers, and maybe add some arrows to your quiver.

Fiberglass Insulation Manufacturer Tackles Installation Quality

Posted on January 21, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

One of the major fiberglass insulation manufacturers (the color in the lead photo gives away which one I'm talking about) is getting serious about the installation quality of fiberglass batt insulationInsulation, usually of fiberglass or mineral wool and often faced with paper, typically installed between studs in walls and between joists in ceiling cavities. Correct installation is crucial to performance. . They've put out a video (embedded below) and a document showing how to achieve RESNET Grade 1 installation quality with fiberglass batts. Have you seen these things yet?

Three Types of Heating and Cooling Loads

Posted on January 14, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

What is it about the number three? You've got the Three Musketeers, the Three Little Pigs, and the Three Stooges. Then there's three strikes (what every pitcher wants), three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial), and the three kinds of people (those who can do math and those who can't). And let's not forget three on a match, three wise men, and threepeats.

Today we'll look at another big three: the three types of heating and cooling loads. Do you know what they are already?

How Replacing a Furnace Can Make You Less Comfortable

Posted on January 7, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Let's say your trusty old furnace is at the end of its life. You've got to buy a new one, so you call your HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. company and they rush over to make sure you don't freeze during the next cold snap. They go and take a look at your furnace and find its capacity. They come back and tell you that you have a furnace rated for 60,000 BTUBritish thermal unit, the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water (about a pint) one degree Fahrenheit in temperature—about the heat content of one wooden kitchen match. One Btu is equivalent to 0.293 watt-hours or 1,055 joules. per hour and then talk to you about some of the options.

Choosing a Base Temperature for Degree Days

Posted on December 17, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Degree days are a combination of time and temperature. We looked at their uses and where they come from in Part 1 of this series, and now it's time to go a little deeper.

The temperature enters as a temperature difference, ΔT (delta T), but it's not the ΔT between inside and outside of the building. It's the difference between the outdoor temperature and the base temperature. But what is this thing called base temperature?

Energy Efficiency Is Narrowing the Stupid/Hurt Gap

Posted on December 10, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

The gap is narrowing. What gap, you ask? Why, the gap between stupid and hurt, of course. So says Dr. Joe Lstiburek. Allow me to explain.

Sometimes when you do something stupid, it hurts immediately. A toddler touches a hot kettle, for example, and instantly starts crying in pain. That's a learning experience.

If that pain didn't happen until an hour or a day had passed, however, the child would have a tough time learning not to touch hot kettles. Building or remodeling homes is a lot like that.

The Importance of Defining the Building Enclosure

Posted on December 3, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

The photo at right shows a common problem in new homes. It's also one that can make it difficult to pass the blower door test required by many building codes these days. If I tell you that the wall pictured here separates two rooms in a basement and one of them is not conditioned, can you see the problem? If so, how many mistakes do you see here?

The Principles, Uses, and Limitations of WUFI

Posted on November 26, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Dr. Joseph Lstiburek started it in 2012 when, in his keynote address at the Passive House conference, he said igloos were the first passive houses and you don't need WUFI,1 the hygrothermalA term used to characterize the temperature (thermal) and moisture (hygro) conditions particularly with respect to climate, both indoors and out. modeling tool, to design and build a good house.

How NOT to Install Windows in a New Home

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

I see a lot of interesting stuff at construction sites and in people's homes. I also see stuff I never got to see because people send me photos. I like photos! Remember that
ice chest someone had incorporated into a duct system? That was sent to me. So are the first two photos in this article.

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