Building Science

Thou Shalt Commission Thy Ducts!

Posted on September 11, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

The typical new home gets a heating and air conditioning system that's about two times too large. I've  discussed oversized air conditioners many times before.

Patent Troll Wins First Case Over Use of Infrared Cameras

Posted on September 4, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

A year or two ago, I remember getting trapped in my car one evening listening to Ira Glass's show This American Life. It was an episode titled When Patents Attack, and I was riveted. The show described how a seemingly small change in the U.S. patent office's protocol led to the growth of an industry that siphons money from tech companies through legal, but sketchy, license fees and lawsuits.

A Failure That Stalls the Certification of Many Energy Star Homes

Posted on August 28, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Let me tell you a little story about the day that Jeffrey went to test several Habitat for Humanity houses that are going for certification in the Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. new homes program (the one in the photo here was not one of them). This was a couple of weeks ago, but I wrote down the numbers he told me because I think you may be somewhat surprised.

Solving Comfort Problems Caused by Attic Kneewalls

Posted on August 21, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

In Texas, they call them “hot walls.” My friend Mike Barcik likes to say they’re what separate you from the blast furnace. Down here in the warmer climate zones, where attics get up to 8,000°F (well, that may be a slight exaggeration), many people call them a liability. (Sadly, architects haven't gotten the message.)

A Stupid — and Illegal — Way to Air Condition Your Garage

Posted on August 14, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Sometimes people do the craziest things. Take that photo at right, for example. That's a new home being built in Austin, Texas. The arrows point to three air conditioning ducts. In the garage. Yes, they're air conditioning the garage.

ASHRAE 62.2 Committee Chair Defends Ventilation Standard

Posted on August 7, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

The great ventilation debate of 2013 roars on. Last month, I wrote about Building Science Corporation's residential ventilation standard for new homes, to be released officially at Building Science Summer Camp this week, and then followed that up with an interview with Dr. Joseph Lstiburek.

An Interview with Dr. Joseph Lstiburek

Posted on July 31, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Dr. Joe Lstiburek of Building Science Corporation is on a mission. The issue is residential ventilation. He contends that the residential ventilation standard, ASHRAE 62.2A standard for residential mechanical ventilation systems established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Among other requirements, the standard requires a home to have a mechanical ventilation system capable of ventilating at a rate of 1 cfm for every 100 square feet of occupiable space plus 7.5 cfm per occupant., ventilates at too high a rate, causing problems with humidity in hot or mixed humid climates, comfort and dryness in cold climates, and too much energy use everywhere. The 2013 version makes it worse.

Grow Your Own Green ... Insulation, That Is

Posted on July 24, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

Rather than blowing agents, this insulation uses growing agents. It's natural. It's made with agricultural waste and fungi. You can grow it in place. No hydrocarbons are involved, and it yields little to no toxic waste. Compared to most other insulation materials, it takes little energy to make the stuff (low embodied energyEnergy that goes into making a product; includes energy required for growth, extraction, and transportation of the raw material as well as manufacture, packaging, and transportation of the finished product. Embodied energy is often used to measure ecological cost.). Indoor air quality is likely to be better, too.

Wow! If you're looking for a super green insulation, mushroom insulation could be for you... if you can wait a bit longer.

EPA Warns Against Unapproved Refrigerants in Air Conditioners

Posted on July 17, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

"A New Zealand technician got fire balled in the face," a member of the HVAC-talk.com forum stated bluntly. He was referring to a case in New Zealand where an HVAC tech got burned when he thought he was working on a system with R-22 refregerant, which is not flammable, but which instead was filled with propane, which is flammable.

Resistance May NOT Be Futile in the Residential Ventilation Wars

Posted on July 10, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor

“ASHRAE 62 is the only national consensus standard document there is. Follow 62.2. Resistance is futile.” So said Dr. Max Sherman last summer in a presentation for the Building America Technical Update meeting. (Download pdf official report here.) That statement about resistance being futile isn’t generally a line you want pinned to you if you’re trying to win hearts and minds, but I asked Sherman about it.

Register for a free account and join the conversation


Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!

Syndicate content