Musings of an Energy Nerd

Two Views of Double-Stud Walls

Posted on April 7, 2017 by Martin Holladay

At the recent BuildingEnergy 17 conference in Boston, there were at least two presentations that touched on double-stud walls. John Straube, a professor of building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials. science at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, used his presentation to raise a warning flag, noting that “these walls will work if everything works — if there aren’t any defects — but they don’t work if there is something wrong.”

What’s the R-value of Cedar Shingle Siding?

Posted on March 31, 2017 by Martin Holladay

White cedar has an R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. of about R-1.4 per inch, so it isn't too hard to calculate the R-value of white cedar siding. The trickiest part of the calculation is determining the siding thickness.

If we're talking about cedar shingles, there are usually a maximum of three layers of shingles at any one point in the wall. The shingles are tapered, so the total thickness of the siding includes layers with different thicknesses. (The butt of the shingle may measure 3/8 inch; the top of the shingle may measure 1/16 inch; and the middle of the shingle may measure 3/16 inch).

Who Can Perform My Load Calculations?

Posted on March 24, 2017 by Martin Holladay

To design a residential heating or cooling system, the first step is to perform a load calculation. (A load calculation determines the size of a building’s heating loadRate at which heat must be added to a space to maintain a desired temperature. See cooling load. on one of the coldest nights of the year and the size of a building’s cooling load on one of the hottest afternoons of the year.) It’s important to know the size of these loads to determine the size of the required heating and cooling equipment.

Installing Closed-Cell Spray Foam Between Studs is a Waste

Posted on March 17, 2017 by Martin Holladay

Open-cell spray foam has an R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. of about R-3.7 per inch, while closed-cell spray foam has an R-value that may be as high as R-6.5 per inch. If you want to install spray foam in a stud wall, and price is no object, then it would seem to make sense to specify closed-cell spray foam, right?

Not necessarily.

A Visit to a LEED Platinum Office Building

Posted on March 10, 2017 by Martin Holladay

While I’ve designed a few single-family homes, I’m well aware that designing a high-rise office building is a whole ’nother kettle of fish. The challenge is far greater — at least an order-of-magnitude greater — requiring an experienced team that includes architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, and energy consultants.

Three Superinsulated Houses in Vermont

Posted on March 3, 2017 by Martin Holladay

Efficiency Vermont, a nonprofit agency that provides financial incentives for energy-efficiency improvements by homeowners, builders, and businesses in Vermont, has developed a certification program for new homes called the High Performance Certification.

Zero-Energy Construction is ‘Set to Explode’

Posted on February 24, 2017 by Martin Holladay

California regulators have established an ambitious policy goal: Beginning in 2020, all new homes in the state must be designed for net-zero-energy operation. (GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com has published at least four news stories on California's net-zero target: here, here, here, and here.)

Comparing Carpentry Tools to Surgical Tools

Posted on February 17, 2017 by Martin Holladay

Two hundred years ago, a ship's carpenter had many duties. In addition to repairing the ship, a carpenter would be called on to perform emergency amputations. Why? He was the one who had the saws.

Modern surgeons still require saws, as well as drills, chisels, scrapers, and grinders. As a lighthearted exercise that has almost nothing to do with green building, I recently got the idea to compare surgical tools with carpentry tools.

Full disclosure: This blog is for fun. It is completely empty of any building science.

GBA Prime Sneak Peek: Fine Homebuilding Editors Interview Martin Holladay

Posted on February 10, 2017 by Martin Holladay

My fellow editors at Fine Homebuilding — Justin Fink, Rob Yagid, and Brian Pontolilo — have been hosting a weekly podcast for several months. They recently invited me to join them in a sound studio at the Fine Homebuilding office to record a conversation on a variety of building science topics.

This week, I'm taking a break from my usual blog-writing schedule, substituting a two-part podcast recording. Click on one of the green triangles to start listening.

Bill Rose’s Building Science To-Do List

Posted on February 3, 2017 by Martin Holladay

William Rose is fun to listen to. The author of a landmark book, Water in Buildings, Rose is a research architect at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a widely respected building scientist.

Rose’s speaking style is discursive, meandering, hesitant, and occasionally poetic. He shares historical anecdotes that sometimes seem only remotely relevant to his topic. Eventually, however, he sews together a patchwork quilt with a unified theme.

Register for a free account and join the conversation


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

Syndicate content