Don’t Be an Air Hole! — Part 1

Posted on May 05,2015 by ChrisBriley in airtightness

It's back to the basics with this one, folks. Back in 2013, we were asked to do a presentation at NESEA for the “Fundementals” track — something similar to our “Sprout Follies” podcast. We put together a PowerPoint presentation, and did our best to deal with the fact that our cocktails would be coffee. It was well received, so we thought it would be a good idea to share a condensed version of that presentation as a podcast here at GBA.

A Review of Siga Wigluv Air-Sealing Tape

Posted on May 05,2015 by Matt Risinger in air barrier

Every house needs four control layers. In order of importance, these layers need to provide:

  1. 1. Water control
  2. 2. Air control
  3. 3. Vapor control
  4. 4. Thermal control
The building codes have dictated the levels of thermal control and vapor control that builders must adhere to, and nearly every builder in the U.S. knows off the top of their head the R-value of the insulation in their walls and attics.

Plugging Air Leaks Would Save Billions

Posted on May 05,2015 by ScottG in air leakage

Bringing all U.S. homes to airtightness levels spelled out in the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code would save as much as $33 billion in energy costs annually, according to new research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Providing Outdoor Combustion Air for a Wood Stove

Posted on May 05,2015 by westychris in air sealing

In November 2012, I started on a deep energy retrofit of my 1976 raised ranch in northwestern Vermont, in the shadow of Mount Mansfield. As a Passive House consultant, I wanted to make my leaky (8.25 ach50) house with fiberglass-filled 2x4 walls and a tuck-under garage much more energy-efficient.

Energy Upgrades for Beginners

Posted on May 05,2015 by user-756436 in air leak

Owners of older homes often contact GBA and ask, “What can I do to make my home more energy-efficient?” My standard answer goes something like this: “The first step is to hire a certified rater to perform an energy audit of your home. The audit report will include a tailor-made list of retrofit measures to address your home’s specific problems.”

Meet the Tightest House in the World

Posted on May 05,2015 by ScottG in ach50

A Dillingham, Alaska, couple has claimed a world record for airtightness in a 600-sq. ft. home with 28-in. thick walls and a ceiling rated at R-140. According to the World Record Academy, a blower-door test measured 0.05 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure (ACH50), less than 10% of the very rigorous Passivhaus air-tightness standard of 0.60 ACH50.

Green Building for Beginners

Posted on May 05,2015 by user-756436 in air leakage

Green building websites can be confusing. One site might tell you that a green home should include spray foam insulation, a tankless water heater, and a geothermal heating system. After you’ve absorbed this advice, you visit another website, where you learn that spray foam is a dangerous petrochemical, tankless water heaters are overpriced gadgets, and “geothermal” systems aren’t really geothermal.

Major Thermal Bypasses

Posted on May 05,2015 by user-1048334 in air leaks

First, a bit about my writing: I write in longhand, whenever I have some spare time. Between audits, at lunch, after the gym, when stopping for a coffee. Then I type the notes up. The thing is that I find a lot more spare time in my walking-around day than at the home or office. To say there is a bottleneck getting these notes into electronic form is a disservice to good-flowing bottles everywhere. This is by way of explaining an upcoming sentence.

Unity Homes Combines Prefab with Energy Efficiency

Posted on May 05,2015 by Fretboard in 0.6 ach50

Like many builders, Tedd Benson and his team at Bensonwood Homes have taken an active interest in the emerging market for energy-efficient homes. In addition to developing panelized construction techniques and producing many custom timber frame commercial and residential buildings since its founding in 1974, Bensonwood built a home in Norwich, Vermont, to the Passivhaus standard.

What’s a Blower Door Good For?

Posted on May 05,2015 by ab3 in ach50

In last week's blog, I suggested that talking about infiltration rates in terms of air changes per hour isn’t an accurate way to portray air leakage. The problem is that you’re dividing by volume but the leaks happen at the surface. I don’t think ACH50 is going away anytime soon, and I use it myself because everyone else does, even though it’s biased toward larger houses.

Green Basics Air Barriers

Service Cavities for Wiring and Plumbing

Posted on May 05,2015 by user-756436 in air barrier

Conventional wood-framed walls perform many functions. Exterior walls are supposed to support the roof load, resist racking, and provide insulation. They must also provide space for routing electrical cables and (in some cases) plumbing pipes or even ductwork. If the walls are built properly, they should also include an air barrier.

Striving for Passivhaus Affordability

Posted on May 05,2015 by Fretboard in airtightness

For builder Christian Corson, low numbers are good numbers. His current project, a 1,600-sq.-ft. two-bedroom Passivhaus in Knox, Maine, has been testing well and not costing much.

The Case of the Mystery Gas Leak

Posted on May 05,2015 by ScottG in air tightness

What began as an attempt to track down the source of air leaks in his one-year-old home has [no-glossary]led[/no-glossary] Kevin Hilton to a deeper mystery — a natural gas odor that is apparent only when energy auditors are running a blower-door test. As Hilton explains in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, the source of the gas leak has been impossible to track down so far.

Top 10 Air Leaks in Existing Homes – Part 2

Posted on May 05,2015 by Tristan Roberts in air barrier

From an energy-efficiency standpoint, the trouble with owning an old home is that you’re stuck with whatever bad decisions the previous owners made, and historical trends also tend to work against you. The trouble with building a new home is that you are the one that is going to make the bad decisions. The best opportunity to make important decisions that will deliver energy efficiency for the life of the home is during design. There is rapid diminution of these opportunities during construction and then during use of the home.

Are Blower-Door Regulations Too Big a Burden?

Posted on May 05,2015 by ScottG in airtightness

Building tight houses is a fundamental step toward energy efficiency, and figuring out how well you’ve done is actually pretty simple. Air leakage is calculated with a blower-door test. A technician depressurizes the house with a blower sealed into a doorway and measures how much air can pass through the building envelope.

Joe Lstiburek’s Airtightness Goals

Posted on May 05,2015 by Fretboard in air leaks

In commentary recently posted to the Building Science Corporation website, building scientist Joe Lstiburek takes a stroll down memory lane and reflects on his attempts in the early 1980s to help develop an airtightness standard for residential construction in Canada.

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