building enclosure

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Thinking Clearly About the 3 Levels of the Building Enclosure

Doing so can help you avoid scams, investigate failures, and maximize performance

Posted on Sep 20 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD
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When you approach the subject of building science, especially regarding heat, air, and moisture flows through a building enclosure, it's easy to get confused. There's a lot to learn: blower door testing, insulation grading, R-value, vapor permeance, radiant barriers, combustion safety, solar heat gain coefficients, and on and on. That's why we break things down into simpler pieces.


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard

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What Is the Ideal Relative Humidity in Winter?

The answer depends on the likelihood of accidental dehumidification

Posted on Feb 24 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD
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It was a little crackly around here recently. We had a cold spell in Atlanta, with high temperatures right around the freezing point. As a result, the indoor relative humidity dropped and we got some static electricity.

Even better, what I call the Southern Lights were visible at night, too. (I've never called it that before, but hey, a man named Allison is entitled to make things up on the spot.) That's when the microfiber blanket on the bed lights up every time I move.


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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Sally Hunter / Flickr.com
  2. Image #2: Erik Henson
  3. Image #3: Energy Vanguard

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How to Become a Building Enclosure Control Freak

The fundamentals of controlling heat, air, and moisture

Posted on Sep 23 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD
prime

Frank Lloyd Wright was a control freak. This was a guy who not only designed houses but also all of the trim details and even the furniture.


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Image Credits:

  1. Wikimedia Commons

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The Importance of Defining the Building Enclosure

This new home has a murky boundary between inside and outside

Posted on Dec 3 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

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?


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard

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How to Get Your Ducts Inside the Building Enclosure

Ducts in unconditioned spaces waste energy

Posted on Dec 4 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

I'm a big advocate of getting ducts inside the building enclosure. In cooling climates, getting ducts out of an unconditioned attic can save you 15% on your electricity bills. It can reduce the size of air conditioner you need by 25%. If it's not in such a harsh environment, your air conditioner will last longer, too.


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard
  2. Alexander Bell
  3. HVAC Hacks and Other Screwups

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Spray Foam Insulation Is Not a Cure-All

Poor installation can negate the benefits of this popular insulation

Posted on Nov 13 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

Spray foam insulation is a great product. Homes insulated with it can be some of the most efficient and comfortable homes built. I've been in plenty of homes insulated with spray foam and can tell you that, when done well, those homes are airtight and comfortable. I’ve also seen homes where the spray foam was a waste of money.


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard

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An Epidemic of Duct Disease and Enclosure Problems

A report of the day I spent going on air conditioner service calls with an HVAC pro

Posted on Jun 26 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

When an air conditioner breaks down in hot weather, homeowners reach for their phone. The HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. company then sends someone out to the home with the immediate goal of getting the AC running again so the occupants will cool off. The thing is, though, that most homes have problems that run deeper than the cause of the broken air conditioner.


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard

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Air Leaks Happen at the Surface, Not in the Volume

So why do we still report blower-door results in ‘air changes per hour’?

Posted on Dec 5 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

During the Westford Symposium on Building Science in 2010,* I was watching the tweets from the people who were there. At one point, I saw this one: “@EFL_Guy: ‘Air leaks through surfaces, not volume’ Joe Lstiburek.” I'd been meaning to blog about this issue for a while, so I wrote an article about it. Now, a couple of years later, it's time for a little update.


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard

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‘Building Enclosure,’ Not ‘Building Envelope’

Language matters, and I’ve decided to join the enclosure crowd

Posted on Nov 21 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

When I wrote about the debate over the terms “building envelope” vs. “building enclosure” recently, I favored the former but overall felt agnostic on whether we should choose one over the other. I didn't think I'd change my mind.


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