history of superinsulation

guest-blogsheader image

The Minergy House

A look back at an early double-envelope house and how it has performed

Posted on Feb 20 2017 by Marc Rosenbaum

The late 1970s were a vibrant time in solar-driven, energy-efficient housing, full of passion and innovation. The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEANorth East Sustainable Energy Association. A regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA is committed to advancing three core elements: sustainable solutions, proven results and cutting-edge development in the field. States included in this region stretch from Maine to Maryland. www.nesea.org) was founded in 1974, and members were in the thick of this experimentation.


Tags: , ,

Image Credits:

  1. Marc Rosenbaum

building-scienceheader image

Joseph Lstiburek Surprises Passive House Conference Attendees

Dr. Joe mixes history, insight, and wit — and decides to show his nice side

Posted on Oct 4 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

At the 2012 Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. Conference in Denver, Dr. Joseph Lstiburek gave the keynote address for the opening plenary (or plenum, as Henry Gifford would say) session. His words, clever as always, added some nice historical perspective to what the Passive House folks are doing but also caught some people off guard.

Read on, and I'll tell you more about that.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard
  2. Wikimedia Commons

musingsheader image

The History of Superinsulated Houses in North America

Slides from a PowerPoint presentation

Posted on Oct 10 2010 by Martin Holladay

Several GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com readers have requested a copy of a presentation on “The History of Superinsulated Houses in North America.” I have made this presentation at three conferences:

  • at the Fourth Annual North American Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. Conference in Urbana, Illinois (October 16, 2009);
  • at the 14th Annual Westford Symposium on Building Science (August 3, 2010); and
  • at the annual meeting of the British Columbia 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. Council in Vancouver (September 22, 2010).

Here it is:


Tags: , , , , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. The Superinsulated Retrofit Book

musingsheader image

Solar Versus Superinsulation: A 30-Year-Old Debate

A dispute from the late ’70s and early ’80s still sheds light on energy-efficient design

Posted on Oct 8 2010 by Martin Holladay

The oil price shock of 1973 sparked a burst of interest in “solar houses.” During the 1970s, owner-builders all over the U.S. erected homes with extensive south-facing glazingWhen referring to windows or doors, the transparent or translucent layer that transmits light. High-performance glazing may include multiple layers of glass or plastic, low-e coatings, and low-conductivity gas fill. — sometimes sloped, sometimes vertical. Many of these houses included added thermal massHeavy, high-heat-capacity material that can absorb and store a significant amount of heat; used in passive solar heating to keep the house warm at night. — concrete floors, concrete-block walls, or 55-gallon drums filled with water.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. At Home In the Sun, Garden Way Publishing
  2. Sun/Earth Buffering and Superinsulation, Community Builders

Register for a free account and join the conversation


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

Syndicate content