musingsheader image

Nuggets From the 2015 Westford Symposium

New perspectives on ventilating multifamily buildings, insulating old brick buildings, and achieving thermal comfort

Posted on Aug 14 2015 by Martin Holladay

Building science experts, architects, engineers, and builders from across the U.S., Canada, and Europe gathered in early August in Westford, Massachusetts, for the 19th annual Westford Building Science Symposium, a conference sometimes known as “Summer Camp.”

Over three lively days filled with education, networking, and drinking, experts gave ten presentations on a variety of building science topics.

Tags: , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Martin Holladay
  2. Images #2 and #3: David Boyer and Tom Schneider / Prosoco
  3. Images #4 and #5: Lorne Ricketts / RDH Building Engineering
  4. Images #6 through #10: Ekaterina Tzekova / University of Toronto

building-scienceheader image

Must the Three Pigs Die?

Robert Bean says that combustion, customization, and complexity are the bane of buildings

Posted on Aug 12 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

Building Science Summer Camp was last week. That means I was in Massachusetts with 500 of my closest friends, staying up too late, talking building science out the wazoo, and attending some great presentations from leaders in the world of building science.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. Walter on flickr. com
  2. Energy Vanguard
  3. Public domain
  4. Robert Bean

green-building-blogheader image

Foam Shrinks, and Other Lessons

What we learned from updating a 16-year-old deep-energy retrofit

Posted on Feb 23 2015 by Joe Lstiburek

I did a deep-energy retrofit on my barn 16 years ago. Building Science Corp. was young and growing, and we needed a bigger office. The barn would be that office for the next 10 years. In fact, Betsy Pettit wrote about it in “Remodeling for Energy Efficiency” (FHB #194).

Tags: , , , , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. Daniel Morrison

musingsheader image

Rainscreen Gaps and Igloos

A report from the 2013 Westford Symposium on Building Science

Posted on Aug 9 2013 by Martin Holladay

For the past 17 years, Joe Lstiburek and Betsy Pettit have hosted an annual conference, the Westford Symposium on Building Science, near their home in Massachusetts. Informally known as “summer camp,” the invitation-only gathering attracts hundreds of builders, engineers, architects, professors, and building science researchers.

The attendees listen to presentations at a conference center during the day and relax in Joe and Betsy’s backyard during the evening.

Tags: , , , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. Martin Holladay
  2. Karyn Patno

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

Air Leakage Degrades the Thermal Performance of Walls

No surprises here — but testing by the Building Science Corporation begins to quantify the problem

Posted on Sep 28 2012 by Martin Holladay

For the past five years, researchers at the Building Science Corporation (BSC) in Massachusetts have been testing the thermal performance of a variety of wall assemblies as part of an ambitious project to develop a new metric to replace R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. . (I last reported on the project in my August 2011 article, A Bold Attempt to Slay R-Value.)

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

musingsheader image

Joe Lstiburek Discusses Basement Insulation and Vapor Retarders

An all-day seminar with Dr. Joe yields two news stories, a six-digit idea, and plenty of quotable opinions and conclusions

Posted on Jun 15 2012 by Martin Holladay

Dr. Joseph Lstiburek needs little introduction. The well-known Canadian engineer is a principal of the Building Science Corporation in Massachusetts. He’s also a regular GBA podcaster and Fine Homebuilding author.

On Wednesday, June 6th, I attended an all-day building science class presented by Dr. Joe in Westford, Massachusetts. As usual, his presentation combined salty language, corny jokes, light-hearted insults, and rock-solid building science information.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. Sustainable Performance Institute

green-building-newsheader image

Joe Lstiburek’s Airtightness Goals

The renowned building engineer explains why the Passivhaus limit of 0.6 ach50 is just fine — except when it isn’t

Posted on Sep 22 2011 by Richard Defendorf

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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Image Credits:


musingsheader image

A Bold Attempt to Slay R-Value

A group of building science researchers is trying to invent a new metric for measuring the thermal performance of walls and ceilings

Posted on Aug 19 2011 by Martin Holladay

R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. is the poor stepchild of building science metrics. Although it is often essential for builders, designers, and engineers to know a material’s R-value, this useful metric is regularly abused, derided, and ridiculed for its shortcomings. “R-value doesn’t measure assembly effects: thermal bridges, air movement, 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. , moisture content — all of which can all affect thermal properties,” explained Chris Schumacher, an engineer and researcher at Building Science Corporation, at a summer symposium in 2009. “R-value doesn’t do a good job describing the entire system.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. Building Science Corporation

green-building-blogheader image

Stuff I Learned at Joe Lstiburek’s House, Part 1

Everything I thought I knew about combined hydronic heat and hot water (combo) systems utilizing tankless water heaters is up for debate

Posted on Aug 10 2011 by Michael Chandler

The invitation was too cool to be real: My name was somehow on a list of “experts” who were invited to take part in a Building America Water Heater Expert Session on combo systems. The invite noted that the session was to be the day before Joe Lstiburek’s Building Science Summer Camp, and “it is expected that the information obtained will lend itself toward the eventual production of a guide for the best practice application of combination space and domestic water heating systems for new and retrofit residential construction.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Image Credits:

  1. M. Chandler
  2. Armando Cobo

Register for a free account and join the conversation

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

Syndicate content