Convincing Clients to Upgrade to Pretty Good (or Better)

Posted on April 18,2015 by Mike_Maines in IAQ

How do you convince clients to upgrade from code-minimum (or worse) construction to Pretty Good House, or better, levels of performance? How do you ventilate a commercial-style range in an airtight house? If your house was a car, what kind of car would it be? What do these questions have in common? They were all discussion points at a December 2, 2014 conference in Maine, co-hosted by the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council (MIAQC) and the Maine Association of Building Efficiency Professionals (MABEP).

A Heat-Recovery Ventilation System for the Potwine Passivhaus

Posted on April 18,2015 by in Amherst

As they set out to build a single-family Passivhaus on Potwine Lane in Amherst, Massachusetts, Alexi Arango and LeeAnn Kim asked themselves, “Is it possible to live without burning fossil fuels?” One measure of success would be meeting their goal of net-zero energy performance. This is the ninth blog in a series.

It’s Alive! – Visiting a Certified Living Building

Posted on April 18,2015 by CarlSeville in LEED Platinum

On vacation in Hawaii recently (yes, life is really tough for us consultants), I had the opportunity to visit the Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Energy Lab, the first classroom and the third building certified under the Living Building Challenge Program.

Beware of This Expensive Ventilation Scam

Posted on April 18,2015 by ab3 in basement

How much does an exhaust fan cost? Search online and you can find lots of them that move 200 cubic feet per minute (cfm) for $100 to $150. But, if you put one in a semi-attractive (emphasis on the "semi") package, create some fancy marketing materials, and target people who don't know much building science, you can charge $1,200 to $1,700 for that same fan. At least that seems to be the business plan for these three companies.

What Fruit Flies Taught Me About Sustainable Living

Posted on April 18,2015 by CarlSeville in fans

Last summer my house developed a fruit fly infestation, due to the fact that I had a lot of fresh fruit sitting around ripening on my counters. I recall once using aerosol bombs to get rid of them, but I figured this time around I would look for a slightly less toxic solution. A quick web search turned up details for a standard fruit fly trap, consisting of a jar with a little cider vinegar and dish soap, covered with clear plastic with a few holes in it. The flies are attracted to the vinegar, fly in, get coated with dish soap, and drown in the cider.

Another Report on the Great Ventilation Rate Debate

Posted on April 18,2015 by Nate_Adams in ACI

Here is my rundown of the recent Affordable Comfort (ACI) conference in Detroit. It was great to catch up with — or at least brush by — longtime industry friends, in the case of Allison Bailes of Energy Vanguard and Andy Frank of Sealed. It’s really cool that the industry is small enough you can become friends with even the big names.

The Great Ventilation Debate, Live at the ACI Conference

Posted on April 18,2015 by ab3 in ACI conference

Last week at the Affordable Comfort Conference (also known as ACI), I co-moderated a panel called The Great Ventilation Standard Debate.1 Duncan Prahl of Ibacos proposed the session and rounded up a collection of some of best building science folks in North America to be on the panel.

My Earth Tube Story

Posted on April 18,2015 by MalcomIsaacs in earth tube

I saw my first “earth tube” back in 2004, on a tour of row houses in Darmstadt, Germany — a tour which had been organized by the Passivhaus Institut (PHI) to show international visitors some examples of Passivhaus construction. As a visiting Canadian engineer specializing in residential energy efficiency, this was a novel and, for me, unheard-of way to temper incoming ventilation air from extremes of heat and cold.

Building a Foolproof Low-Slope Roof

Posted on April 18,2015 by ScottG in cathedral ceiling

Carolyn Wood is building a house 80 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia, and if nothing else she'd like to get all the details in the roof assembly right. The question is whether the house is too far along to let her reach that goal. The roof, with a 2-in-12 pitch, is framed with I-joists, strapped with 2x4s, and sheathed with 1/2-in. plywood. Above the roof sheathing, the roofers plan to install NovaSeal roofing underlayment and standing-seam metal roofing.

Residential Commissioning

Posted on April 18,2015 by user-756436 in commissioning

Building a new home usually requires work by several subcontractors, including electricians, plumbers, and HVAC installers. At the end of the job, someone — usually the general contractor — has to verify that all of the specified work has been completed. Has the water heater been installed? Check. Air conditioner? Check. Ducts? Check. Ventilation system? Check.

An Interview with Dr. Iain Walker on Ventilation

Posted on April 18,2015 by ab3 in ASHRAE 62.2

The debate over how much to ventilate a home has been going on a long time. Last year, Building Science Corporation introduced its own standard to compete against ASHRAE 62.2 because (according to Dr. Joseph Lstiburek) of problems that weren't adequately addressed in the ASHRAE standard. I've written about the standard and interviewed Lstiburek and ASHRAE 62.2 committee chair Paul Francisco. (See links at bottom.)

Exhaust-Only Ventilation Systems and Radon

Posted on April 18,2015 by user-756436 in bathroom exhaust

Articles on mechanical ventilation commonly warn builders that exhaust-only ventilation systems can pull radon into a house through foundation cracks. The warning makes intuitive sense: after all, an exhaust-only ventilation system works by depressurizing a house with respect to the outdoors, and it seems obvious that depressurization could pull soil gases into a basement. One thing I’ve learned over the years, however, is that just because an idea is intuitively obvious, doesn’t mean it’s true. Throughout history, many observers have speculated; far fewer have actually made measurements.

Commissioning Our Heat-Recovery Ventilator

Posted on April 18,2015 by AlexWilson in airflow

In last week's blog I described our state-of-the-art Zehnder heat-recovery ventilator (HRV), explaining its various features and specifications. This week I’ll review what should be a critical step in the installation of any HRV: commissioning, including the critical step of balancing the air flow. This is absolutely necessary to ensure proper operation and full satisfaction from a Zehnder HRV and most other HRVs.

Providing Fresh Air in Our Home

Posted on April 18,2015 by AlexWilson in ERV

One of the features in our new house that I’m most excited about barely raises an eyebrow with some of our visitors: the ventilation system. I believe we have the highest-efficiency heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) on the market — or at least it’s right up there near the top. I’ll describe this Zehnder HRV and its impressive specifications and features — but not until next week. This week I’ll provide a little background on ventilation.

Should Occupants Have Control of Their Home Ventilation System?

Posted on April 18,2015 by ab3 in HVAC

One of the points of contention in the great ventilation debate is whether a home's occupants should control their own ventilation systems.

The Mixed-Up IAQ and Infiltration Limit Blues

Posted on April 18,2015 by ab3 in indoor air quality

Last week, I caught the second day of Building Science Corporation's Experts' Session. (Click the link to download the presentations from the BSC website.) Joe Lstiburek spoke the whole day about ventilation, and I’ll be writing an article about that soon. At the end of that day, though, we got a little surprise.

Will More Ventilation Keep Students from Missing School?

Posted on April 18,2015 by ab3 in indoor air quality

A new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) makes a bold claim that increasing ventilation rates can cut the number of student absences related to illness.

The Ventilation Omission That Can Make You Sweat

Posted on April 18,2015 by ab3 in ERV

If you're designing a ventilation system, first you have to determine how much outdoor air the house needs. You can use the ASHRAE 62.2 standard or the new BSC-01 standard for that task. Then you have to decide what type of ventilation system to use: positive pressure, negative pressure, or balanced. In many green homes, the balanced system is becoming a popular choice.

Most ‘Houses That Breathe’ Aren’t Very Comfortable

Posted on April 18,2015 by bobswin in air leakage

Recently I heard another comment from a builder who wants to build a house that breathes. I started to reply in an e-mail, and then decided to write a blog instead. What we are doing nowadays in the world of high-performance homes is based on studying hundreds of thousands of houses built in the last half century that have failed — including the majority of superinsulated and passive solar homes built in the 1970s and 1980s in the Northeast — and applying those lessons to building a durable house.

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