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Green Building Blog

Official Summer Camp Program

Best part of August rolling around is Building Science summer camp

Nine consecutive years and counting...
Image Credit: BSC

I look forward to this each summer — my official summer camp confirmation!

Dear Daniel,

Thank you for registering for the Fifteenth Annual Westford Symposium on Building Science. For your reference, please see the details below including the agenda. We look forward to seeing you next week.

–Joseph Lstiburek

Camp Councilor

Course Dates and Location

Monday, August 1 through Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at the Westford Regency inn and Conference Center.

Course Details

Check-in for the symposium will begin Monday morning at 7:30 am outside of the Westford Ballroom on the first floor of the Westford Regency Inn and Conference Center. At that time, you will receive your nametag and registration packet.

Presentations begin each day at 8:30 am.

Lunch will be provided each day between 12 noon and 1:00 pm.

Breaks will be at the discretion of each presenter.

Presentations will end Monday and Tuesday at 4 pm.

The Symposium will close Wednesday at 2:30 pm.

Please scroll down for information on the informal evening festivities.

Course Outline

Day One

Monday: 8:30 am to 2:30 pm

Mr. Gary Nelson, Dr. Collin Olson and Mr. Terry Brennan

Air Leakage Testing

Are you kidding? This is the “Dream Team.” No one, and I mean no one knows more about air leakage testing of buildings than these folks. Gary Nelson makes the best test equipment. Collin Olson figures out the best physics and Terry Brennan figures out how to best use both. So much has happened, especially in the last year or so regarding air leakage testing, especially in big buildings, that a serious discussion on what can and can not be done and what it means needs to take place. This will be a history lesson and a gaze into the future. It will go from single-family detached, to multi-family apartment buildings and hospitals and courthouses and huge warehouses and high rises.

Cameo: Mr. Dave Kimball on “Sealants – a.k.a. Pookey.” Dave is with Dow Corning Corporation. He knows stuff and is a “hoot.” I first ran into him in the Florida panhandle (a.k.a. “The Redneck Riviera”) where folks were trying to keep rain out of high-rise condominiums with sealants. He kept saying stuff like: “I can sell you a sealant – but do you really want a sealant here?” and “I don’t think a sealant is what you need.” He is a “field application technical specialist” – I think it means he knows what he is talking about – I can vouch for that.

Day Two

Tuesday: 8:30 am to 12 noon

Mr. David Hill and Mr. Armin Rudd

Ventilation and HVAC Systems

David Hill is an engineers engineer from Vancouver. He has been designing, building, installing, measuring, fixing and critiquing ventilation systems and HVAC systems for over thirty years. He is extremely knowledgeable, soft spoken and humble. With those last two credentials it remains a mystery as to how he became involved with the Westford Symposium. He will be assisted in his presentation by Armin Rudd who is also extremely knowledgeable, soft spoken and humble. Armin is also an engineers engineer – but from Harrisburg. To paraphrase Samuel Clemens “It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so.” David and Armin are going to focus on the latter.

1:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Mr. Mark Gauvin

The Coquitlam Experience

Mark Gauvin is a general contractor from Vancouver who built a full-scale test hut on the roof of his office building in downtown Coquitlam. That takes serious commitment. The question is why? I mean I thought we already knew everything we needed to know about this moisture stuff. Apparently not. More Samuel Clemens stuff in the afternoon. Mark is also extremely knowledgeable, soft spoken and humble. This seems to be the pattern for the Day Two presenters.

Cameo: Mr. Sam Rashkin on “Interesting Stuff.” This is getting to be an annual Summer Camp thing. Sam is one of the “big dogs” – he used to be at Energy Star and now he is at DOE. When a big dog asks to say a few words to the folks at the Westford Symposium we are always honored and receptive.

Day Three

Wednesday: 8:30 am to 12 noon

Mr. Edward Takahashi

Been There, Done That and Got the T-Shirt

Mr. Edward Takahashi is an architect and an AIA Fellow. Even more impressive he has spent his career fixing buildings. He is a consultant to the legal profession for arbitration and litigation – understanding the architect’s standard of care. It gets even better. He knows stories. He has been involved in almost 1,000 construction industry litigations. Yes, it is true, this means that he is no longer a young man. He is a Summer Camp regular – he usually sits in the front row and asks those difficult questions.

Closing Presentation (1:00 pm to 2:30 pm):

Mr. Chris Schumacher on “Finally Got That Part Done.” You have been hearing rumors for several years on the “thermal metric project” – how to measure the thermal performance of full-scale wall assemblies – with airflow and without airflow. We are finally able to talk about results. Yes, the best has been saved for last.

Evening Festivities

At the end of classes every day you are all welcome to come back to Betsy’s and my house (the official summer camp clubhouse) to eat, drink and be merry until the wee hours. Over the past years we have observed an increase in the quality of beer, wine, spirits and food available each evening accounting for the indisputable increase in the rate of consumption.

Of course, quiet dinners are available at surrounding restaurants. Those of you who go out for dinner are welcome to come by later to share some interesting conversation.

Also, in keeping with tradition, informal festivities commence during the weekend prior (Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31) at the residence of Joe and Betsy. On Sunday the activities begin with the firing up of the mother of all grills and the official tasting of the summer camp brews.

As per tradition Pete Consigli (who needs no introduction) will be on hand to aid in the preparation and consumption of food.

The Texans (led by Tommie Jr.) will be running the barbeque on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Also, the Cubans are coming. Nothing else needs to be said here.

We have arraigned for a shuttle service between the hotel and the house throughout Summer Camp. Take advantage of this. Drinking and driving is against the law in Massachusetts and dangerous. Do not drink and drive.

We have plenty of parking behind our house. Do not park on the street. Find our driveway and follow it to the back of our property. Or even better leave the car at the hotel and take the shuttle. At a minimum make friends and car pool.


  1. user-1002005 | | #1

    How does one get an invite for that?
    Is this real? It's not on their website under seminars....

  2. Daniel Morrison | | #2

    It is an invitation-only event. I was lucky enough to be invited after I stumbled into a job at Fine Homebuilding and chased after Dr. Joe for an article.

    But most people get invited because they are smart.

    Joe is, however, giving small-group seminars in his barn. Click 'rennovation and rehabilitation' on the seminars page at

    I expect that there will be some updates on GBA throughout the symposium as our senior editor, Martin Holladay, will be there also. Mike Chandler and Carl Seville have been there in the past, so you may see updates from them too.


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