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BS* + Beer

The BS* + Beer Show: Craftsmanship and Building Science

A multidirectional conversation about the art, science, and craft of building homes

Left to right: John Houlihan, Nick Schiffer, and Tyler Grace

This episode of the BS* + Beer show features Nick Schiffer, Tyler Grace, and John Houlihan discussing the idea of craftsmanship in conjunction with building science. They address the push and pull between building performance and aesthetic appeal, the challenge of “selling” energy efficiency/occupant comfort, and the role of real estate professionals in making that value understood. There’s talk of building science as craft, i.e. the skill required to detail houses to perform optimally—arguably the craftsperson’s ultimate responsibility. The takeaway: If you build a house to last and make it good-looking, it will stand the test of time because it will be maintained for generations. And that is the art and science of green building. 

Enjoy the show! 


Join us on Thursday, January 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. EST for a conversation with John Siegenthaler, Albie Barden, and Patrick McCombe around the idea of “Heating With Wood,” which is something of a loaded topic in the green building community. On the one hand, wood is a renewable fuel source, is available domestically, and can provide backup heating during power outages. Then again, it can also be polluting and dangerous. Martin Holladay writes about the arguments both for and against wood heating in his article “Should Green Homes Burn Wood?”  It’s a good prelude to next week’s show, when our guests will tackle the question: How can we use this natural, traditional, and affordable fuel source most effectively? 

Use this link to register for The BS* + Beer Show

Speaker bios

John Siegenthaler, P.E. is principal at Appropriate Designs, a team of engineering professionals dedicated to advancing the science and proper application of modern hydronic (water-based) heating. He is a mechanical engineering graduate of Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute and a licensed professional engineer. He has over 36 years of experience designing modern hydronic heating systems. John is also an Associate Professor Emeritus of engineering technology at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, N.Y. He is the author of the textbooks Modern Hydronic Heating, and Heating With Renewable Energy, and has written numerous other publications dealing with hydronic heating. 

Albie Barden is a Maine native. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s of divinity from Yale. Barden did a brief stint as a priest in the Episcopal Church before co-founding Spring Growth, the first back-to-the-land-appropriate technology event in Maine. He is co-founder of Northeast Carry, the Common Ground Fair, Maine Wood Heat Co., the Masonry Heater Association of North America, Maine Grain Alliance, the Kneading Conference, and Flint Corn in Maine. He is also a designer and builder of masonry heaters, cookers, and bake ovens with over 40 years of experience, as well as the inventor and manufacturer of the Albie Core masonry heater core-kit system. He distributes Tulikivi soapstone masonry heaters and other kit systems, and has designed low-cost flue-tile masonry heaters. Finnish Fireplaces: Heart of the Home, and several manuals on masonry heaters, cookstoves, and bake ovens are among his published works. He is also a closeted poet.

Patrick McCombe is a senior editor at Fine Homebuilding magazine. He has been testing power tools and writing about residential construction on behalf of national publications for more than 17 years. Before Fine Homebuilding, his articles appeared in the Journal of Light Construction, Professional Deck Builder, and Fine Woodworking. Host of two Fine Homebuilding podcasts, he’s frequently on the road taking photos and visiting product manufacturers.

BS* + Beer Book Club

Because the hosts of the BS* + Beer Show all love to read, we thought we would celebrate the authors in our industry by adding a book club to the show every few months. We’ll announce the book, give you a few months to get it and read it, and conclude with a BS* + Beer Show episode where we will invite the author to join us, present, and take questions.

Essential Building Science book cover

We have selected our third book: Essential Building Science: Understanding Energy and Moisture in High Performance House Design by Jacob Deva Racusin.

We hope you will pick up a copy and join the discussion on April 1, 2021.


-You can contact Kiley Jacques at [email protected]. Main photo courtesy of The Modern Craftsman podcast hosts.


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