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Building Science

The Tail-Wagging Labradors of RESNET

Great info, a new product, and the scoop I got at the RESNET conference

Image 1 of 4
James Brown, the hardest working man in show business and (possibly) the Godfather of blower doors, made a video about using blower doors back in the '80s. Yes — Papa's got a brand new door.
Image Credit: Anonymous
James Brown, the hardest working man in show business and (possibly) the Godfather of blower doors, made a video about using blower doors back in the '80s. Yes — Papa's got a brand new door.
Image Credit: Anonymous
Gary Nelson demonstrates the Energy Conservatory's new wifi device for their DG700 manometer at the RESNET conference.
Image Credit: Energy Vanguard
John Krigger of Saturn Resource Management at the RESNET conference.
Image Credit: Energy Vanguard
Batman vs. the Energy Avenger at the RESNET conference. A lot of interesting things happen after hours at conferences. Alcohol is often involved.
Image Credit: Energy Vanguard

Labradors? James Brown? What do either of those have to do with the RESNET conference?! Be patient, my friend. All will be revealed shortly. The 2013 conference sponsored by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) in Orlando a few weeks ago was fantastic. It and Building Science Summer Camp are my two favorite events of the year, and this year RESNET was better than ever.

First, let’s get right to James Brown. Evidently, there’s a video of him talking about blower door tests back in the mid-1980s. (The lead photo here is a screen shot from it, sent to me by an an anonymous source.)

I heard about the video from Gary Nelson and Dennis Creech at the conference. The “hardest working man in show business” was evidently the “Godfather of blower doors” for a brief period as part of some community service he was required to do. It seems that legal restrictions have kept the video under wraps all these years, but apparently one person out West has been showing it publicly. I hope we get to see it soon.

A few highlights

Gary Nelson. I already wrote about the news that Gary Nelson gave me about The Energy Conservatory’s new wifi device. (Retrotec has one available already, which I found out from Colin Genge this week. I haven’t found it on their website yet, though.) I also had a nice chat with Gary about how he got into the world of building science and blower doors. Like me, he’s got a physics background, but he’s been in this field since the ’70s. He’s one of the heroes of our industry, and I’ll write more about him and his work in a future article.

RESNET, ACCA, and IAQA. One thing that was new this year was that the RESNET conference was combined with the conferences of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) and the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA). It was great! The early numbers I heard indicated that RESNET had about 1000 attendees, and the other two totaled about 800. The trade show seemed to be about twice as big, and the combination worked very well. Let’s do it again!

John Krigger. Earlier this year I wrote about the debate between John Krigger and Paul Raymer over mechanical ventilation for homes (ASHRAE 62.2). I got a chance to talk with John at the conference — where were you, Paul? — and he’s got some interesting ideas to help the home performance industry. In short, he thinks we need to use actuarial data as a guide to setting priorities, especially when it comes to the health and safety issues.

BPI getting kicked to the curb. I found out at the very end of the conference that ACCA and 12 other organizations have written a letter to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requesting that they revoke BPI’s status as a Standards Development Organization. Whoa! This is big news. Could it be that HVAC contractors, who have ignored building science and home performance for a long time, are envious that another organization has the chutzpah to do what they haven’t? There’s a lot to this, so I’ve been doing some investigating and will write more later. What I’ve turned up so far is pretty interesting.

A cooling dehumidifier. At the trade show I found that there’s finally a dehumidifier that dumps the heat outside the house instead of inside. Designed for hot-humid climates, the Ultra-Aire SD12 from Therma-Stor is basically a split system air conditioner with a lot of latent capacity. It’s about time!

Barometric Zone Damper. Another cool product I saw at the trade show was a zone damper that makes it easier to get rid of what is one of the stupidest ideas in HVAC: the bypass duct. Instead of sending excess air back to the return side, it allows the higher static pressure that occurs when not all zones are calling for air to bleed through into the other zones.

Energy Avenger vs. Batman. Yes, this really happened! The Energy Avenger won. (Some other character calling himself the Cannibal is making noise out in the bushes but hasn’t shown his face publicly yet, preferring to post on RESNET’s Facebook page videos of the people he’s kidnapped. Maybe next year he’ll join the fun, too.)

The tail-wagging labradors

Kristof Irwin is a great friend of mine who owns Positive Energy, a rating, building science, and HVAC design business in Austin, Texas. He was one of the people I shared a condo with in Orlando, and he described the RESNET conference perfectly. He said that he could hardly take in the trade show because he spent so much time talking to friends, old and new. “We’re like a bunch of labradors wagging our tails,” he said. I felt the same way.

Later I mentioned that to another RESNETer, and he said, “Yeah, but we have a few pitbulls, too.” Touché. Still, it’s a wonderful conference.

Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard.


  1. David Meiland | | #1

    James Brown
    If I'm not mistaken, the James Brown blower door video was shown at the ACI Northwest conference in February, in one of the sessions I attended. I wasn't sure it was real.

  2. Mike Collignon | | #2

    RESNET was a phenomenal show for my organization as well. The enthusiastic reception we got towards our new software ( was better than I expected, and I had high hopes.

    We also got a chance to attend the Green Builder Media event at Innoventions at Epcot. Great networking!

    And I can attest that the Energy Avenger did indeed conquer Batman. It was an entertaining & valiant fight (with a couple of glove-related delays as well).

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