Dr. Bailes speaks regularly at conferences, training classes, and special events.
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Amy Musser has a PhD in Architectural Engineering and, like me, used to be a college professor. Her husband, Matthew Vande, is an architect with an MS in Architectural Engineering. He is also a treehugger (photo at right). Together, they founded Vandemusser Design, a firm that provides green design, certification, and consulting. They walk the talk, having designed, built, and moved into their net zero energy home in Asheville, North Carolina.
You may not realize that among his many other accomplishments, Dr. Joseph Lstiburek, the well known building scientist and Canadian firebrand, invented the Turbo Thermo-Encabulator Max. He's tried to keep this secret and you won't find anything about it on Building Science Corporation's website. I've known about it for a while, though, and I was perfectly content to keep it a secret...until last week.
In the world of building construction, improvement, and analysis, we talk about R-value all the time. Generally we talk about it as if it's a constant number. Hey, R-19 is stamped right there on the product, so that's what it is, right? Well, maybe. Sometimes.
One of the fundamental principles of building science is that buildings must be suited to their climate. When they're not, problems can ensue. Maybe it's just that they're not as efficient as they should be. Maybe it's worse. Put plastic between the drywall and framing of your exterior walls in Ottawa, and it can help control vapor drive from the interior air and its associated moisture problems (rare in all but except in extremely cold climates). Put that plastic in the same place in Georgia, and you're going to rot the walls.
The tragedy of this is that in the effort to sell Advanced Framing as a whole package, presenting it as an alternative to Western Platform Framing, the sensible housing industry has thrown out the very easy and productive suggestions from the first list along with the bathwater that is the ill-conceived proposal of the grid dependent single top plate. By putting these all together and regarding this as a whole package, we are all complicit in the marginalization of what could be some very useful practices to increase efficiency in framing.
A few weeks ago Allison made a couple of quips that could be construed as critical of Advanced Framing methods, also often referred to optimistically as Optimum Value Engineering (OVE). I myself am generally critical of Advanced Framing, so perhaps I was just reading into Allison's comments what I wanted to hear. So I messaged him "You ought to do a whole article expanding on the criticism of Advanced Framing," and he replied "Ok, you ought to write it for me." So here I am.
The ENERGY STAR New Homes program deserves much of the credit for bringing high performance to the mass market. Aside from a widely recognized and respected brand, ENERGY STAR accomplished that which previously eluded industry pioneers: it created a uniform verification and certification procedure that could be replicated on a mass scale at a reasonable cost.
Probably the biggest news I heard at the 2013 RESNET conference this year was that the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) and 12 other organizations had asked the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to have the Building Performance Institute's (BPI) accreditation as a Standards Development Organization (SDO) revoked. Really!
Aaaarrrrrrrrggh! Do you know how frustrating it is to do those things on your list (or on the honey-do list) and then have to redo them? When I replace a light fixture or a switch, I like to think that it's going to be about as permanent as anything can be in this world. Sadly, that's not the case anymore because nearly everything now, or so it seems, is cheap crap made in China.
I just returned from Arizona, where I spoke at the Structural Insulated Panel Association’s annual conference. Since it was in Tucson, I also took the opportunity to visit with my friend David Butler. He’s an amazing source of knowledge in the field of building science, especially concerning mechanical systems, and our conversation got me to thinking about learning curves. His story is quite interesting and not so different from mine in some ways. Perhaps the advice at the end of this article, based on what David and I went through (independently) over a decade ago, will help you as you embark on your own building science learning curve.
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