Energy Vanguard Blog

3 Cool Products I Saw at the Passive House Conference in NYC

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Jul 22, 2016

Last month I attended the conference of the North American Passive House Network in New York City. They had a really nice trade show, and I got to spend some time talking to the vendors. It's always nice to see what's going at these events because I'm starting to come around to Joe Lstiburek's way of thinking. At the 2013 Building Science Summer Camp, he said, "Passive House is the only place where real innovation is happening."

Read More

Tags: conferences, ventilation

The 2018 Building Code Makes a Change in Ventilation

Posted by Allison Bailes on Thu, Jul 21, 2016

Ah, ventilation. One of the easier topics in building science. Everyone agrees: We need airtight houses. Airtight houses need mechanical ventilation. Build tight. Ventilate right. No problem! We're all on board. There's nothing to disagree about. Right?

Read More

Tags: indoor air quality, ventilation

How I Achieved a 21% Increase in Airtightness

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Jul 18, 2016

I've got a record of 14 blower door tests on my condo. Many of them were during home energy rater classes, as we'd bring them here for the confirmed rating they needed to complete. The early ones were horrible! But I had a good reason. Our laundry room ceiling was half gone because of a water leak. (Thanks, upstairs neighbors!) After that we had a bunch that were still bad. Now we've had another big jump in airtightness. Wanna see the numbers?

Read More

Tags: fun, air leakage

How Much Insulation Do You Need in a Passive House?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Jul 15, 2016

Passive house has a reputation for requiring ungodly amounts of insulation. It grew out of the superinsulation movement after all. If you're familiar with any passive house projects, you may be thinking about double-stud walls that are a foot thick or regular walls with 6 to 12 inches of rigid insulation on the outside. But how much insulation can you use and still meet the requirements of the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS)?

Read More

Tags: environment & sustainability, heating & cooling

Is Global Energy Use Getting Better?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Thu, Jul 14, 2016

Every day, I get updates on various energy data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Earlier this week I got one showing the graph below, indicating that energy intensity for the whole world is going down. That's a good thing, so I posted it to my social media networks. It means we're extracting more economic output from each unit of energy that we use. That's only one small part of the whole picture of energy use, however, and someone who saw my post responded with another part.

Read More

Tags: environment & sustainability, big picture, solar energy

The Great Ventilation Battle Shifts to RESNET

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Jul 5, 2016

Just because I haven't written about the jockeying over ventilation rates and strategies with the ASHRAE 62.2 committee doesn't mean nothing's going on. If you've been following the battle over this issue, you know that Joe Lstiburek, PhD, PE, got fed up with ASHRAE and introduced his own ventilation "standard" in 2013. Then the "Great Ventilation Debate" happened in Detroit, and he got back on the ASHRAE 62.2 committee. Stuff happened and now RESNET just put an interesting amendment out for public comment. Follow that?

Read More

Tags: indoor air quality, ventilation

The Evolution of Passive House in North America

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Jul 1, 2016

In 2002, Katrin Klingenberg introduced the passivhaus program to North America when she built the Smith House in Urbana, Illinois. She had come to the US from Germany, where she studied architecture and got involved with passivhaus. But is this really where it all began?

Read More

Tags: design, comfort, environment & sustainability

MAD AIR:  Duct Systems, Infiltration, & Their Interactions

Posted by Allison Bailes on Thu, Jun 30, 2016

A lot of discoveries and research work over the past four decades have led to our current understanding of air leakage in buildings. I’ll mention a few here, but I want to focus on one: the MAD AIR paper by John Tooley and Neil Moyer. The full title of the paper was, Mechanical Air Distribution And Interacting Relationships. The first letters of those words spell out MAD AIR.

Read More

Tags: heating & cooling distribution, air leakage, comfort, indoor air quality

Daniel Boone's Dew Point Problem

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

In Missouri for the ASHRAE conference, I took some time to visit with my Cajun baby sister the other day. As we were making our way to one of the local wineries outside of St. Louis, we saw a sign for Daniel Boone's house. Now who can resist that? So we took the short detour and spent a few minutes there. (Yes, minutes. There was wine at the wineries after all.) And here's what I saw there.

Read More

Tags: moisture problems, heating & cooling

Signs of a Bad Duct Installation

Posted by Allison Bailes on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

Last month while I was in Austin, homebuilder extraordinaire Matt Risinger gave me a tour of some of his projects. Afterward I wrote about something I saw on his new home construction site that was a sign of a good duct installer. Today I bring you a few photos that are signs of a bad duct installation. A homeowner in Atlanta was getting a home energy upgrade, and one part of it was getting a whole new duct system installed. We got called in afterward and here's what we found.

Read More

Tags: heating & cooling distribution