Energy Vanguard Blog

17 Reasons I Love Working with Buildings

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Jun 29, 2015

Yesterday I had lunch with Robert Bean and Eric Griffin at the ASHRAE conference here in Atlanta. As we talked about how we got into the field of building science, I began thinking of the reasons I love doing what I do. My background is physics, and I really enjoyed teaching it when I was in academia, but I didn't really fit in there. When I discovered building science (and later blogging), I finally found my niche. Here's why:

Read More

Tags: fun, design, education, business, comfort, indoor air quality, environment & sustainability, big picture, creativity, health & safety, blogging

This Lack of Building Enclosure Design Makes Extra Work

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, May 15, 2015

Take a look at the photo below. See anything missing? If you don't see it yet, look at the big opening at the bottom right of the photo and you should be able to deduce what that room is. It's a garage. Now look at the framed wall between the garage and where I was standing when I took the picture. You see it, right?

Read More

Tags: design, air leakage

A Beautiful Solar Home in Utah Nears Net Zero Energy Use

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Mar 18, 2015

I'm writing this on St. Patrick's Day so let me tell you a wee bit about the O'Mearas. Kevin and Svetlana O'Meara live in a beautiful home in Utah that's oh-so-close to being a net zero energy home. After I wrote about how home building is like skiing two years ago, Kevin invited me out to see their home and this year I managed to do so. My wife and I visited them for two days last week and Kevin told me all about the house, including his one major regret.

Read More

Tags: ENERGY STAR, design, heating & cooling distribution, insulation, air leakage, energy code, energy conservation, comfort, windows, environment & sustainability, solar energy, water heating, ventilation, heating & cooling, green building

Does This Harvard Professor Signal Doom for Architecture?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Apr 28, 2014

It started simply enough. I got a tweet (below) directed at me with a link and a request to check it out to see if there's any "hope for architecture." So I did. I clicked the link, and what I found there was a bit jarring. My first thought was, This must be an April Fool's Day joke, right? Sadly, it appears to be real.

Read More

Tags: design

A Great Success: Classic 1970s Passive Solar Home Turned Net Zero

Posted by Allison Bailes on Thu, Mar 27, 2014

I've been in Lexington, Kentucky this week at the Midwest Residential Energy Conference. It was great! (And I played nice - I didn't mention in any of my talks that I'm a Florida Gator.) One of the many highlights for me was getting to visit Richard "Dick" Levine's 1970s passive solar house. It's not like any other house I've seen, and I've seen other passive solar houses.

Read More

Tags: design, water, environment & sustainability, creativity, solar energy, heating & cooling

The Case of the Duct That Wasn't There

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Dec 16, 2013

I saw the photo below on the Structure Tech Facebook page recently. (They're a home inspection company in Minnesota that appreciates building science.) In this case, everyone can see one of the problems. Even if you know nothing about building science, you can see it, right?

Read More

Tags: design, heating & cooling distribution, crawl space

5 Easy Steps to Understanding WUFI - Memento Style

Posted by Allison Bailes on Thu, Oct 17, 2013

If you have any involvement with the world of building science, you may have heard about something called WUFI and wondered what the heck it is. Maybe you've heard that it's a piece of software (several pieces, actually) that does hygrothermal modeling. Well, today's your lucky day because I just went through a two-day class on WUFI 1-D with Dr. Achilles Karagiozis and Mr. Mikael Salonvaara of Owens Corning, and I'll give you the shortest explanation possible of what it's all about. And I'll give it to you the way we learned about Guy Pearce's character in the movie Memento.

Read More

Tags: design, building enclosure, water

This Little Ventilation Mistake Can Lead to Comfort Problems

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Oct 9, 2013

If you're designing a ventilation system, first you have to determine how much air the house needs. You can use ASHRAE 62.2 or the new BSC-01 for that task. Then you have to decide what type of ventilation system to use: positive pressure, negative pressure, or balanced. In many green homes, the balanced system is becoming a popular choice. I've seen some installations lately, though, that are missing a key component.

Read More

Tags: HVAC, design, heating & cooling distribution, comfort, ventilation

Why Do So Many Expensive Homes Get Walmart-Class HVAC Systems?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Oct 8, 2013

The fellow standing in the home he's having built is proud. It's his dream home in Brookline, Massachusetts after all. The Wall Street Journal last week published an article about affluent home buyers getting their own jumbo construction loans to do just as Mr. Deshpande has done. Usually, they hire a home builder to build the home, but if you look at that photo, you'll see a mistake that's common even in million dollar homes.

Read More

Tags: HVAC, design, heating & cooling distribution, comfort, spray foam

Advice to Architects: Draw Those Attic Kneewall Sections Right

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Oct 7, 2013

We're working on a project, so we got a set of plans to get started. It includes the attic kneewall and vaulted ceiling section you see below.This is typical of plans that architects draw, and builders build houses this way all the time. Unfortunately, it contains several errors. Can you spot them?

Read More

Tags: design, building enclosure, insulation, attic, comfort, spray foam