Energy Efficiency and Building Science News

Tornados Wreck Havoc in Mid-US, Blame?

Mon, 2019-06-03 10:26
Housing & Construction

Tornado damage in Jefferson City, Mo. as seen on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Photo by David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In the past few weeks, weather systems throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio have had a significant impact on the built environment. As is well known, tornados cause severe stress on buildings where the high localized wind loading conditions find the weak point of the structure quickly. This usually is at the location of a wood nail or anchor bolt connection or in our testing experience a knot or slope of grain deviation in a tension lumber member. An interesting point is that most studs in wall systems are meant to see compression forces not tension, which also may be a structural weak point.

As the pictures attest, finding the key building material weak point that caused the structural performance to be a debris field is challenging, if not impossible, to do.

Questions that need to be sincerely addressed follow, which include but are certainly not limited to:

  1. Was the building built to code?
  2. If not, what were the as-built conditions?
  3. Which aspects of the structure were built to code?
  4. Which were not?
  5. What is the cause/effect analysis for each code compliant and each non-code compliant condition?

Tornado damage in Jefferson City, Mo. as seen on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Photo by David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Is there any possibility of benchmarking building performance? For example:

  1. Does one building built identically to another perform differently?
  2. Why did it perform differently?
  3. Different weather conditions?
  4. Different methods of connections?
  5. Different building orientation?
  6. Different window and door conditions?
  7. Are there two similar houses in the wind zone to study, one that has performed well and another less well? This makes professional analysis much easier where one can isolate the “why did this happen” questions and begin to develop potential remedies.

It is obvious that proper construction implementation is key to satisfactory building material performance. Paying close attention to all connecting systems that make up the load path is essential.

The most important outcomes of poor building performance in a high wind or seismic event are that no one gets hurt; the construction industry continues to learn and evolve; and design and installation best practices improve.

Tornado damage in Jefferson City, Mo. as seen on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Photo by David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The entire construction industry can greatly benefit by staying focused on providing framer-friendly details that are easy to understand and implement. It’s critical that we come together with the goal of fostering innovation, using accepted engineering practice, creating installation best practices, working closely with professional framers and assisting building departments to focus inspections on key load path elements. We all are educators. By working together, we will significantly improve the built environment.   

The following drone footage, captured May 23, shows the stark aftermath of a tornado that hit Jefferson County, MO. 

For additional information on the performance of wood structural panels, please visit the following webpage on OSB as a Raw Material and the following articles on performance of building materials in high winds and as tested.


Johns Manville Names John Vasuta as New President of Engineered Products Business

Wed, 2019-05-22 14:53
Press Releases

Johns Manville (JM), a leading manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality building and specialty products and a Berkshire Hathaway company, announced John Vasuta is the new President of the company’s Engineered Products business.

“John is an accomplished leader and a welcome addition to JM’s leadership team,” said Mary Rhinehart, JM’s President and CEO. “He brings to JM a proven track record of successfully growing businesses and global commercial leadership.”

Vasuta will lead a global business that manufactures premium-quality glass fiber nonwovens, polyester spunbonds and glass fibers for the building and construction industry, as well as for automotive, industrial and residential applications.

JM products cover an extensive range of applications such as waterproofing membranes, flooring, building and technical insulation, air and liquid filtration, energy storage, composites and gypsum boards. The business operates manufacturing plants in the United States, Germany, Slovakia and China.

“Johns Manville is built on a rich history and has a well-earned reputation as a global market leader,” Vasuta said. “I am excited to join the company and to lead the Engineered Products business.”

Vasuta most recently worked at Bridgestone Corp. as President and Managing Director, Firestone Building Products International as well as Global Senior Vice President, Firestone Building Products. He joined Bridgestone as Deputy General Counsel and later held a variety of executive-level jobs, including President of Bridgestone’s 250 commercial store division and VP of International Sales and Operations for building products.

He worked earlier in his career in private law practices and the semi-conductor industry.

Vasuta earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering, an MBA and a Juris Doctorate, all from the University of Akron.


Firestone Building Products Opens Insulation Facility in Germany

Wed, 2019-05-22 14:47
Press Releases

Firestone Building Products Company, LLC (Firestone), a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas and an industry leading global manufacturer of commercial roofing and building solutions, announced today the opening of its first greenfield plant in Heinsberg, Germany. The facility, which broke ground in March 2017, employs a workforce of approximately twenty and is located in the Dremmen District of Heinsberg, Germany.

The new facility represents an opportunity to supplement Firestone insulation production in North America in order to meet growing demand for complete roofing solutions in a global market. Firestone currently operates fifteen manufacturing plants worldwide and sells approximately 90 million square meters of insulation materials per year all over the world.

"Investing in global production capabilities allows us to better serve our customers in key locations around the world," said Philip Moors, managing director of Europe and Asia for Firestone. "Demand for building products continues to grow in Germany and throughout Europe, and we look forward to partnering with our customers in the local market and beyond to provide industry-leading roofing solutions."

The facility's location in Germany now allows contractors to purchase Firestone RESISTA insulation that can be used in conjunction with EPDM and TPO membranes to install a complete Firestone roofing system in every Firestone market in Europe. The production and sales of Firestone polyiso (PIR) insulation boards started first week of May.

"We couldn't have hoped for a better outcome," said Wolfgang Dieder, the mayor of Heinsberg, "The establishment of a production facility that manufactures high performance insulation materials is a big win for our town. We're thrilled that 'Made in Heinsberg' Firestone products are soon to be used all over Europe. Our collaboration with all of those responsible at Firestone was perfect from day one."

Panattoni Europe, a leading project developer specializing in industrial and logistics-related real estate, was responsible for the planning and implementation of the project. Goldbeck International acted as the prime contractor during construction.


Ox Details How Integrated Sheathing Increases Cycle Times

Wed, 2019-05-22 14:38
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

One less trip around the house.

What would it mean to cut an entire step out of exterior wall construction? A full day saved? Two days? More?

Cutting project timelines is critical to sales and profitability. Multiply the effect of fewer construction days across all projects in your 2019 pipeline. You may be talking weeks, even months of cumulative production savings.

A new class of one-and-done insulated structural sheathing that complies with the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC Table R402.1.2 – Insulation and Fenestration Requirements By Component) now helps home builders close projects with unprecedented speed.

New Normal

Complying with the code’s moisture/vapor, air, and continuous insulation requirements makes for a tighter, higher-performing building envelope. But asking framers to make multiple passes around the house may not be the best use of their time, especially when alternative methods have been proven in tens of thousands of U.S. homes.

Charlie Devine of Afton, Minn. has closely observed the slow but determined transition to a more streamlined home building workflow. “You’re seeing many within the building supply chain adapt to a new normal. We can cut construction time by two or three days in many cases,” says the national accounts and energy advisor to OX Engineered Products.

Surprise Benefits

Devine understands why some balk at a one-and-done approach. Structural insulation costs more. However, the extra investment quickly fades when weighed against a traditional multi-pass approach. “When you examine the dollars, structural insulation is the better buy. See for yourself. Run your own numbers. The financial benefits are substantial,” he says.

There are also less-publicized benefits home builders can overlook. Take material weight. “We manufacture a structural insulation product called OX-IS. OX-IS is about 1/3 the weight of OSB. That translates into about 2-1/2 less tons of house weight. Less weight could mean a happier, more productive staff,” Devine explains.

The insulation side is similarly intriguing. “Exposed studs and headers are thermal bridges that undermine HVAC efficiency and owner comfort. Continuous insulation pays for itself from day one by sealing-off thermal bridges,” explains Devine.

Nearly 500 Homes a Week
Skeptics may wonder how a lightweight, all-in-one structural insulation panel can address so many exterior wall performance issues. “OX-IS structural insulation was used on tens of thousands of houses last year alone. Structural insulation has been around for more than 50 years,” adds Devine.

For an industry eager to meet aggressive project timelines, it’s good to know there are proven sheathing alternatives that help streamline workflows. To learn more about all-in-one sheathing alternatives, visit


Demilec Spray Foam Adds Resilient Construction Classification

Wed, 2019-05-22 14:31
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

As storms continue to ravage coastal areas, communities are looking to build with stronger, more advanced materials designed to better withstand extreme weather events. Closed-cell spray foam insulation is the most efficient, cost-effective material available and meets all building code and national flood insurance requirements. The Demilec Heatlok Series Closed-Cell Spray Foam offers the newest technology advancements in medium-density, compact installations with products proven to be air, vapor, and water barrier resistant. The complete Demilec product portfolio offers commercial design professionals and construction companies (commercial and residential) innovative solutions with trusted results.

“We understand the devastation many coastal communities face and the amount of information and regulations that need to be addressed during building efforts can be overwhelming,” said Tom Harris, Vice President of Demilec Building Science. “At Demilec, we want to help ease that burden by offering innovative and effective solutions that will protect these areas for years to come. Closed-cell spray foam is just one of our products proven to help improve structural integrity and resistance to floodwater damage.” 

In addition to being named a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Class 5 building material, the Demilec Heatlok Series of closed-cell spray foam products are engineered to be eco-conscious, offer expedient installation options, as well as downstream energy return on investment. 

“We want to encourage the use of closed-cell spray foam products and help educate industry professionals on the long-term benefits of using NFIP Class 5 building materials,” Harris said. “Modern building technologies and products are constantly evolving, along with government and city regulations, which is why it’s very important to partner with trusted manufactures willing to guarantee their products. We have the scientific research and industry expertise to stand behind every product we make.”

Construction industry professionals and consumers will benefit from remarkable energy savings because these products seal all areas where they are installed, creating both air and moisture barriers. Users will see a decrease in outside pollutants such as dust and allergens and outside noise disturbances. Closed-cell spray foam insulation can be used in new building projects, as well as retrofitted into existing structures. The Demilec Building Science Group closely monitors Department of Energy and NFIP requirements to ensure that products meet the highest possible standards. This allows construction partners and design professionals to install and specify Demilec closed-cell spray foam products with confidence.

Industry professionals, business owners and home owners can learn more about the benefits of closed-cell spray foam and the Demilec product guarantee by visiting connecting with Demilec through social channels.


Kingspan Insulated Panels Added to Leading Spec Software

Wed, 2019-05-22 14:27

Kingspan Insulated Panels announced that several of its products are now available in the Building Systems Design (BSD) SpecLink-E platform, one of the industry leaders in the spec-writing software field. SpecLink-E is the most advanced master guide specification software to improve efficiency, accuracy and collaboration – and now, users can integrate Kingspan insulated metal panels.

BSD SpecLink-E’s innovative tools allow businesses to synchronize their specs and BIM models, collaborate more efficiently with cloud technology, and quickly produce cost estimates. It allows users to create specs up to 70% faster.

Kingspan panels will now be integrated directly into 11,000+ design professionals’ office masters for inclusion in projects across the nation.

The following Kingspan products are now available on BSD SpecLink-E: KS Series, Optimo, KarrierPanel Barrier Wall, KS Series Granitstone, MF Fire Rated, MF QT Acoustical, BENCHMARK Designwall 2000, BENCHMARK Designwall 4000, KingSeam and KingRib.

Kingspan places a premium on building construction technology innovation. Last year, the company introduced QuadCore Technology, its most technologically-advanced metal panel insulation backed by an industry-first 30-year thermal warranty. Kingspan and QuadCore Technology were both honored in the 2018 Architectural Products Product Innovation Awards for innovation in the built environment.


Knauff Insulation Names Parrish as New CEO

Wed, 2019-05-22 14:24

Knauf Insulation, Inc. (KINA), a leading manufacturer of glass mineral wool insulation, announced today that industry veteran Matthew Parrish has been named chief executive officer (CEO) of the company.

Parrish’s elevation to the position of president and CEO is part of a broader reshaping of the Knauf Group global leadership teams following the company’s recent merger with USG Corporation. He replaces Christopher Griffin, who was recently named CEO of USG Corporation. The two companies are going to continue to operate as separate entities.

“Matt is a dynamic, progressive leader with deep management expertise and a track record of delivering measurable results in our industry,” said Manfred Grundke, general partner of Knauf Group. “We have full confidence he will thrive in this new role while continuing the focus on developing and engaging the Knauf team to effectively execute the strategy that was set in motion under previous leadership.”

“Matt’s demonstrated ability to drive sustainable growth will continue to help Knauf lead the industry,” said Griffin, who served as CEO of KINA for three years and originally hired Parrish in June 2017.

Parrish joined KINA as vice president of Residential and Light Commercial Sales and has significant expertise in commercial excellence, product management, cross-functional diversification and talent development. With the industry changing at breakneck speed, Parrish is ready to hit the ground running.

“The norms of yesterday are not the norms of today,” Parrish said. “Customers are expecting more, and we need to recognize that and deliver. I’m convinced we have the right people to handle the ever-changing dynamics of our customers and our industry. And we have a winning strategy in place. We need to stay laser-focused on that strategy while being nimble and agile in our execution.”

Parrish has over 29 years of experience in the building materials industry with primary focuses in the disciplines of insulation and cement. He grew up just outside the Kansas City area in Missouri and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

“I look forward to bringing my cross-functional leadership style into this new role and carrying out the strategy set forth by my predecessor,” Parrish said. “KINA is and will continue to be a leader in sustainable thermal and acoustical glass mineral wool insulation.”

For additional information, please read the following articles:


6 Energy Efficiency Recommendations from the NYC Urban Green Council

Wed, 2019-05-22 14:10
Energy Efficiency

Building owners and equipment suppliers don’t always use the same vocabulary when discussing engineering projects, and this results in missed opportunities to improve energy efficiency. According to the NYC Urban Green Council, building owners often have their problem areas identified, but are unaware of the existing solutions. As a result, technology suppliers conclude that demand for energy-efficient products is low or nonexistent. Improved communication between both parties could bring many innovative projects in NYC.

To help solve this issue, the Urban Green Council carried out a study of the energy efficiency market in NYC. They identified six types of building upgrades that could have a high demand, but where few projects are materialized due to miscommunication between users and suppliers.




Packaged condensing boiler

Combined space heating and hot water


Split-type heat pumps

Upgrading packaged terminal air conditioners


High-efficiency modular space cooling

Retail and commercial spaces


Insulated wrap

Slab edges and balconies


Low-conductivity shelf angles

Masonry walls


Advanced curtain wall with unitized assembly

New constructions


Note that the savings values provided above are percentages of total building consumption, not just the building system being upgraded.

1) Packaged Condensing Boilers for Combined Space Heating and Hot Water

A packaged unit combining space heating and domestic hot water would be very attractive for NYC property owners, according to the Urban Green Council. In simple terms, exhaust heat from the space heating boiler is recovered for the domestic hot water (DHW) system, reducing total consumption.

The concept is viable with conventional condensing boilers, but installation is very complex because a heat exchanger is required. If equipment suppliers offered an integrated solution, the installation would be simplified greatly. This also reduces the number of man-hours required, making the project faster and more affordable.

2) Split-Type Heat Pumps Designed to Replace PTACs

Packaged terminal air conditioners (PTAC) are often chosen in NYC buildings for their ease of installation and lower upfront cost that other AC systems. However, their long term ownership cost is very high:

  1. PTACs interrupt the building envelope, increasing summer heat gain and winter heat loss.
  2. They also have a low efficiency themselves.

Split-type air-source heat pumps could be designed to fit into the same spaces as PTACs, while adding improved insulation and air tightness. Ventilation can be built-in as well, achieving a complete HVAC solution that is easy to retrofit.

3) High-Efficiency and Modular Air Conditioners

Commercial spaces tend to have very different operating schedules, and deploying a central chiller plant is impractical in many cases. Direct expansion units are more common for this reason, but they come with a lower efficiency.

Compressor designs for chillers have achieved impressive efficiency, but the concept is rarely deployed at the smaller scale of commercial spaces (typically below 20 tons). Modular systems with newer compressor models would achieve savings of around 30% according to the Urban Green Council.

4) Insulated Wrap for Balconies and Floor Slabs

Heat loss occurs through balconies and floor slabs, since they cause an interruption in the building envelope. The negative effect of one slab is small, but it becomes significant when you consider an entire building.

This issue can be solved by applying insulated wrap around the edges of balconies and slabs. In addition, this is a versatile solution that works in both new constructions and existing buildings.

5) Low-Conductivity Shelf Angles for Masonry Walls

Shelf angles are the structural elements that attach masonry walls to the main building structure. However, conventional shelf angles are highly conductive because they are made of steel, contributing to unwanted heat transfer across the building envelope. Newer composite materials can accomplish the same function without the heat loss, as long as they offer the same structural and fire resistance properties of conventional shelf angles.

6) Advanced Curtain Walls

Curtain walls are common in newer NYC buildings, but their envelope performance is very poor. In many cases, simple brick and mortar walls provide better insulation. Buildings with curtain walls often have efficient mechanical and electrical systems, but optimal performance is not achieved because of the poor thermal envelope.

High-performance curtain walls are already standardized and widely used in other parts of the world, such as Europe, but the concept has been slow to enter the US market. These versions of curtain walls have integrated insulation measures, achieving synergy with efficient space heating and cooling systems.


There are many untapped opportunities for energy efficiency measures in NYC, but miscommunication between suppliers and property owners hold them back. Getting an energy audit from a qualified engineering company is highly recommended to identify the best upgrades for your property.


Improving Envelope Performance in Existing Properties

Wed, 2019-05-22 13:58
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

If a property owner is considering an upgrade to improve energy efficiency, a building envelope inspection is recommended first.

Designing a building with an efficient envelope from the start is the optimal solution, but the business case is often favorable for upgrades in existing properties. However, before proceeding with any building upgrade, the recommended first step is identifying deficiencies in the existing envelope.

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For additional information, please read the following articles:


Why Polyurethane Foam is an Excellent Roofing Material

Wed, 2019-05-15 16:02
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Society’s movement towards sustainability has impacted the roofing industry significantly. The intent of the sustainability movement is to encourage use and development of environmentally-friendly options. In the roofing area, this is achieved by installation of products providing long-term service with renewability options and cost-effective service. As regulation increases, manufacturers are moving more towards “green” focused products. These products are durable, environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

Polyurethane Foam

For flat roofs, spray polyurethane foam is an excellent option to consider. It consists of two components (resin and polyisocyanurate) joined together with heat and pressure, which react to rise and form a solid surface. Foam has a number of distinct advantages. It is an insulating material, serves as soundproofing, adds rigidity to a structure, is lightweight and very durable. Foam has been used in roofing applications since the 1960s.

Since it is a seamless product, maintenance is fairly simple. A utility knife and a tube of caulk will serve to address most issues that might arise with a foam roof.

Polyurethane foam has one distinct disadvantage—it will break down over time when exposed to the sun. This is overcome by coating the roof with an elastomeric acrylic, silicone or polyurea, all of which block ultraviolet rays from getting at the foam. The coatings can be used to add a variety of colors to the roof system, although the lighter colors tend to add the most to the insulating value of the roof system.

Polyurethane foam can be installed to any thickness in a series of passes called “lifts.” This puts insulation on the outside of the building, blocking heat or cold from passing through to the structure beneath, and vice-versa. No other roofing material has the combination of strength, formability, seamlessness and insulating value provided by spray polyurethane foam.

As society becomes more environmentally-conscious, architects and developers are converting to more “green” products for construction purposes. For more information about “green” roofing materials, be sure to reach out to your local roofing expert.


Plant-Based Thermal Material to Rival Styrofoam?

Wed, 2019-05-15 15:38
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Washington State University researchers have developed an environmentally-friendly, plant-based material that for the first time works better than Styrofoam for insulation.

An environmentally-friendly, plant-based material that for the first time works better than Styrofoam for insulation. (Photo : WSU)

The foam is mostly made from nanocrystals of cellulose, the most abundant plant material on earth. The researchers also developed an environmentally friendly and simple manufacturing process to make the foam, using water as a solvent instead of other harmful solvents.

The work, led by Amir Ameli, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and Xiao Zhang, associate professor in the Gene and Linda School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, is published in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers.

Researchers have been working to develop an environmentally friendly replacement for polystyrene foam, or Styrofoam. The popular material, made from petroleum, is used in everything from coffee cups to materials for building and construction, transportation, and packaging industries. But, it is made from toxic ingredients, depends on petroleum, doesn't degrade naturally, and creates pollution when it burns.

While other researchers have created other cellulose-based foams, the plant-based versions haven't performed as well as Styrofoam. They are not as strong, don't insulate as well, and degraded at higher temperatures and in humidity. To make cellulose nanocrystals, researchers use acid hydrolysis, in which acid is used to cleave chemical bonds.

In their work, the WSU team created a material that is made of about 75 percent cellulose nanocrystals from wood pulp. They added polyvinyl alcohol, another polymer that bonds with the nanocellulose crystals and makes the resultant foams more elastic. The material that they created contains a uniform cellular structure that means it is a good insulator. For the first time, the researchers report, the plant-based material surpassed the insulation capabilities of Styrofoam. It is also very lightweight and can support up to 200 times its weight without changing shape. It degrades well, and burning it doesn't produce polluting ash.

"We have used an easy method to make high-performance, composite foams based on nanocrystalline cellulose with an excellent combination of thermal insulation capability and mechanical properties," Ameli said. "Our results demonstrate the potential of renewable materials, such as nanocellulose, for high-performance thermal insulation materials that can contribute to energy savings, less usage of petroleum-based materials, and reduction of adverse environmental impacts."

"This is a fundamental demonstration of the potential of nanocrystalline cellulose as an important industrial material," Zhang said. "This promising material has many desirable properties, and to be able to transfer these properties to a bulk scale for the first time through this engineered approach is very exciting."

The researchers are now developing formulations for stronger and more durable materials for practical applications. They are interested in incorporating low-cost feedstocks to make a commercially viable product and considering how to move from laboratory to a real-world manufacturing scale.


Video: Better Wall Insulation with ‘Advanced Framing’

Wed, 2019-05-15 15:31
Building ScienceEnergy EfficiencyAdvanced Framing and Advantech Subfloor

Did you know that 3/4" Advantech subfloor panel isn't supported once framing members are further apart than 19.8"? 


2018 IgCC Vast Improvement for Energy Efficiency

Wed, 2019-05-15 15:19
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

It has been nearly half a decade since the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the International Code Council (ICC); the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES); and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) signed a Moratorium of Understanding to better align green building goals through ANSI/ASHRAE/ICC/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), and the LEED certification system.

For years, these groups had been working on their owner green building standards and frameworks. That started to change in 2009, when USGBC, ASHRAE, and IES teamed up to released Standard 189.1: Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings, Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. It marked a momentous step forward, as the standard established minimum requirements for the siting, design, construction, and plans for operation of high-performance green buildings. Though loosely modeled around the categorical framework of LEED, Standard 189.1 provided the industry with a true model standard for green building rather than to some sort of guideline or volunteer rating system. Though many municipalities across the U.S. have local ordinances requiring LEED, Standard 189.1 offered a document more conducive to amendment and adoption as code for a wider range of jurisdictions.

However, by 2012 the ICC released its first edition of the IgCC, which was similar in breadth and scope to Standard 189.1, but harmonized with the organization's widely utilized international model codes (i.e., the "I-Codes"). Recognizing the duality in the marketplace, and to help circumvent potential regulatory complications, the 2012 (and the subsequent 2015) version of the IgCC included Standard 189.1 as a project compliance option.

A bit confusing, yes; and the duality (and seeming competition) of Standard 189.1 and IgCC was compounded by pre-existing LEED mandates in various cities. This was the impetus for the August 2014 Memorandum of Understanding. As a result in 2015, ICC was added as an additional cosponsor of the 2017 edition of Standard 198.1, which served as the technical content of the 2018 IgCC.

At last, we're seeing the fruits of the ICC/ASHRAE/USGBC strategic alignment

At a moment when LEED is pivoting toward an increasingly more stringent certification model based on an integration of strategies and measured performance (utilizing the emerging arc platform), the 2018 IgCC is poised to fill the necessary role of setting a minimum standard for energy and environmental design.

This is why the IgCC is important. In the spirit of the acronym, LEED will continue to lead. For cities and institutions struggling with LEED mandates, the 2018 IgCC may be considered. For a jurisdiction looking for a model standard from which to codify green building, The 2018 IgCC may be more appropriate than a volunteer rating system.

The 2018 IgCC is the first fully integrated edition of the IgCC to be developed cooperatively by ICC and ASHRAE. It retains the general LEED-like structure of Standard 189.1 That is intentional. USGBC’s fingerprints are all over Standard 189.1 and subsequently the IgCC. This is part of a broader effort toward transforming the building design and construction industry.

As traditional codes evolve to include sustainability measures, green building codes such as IgCC will compliment and expand on the traditional codes to set holistic and rigorous minimum standards for green building with clear and specific requirements including provisions that provide safe and substantial construction in a manner that is harmonized with LEED. As this aggregate of codes set minimum standards, LEED as a volunteer third-party certification systems will provide a pathway to help projects exceed the minimum requirements and provide opportunities for leadership through high-performance design and construction. This past November at Greeenbuild, two months after the release of the 2018 IgCC, USGBC raised the bar beyond Platinum certification by launching LEED Zero, a complement to LEED that verifies the achievement of net zero goals through measured data regarding carbon emission, (source) energy, (potable) water, and waste (via TRUE Zero Waste certification).

Market transformation will require an increasingly positive environmental impact by our building projects. Traditional building codes and model green building codes must continue to advance and integrate over time as LEED and other rating systems ratchet up in stringency and become more sophisticated. Illustration courtesy of USGBC. Click to enlarge.

Let's be clear: 2018 IgCC is not LEED-Lite

As the advancements of LEED shift it toward ongoing measured performance, the 2018 IgCC signals the future manifestation of what our industry has always understood as a prescriptive "credit-driven" process to realize a green building project. But from this point forward, such a system will persist as an evolving model building code with normative language that lends itself to enforcement. The 2018 IgCC is not a watered-down concession to LEED. The 2018 IgCC is quite stringent in many regards. If adopted without amendment,  it would codify:

  • Rainwater management provisions requiring infiltration, evapotranspiration, rainwater harvesting, collection and use.
  • Water consumption measurement devices with remote capability.
  • Envelope and mechanical requirements beyond the minimums set forth by ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2016.
  • Mandatory provisions governing acoustical control for the building envelope, interior spaces and the design of the mechanical systems.
  • A total construction waste threshold of 42 cubic yards or 12,000 pounds, per 10,000 square-feet of floor area for new building projects.
  • Specific requirements for building functional performance testing, a building project commissioning process, and measurement and verification.
  • A limited degree of provisions with regard to building project programming, equipment purchasing, facility operation and maintenance policy, and staff training requirements.

The message from the green building design and construction community is clear: we are united and the future of green building will rest on robust, comprehensive standards that will require project teams and owners alike to take a more vested role in the design, construction, operations, and maintenance of our built environment.


Analyzing the Significant Impacts of Water Infiltration

Wed, 2019-05-15 15:04
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The ways in which liquid and vapor move through our building envelopes are complex, and even today not completely understood; but the fact that lots of water can (and does) move through porous building materials is a phenomenon that rules over so much of the way we build.

Click to enlarge.

Two major modes of moisture travel—gravity and capillary action—are related to bulk water management, which is essential to the longevity of any building envelope assembly consisting of porous materials.

Two other major modes address how water vapor can work its way through a building envelope assembly. Managing vapor drive is a critical damage function of a building envelope assembly. Building science professionals, designers, and engineers have long debased solutions for managing how vapor may diffuse through an assembly and pose a condensation risk. The bottom line with regard to diffusion is to understand seasonal vapor drive and afford an assembly the opportunity dry. Trapping moisture in an assembly may lead to major problems.

Air infiltration poses a greater condensation risk than diffusion—and it's not even close. 

Figure: Quantity of water transmitted through a sheet of gypsum board during a heating season in a cold climate via vapor diffusion and air leakage through a 1-square-inch hole. This figure is adapted from an illustration created by Building Science Corporation. Click to enlarge.

Project teams will pore over issues related to permeance, condensation risks, and strategic placements of vapor retarders in hopes of managing vapor-related moisture issues. However, controlling the flow of air infiltration is far more important than controlling vapor diffusion.

According to a classic analysis by Building Science Corporation, as offered in their Builder's Guide for Cold Climates, during a the heating season in a cold climate region, vapor diffusion through a solid a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of gypsum board may result in about 0.3 L (1/3 quart) of water being transmitted to the interior. By comparison, the air leakage through a 1-square-inch hole in the middle of the gypsum board over the same period of time may result in approximately 28.4 L (30 quarts) of water being transmitted to the interior—90 times more water than through diffusion.

Infiltration can account for over half of the annual heat exchange through a poorly sealed building envelope; and with that air potentially comes a great amount of vapor. A leaky envelope can undermine even the most optimized vapor diffusion strategy. This underscore the critical need for tight building envelopes as standard practice.


ASTM Seeks Thermal Insulation Resiliency Research

Wed, 2019-05-15 14:43
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Dates: Wednesday October 28 2020 - Thursday October 29 2020

Location: Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld Orlando, FL

Sponsored by: C16 Thermal Insulation

Deadline for Abstract Submittal: Friday June 07 2019

About the Event

Papers are invited for a Symposium on Performance, Properties and Resiliency of Thermal Insulations to be held Wednesday and Thursday, October 28 & 29, 2020. Sponsored by ASTM Committees C16 on Thermal Insulation and E06 on Performance of Buildings, this symposium will be held at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld in Orlando, FL, in conjunction with the October standards development meetings of the committee.

The objective of this symposium is to present and discuss current research on physical and chemical properties of thermal insulation materials and assemblies, with special attention to resiliency and durability.

Possible topics include:

  1. Resiliency and Durability of Thermal Insulations
    • Building Applications
    • Industrial Applications
    • Extreme Conditions and Events
  2. Physical Property Data and Test Methods for Conventional and Advanced Insulations
    • Hybrid Systems (PCM related, Cellular plastics, Aerogels and nano-scale material, Reflective materials)
    • Vacuum insulations
    • Pipe Insulation (above ambient temperature)
  3. Appliances, Transport, and Shipping
    • Refrigeration (residential, commercial, and industrial)
    • Transportation
    • Packaging
  4. Low-Temperature Applications Requiring Moisture Control
    • Refrigeration
    • Cryogenic
    • Chilled Water
    • Special applications
  5. In-situ Performance
    • Case studies-energy savings
    • In-situ measurement techniques

The language of the symposium will be English.

Abstract Submittal

To participate in the symposium, authors must submit a 300-word preliminary abstract using the online Abstract Submittal Form no later than June 7, 2019. To ensure your abstract was received into the ASTM database, please email to inform us that you have submitted an abstract.

The abstract must include a clear definition of the objective and approach of the work discussed, pointing out material that is new, and present sufficient details regarding results. The presentation and manuscript must not be of a commercial nature nor can it have been previously published. Because a limited number of abstracts will be accepted, be sure that the abstract is complete to allow for careful assessment of the paper's suitability for this symposium. Symposium Chairman Diana Fisler and Co-chair Marcin Pazera will notify you via email and postal mail by July 5, 2019 of your paper’s acceptability for presentation at the symposium. If the preliminary abstract is accepted, the presenter/author will be requested to submit a final, camera-ready, abstract several months before the symposium. The final abstracts will be distributed in an abstract booklet at the symposium.


Symposium presenters are required to submit their papers to the Selected Technical Papers (STP), an online and printed, peer-reviewed publication for the international scientific and engineering community. After the final selection of abstracts has been approved, the ASTM Editorial Office will send authors’ instructions via email only. Manuscripts to be peer reviewed for the STP are due online no later than January 17, 2020 at the ASTM Editorial Office. The corresponding author (the author who is the main contact with ASTM Headquarters) will receive a copy of their paper in portable document format (.pdf). All published authors will have the opportunity to purchase reprints of their papers at a nominal cost. Only those papers submitted by the manuscript due date will be included in the STP.

Please note that all submitted papers are subject to single blind peer review and will be submitted to the Library of Congress with an ISBN number and will be reviewed for inclusion in the "Thomson & Reuters Web of Science's Conference Proceedings Citation Index" (CPCI) and Google Scholar.

Technical Chair Contact Information

Additional information about the symposium is available from Symposium Chairman Diana Fisler via email at, or by phone at +1 303-378-9141; or Symposium Co-chair Marcin Pazera via email at or by phone at +1 740-777-7256.


DOE Updates Building Energy Modeling Tools

Wed, 2019-05-15 14:38
Energy Efficiency

This OpenStudio energy model was used to evaluate the conversion of a 1950s Army barracks to a zero net energy (ZNE) office building as part of the Fort Carson (CO) Energy Research Project.

Whole-Building Energy Modeling (BEM) is a versatile, multipurpose tool that is used in new building and retrofit design, code compliance, green certification, qualification for tax credits and utility incentives, and real-time building control. BEM is also used in large-scale analyses to develop building energy-efficiency codes and inform policy decisions. So what exactly is BEM? And what roles does the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) play in the BEM industry and community? Learn more about BEM, its uses, and BTO’s BEM portfolio.


DOE Issues Preliminary Determination of Energy Savings for Residential Buildings

Wed, 2019-05-15 14:20
Energy Efficiency

The Department of Energy (DOE) has published its affirmative determination that the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) will increase energy efficiency in residential buildings. According to the DOE analysis, "buildings meeting the 2018 IECC (as compared to the previous 2015 edition) would result in national energy savings of approximately:

  • 1.97 percent energy cost
  • 1.91 percent source energy
  • 1.68 percent site energy"

Comments can be submitted within 30 days from publication of this Notice in the Federal Register.

ASHRAE has recently published its own standard for residential buildings that presents a new approach to delivered residential building energy performance and seeks to deliver residential building energy performance that is at least 50 percent more efficient than the energy efficiency defined by the 2006 IECC. To learn more about ASHRAE Standard 90.2 – Energy Efficient Design of Low-rise Residential Buildings, click here.


State Legislature Building Code Updates

Wed, 2019-05-15 14:16
Building CodesEnergy EfficiencyColorado

Colorado HB 1260 passed the Senate and would require local building codes to include the most recent three editions of the IECC.


Nebraska legislators have sent a bill to Governor Pete Ricketts that would update the state's energy codes for residential and commercial buildings for the first time in a decade. The bill, LB 405, updates the state energy codes from the 2009 edition to the 2018 edition of the International Energy Conservation Codes and requires counties and cities within the state to notify the State Energy Office upon amending or modifying local building or construction codes.


SEDAC Offering Illinois Energy Conservation Code Webinar

Wed, 2019-05-08 16:47
Building CodesEnergy Efficiency

The Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, on behalf of the Illinois EPA Office of Energy, is offering an Illinois Energy Conservation Code training opportunity for community code officials, and construction and design professionals. The upcoming webinar on 2018 IECC for Existing Buildings will be held on May 22, 2019 at 12 p.m. CT. As part of its advocacy in Illinois, PIMA previously recommended that the state host trainings on the energy code requirements for existing buildings. 

Register for Webinar