Energy Efficiency and Building Science News

What’s the Big Deal with Air Leakage?

Tue, 2019-08-13 20:20
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Today, it is well understood that controlling air leakage through building envelopes by proper use of air sealing materials and methods is crucial for many reasons:

  • As much as 1/3rd of a building’s heating and cooling energy use is associated with air leakage.
  • For the U.S. commercial and residential building stock, air leakage through building envelopes accounts for roughly 5 quads (5,000,000,000,000,000 Btu) of energy use per year (that’s equivalent to the energy content of about 40 billion gallons of gasoline per year or 125 gallons per U.S. citizen per year).
  • Controlling air leakage reduces energy bills and increases occupant comfort.
  • Minimizing air leakage helps prevent moist air intrusion and condensation within building envelope assemblies, thus minimizing potential for mold, rot, corrosion, and other forms of degradation that reduce the life-expectancy and serviceability of buildings.
  • With building envelope air leakage controlled, building ventilation systems are better able to control indoor air quality.
  • Reduced energy loss due to air leakage allows smaller heating and cooling equipment sizes for greater efficiency and cost savings.
  • The above energy use impact of air leakage has a direct environmental impact of about 360 million tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions released into the earth’s atmosphere each year.

These many facts convey significant benefits of controlling building air leakage. However, these facts are confronted and the benefits are realized only if air leakage control is effectively put into practice. Fortunately, U.S model energy codes have continued to improve in this regard (see Table 1 and Figure 1). 

Table 1: 2009 vs. 2012/2015/2018 IECC Climate Zone 2009 IECC 2012/2015/2019 IECC 1-2 < 7 ACH ≤ 5 ACH @ 50 pascals 3-8 < 7 ACH @ 50 pascals ≤ 3 ACH @ 50 pascals Air sealing list & visual inspection Yes Yes Blower Door Test Not required Required

ACH = air changes per hour; a measure of building air tightness.

Figure 1: U.S. Climate Zones

With the importance of air leakage control for building envelopes firmly established, we have now set the stage for three future articles on air leakage control. The next installment will cover some history of air leakage which will bring us to appreciate the multiple materials and methods available today to achieve air leakage control. The third article will discuss the various activities required for an effective air barrier system installation and the shortcomings of relying solely on visual inspection for compliance. The fourth and last article in the series will discuss the ultimate, objective means of achieving compliance and a good performing air barrier system: the blower door test.

For more information on air leakage control, refer to https://www.continuousinsulation.org/air-barrier

 

What Are the Fundamentals of Thermal Bridging?

Tue, 2019-08-13 19:58
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Thermal bridges in walls can reduce the overall energy efficiency performance of a building. In addition, ignoring thermal bridges can result in thinking the building is performing equal to or better than expected, yet have moisture condensation issues that ultimately lead to corrosion, mold, rot and more.

Jay Crandell, P.E., covers the basics of thermal bridging in wall assembly performance in his “Fundamentals of Thermal Bridging,” presentation, originally given at the 2018 ASHRAE Annual Conference.

The presentation also demonstrates methods of estimating the magnitude of the effect of thermal bridges using mathematical approaches to calculating assembly performance, and explains the pros and cons of various methods including clear-field, linear and point thermal bridges.

Crandell’s presentation can be downloaded from the ContinuousInsulation.org website along with numerous other excellent resources regarding Thermal Bridging and much more.

Insulation Helps Meet Tough City Building Codes

Tue, 2019-08-13 19:23
Building CodesEnergy Efficiency

The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), known as the nation’s third busiest airport, has been undergoing a major overhaul that requires adherence to strict city building codes. With the addition of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) in 2013, came a list of projects to be piloted throughout the airport. One of the major projects on that list is the new Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) North, a five-level, 750,000 square-foot expansion that will be accessible via a spacious 1,200 ft. long tunnel corridor with moving walkways from the Tom Bradley terminal.

With 12 new gates, aircraft parking aprons and taxiways, the new concourse addition will improve operations, enable faster connections, and ease passenger access, all while providing state-of-the-art facilities. Corgan is the lead architecture firm, in association with Gensler and gkkworks (now CannonDesign), on the design build project for the Midfield Satellite Concourse. Turner Construction Company and PCL Construction Services, Inc. are managing the project. Construction, which is a part of a 1.2-billion-dollar initiative, started in February of 2017 and is expected to wrap up in early 2020.

Stringent Code Requirements

With the onset of design, the architects were aware the project had to meet the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen) Mandatory and Tier 1 requirements. CALGreen is a state code with mandatory sustainability related requirements, while Tier 1 is a set of voluntary sustainability measures that each jurisdiction has the option to enforce. With their noteworthy commitment to sustainability, Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA) has chosen to require larger projects earn the Tier 1 certification. Tier 1 triggers a higher level of sustainability strategies, among which is the measurement of Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) on thermal insulation.

CALGreen is the first-in-the-nation mandatory green building standards code. Developed in 2007, it targets the reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) from buildings, while promoting environmentally responsible, cost-effective, healthier places to live and work. The building code also seeks to reduce water consumption and responds to the environmental directives of the many development agencies. The formation of the CALGreen Code has been a vital step toward more efficient and responsible building design throughout California.

In order for the new Midfield Satellite Concourse to meet the CALGreen Tier 1 requirement, the thermal insulation used in the project had to meet key requirements that measured volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions. The architects needed a thermal building insulation solution that would meet these strict requirements while offering superior performance and fitting within the build budget.

A Wave of Design Needs

Because the new concourse is designed to complement the ocean wave theme of the airport, the architects envisaged a stunning curvilinear roof. This unique design element additionally demanded specific roof and wall configuration requirements. To bring the vision into reality, the team needed insulation materials that could be custom fit to meet their curvature and design needs.

Approach:

The design and construction team began searching for an insulation solution that would meet or exceed all code and environmental requirements. Atlas EnergyShield and ACFoam products were continually recommended by industry experts due to their low VOC emissions and optimal performance. To ensure the Atlas products would meet the CALGreen Tier 1 requirement, both the wall and roof insulation solutions went through extensive Greenguard Gold testing: Atlas ACFoam-II for roof insulation and EnergyShield CGF Pro for wall insulation. Atlas polyiso insulation creates a versatile, effective barrier for thermal, air, moisture and vapor control, which were critical in this application and highly important features to the MSC build and design teams.

Greenguard Gold testing requires that products meet some of the world’s most rigorous standards for low emissions of VOCs into indoor environments. This certification provides designers, architects and contractors an easy way to identify premium products that aid in the creation of healthier indoor environments and release fewer pollutants that can contribute to health issues, including asthma and other respiratory issues. These standards are preserved by UL Environment and incorporate health-based emissions criteria established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, State of California and other reputable public health agencies.

“The City of Los Angeles, unlike any other jurisdiction that I have worked with, has a very aggressive approach to sustainability,” said Jennifer Wehling, Sustainability Specialist at Corgan. “When it became clear the Tier 1 thermal insulation prerequisite was seemingly unattainable, the project team worked with the City of LA, the Building Standards Committee, as well as a number of industry experts in the matter to find a solution. We were highly selective in the products we chose to bring this project to life. Having successfully worked with Atlas in the past, we were thankful for their willingness to go through the Greenguard Gold testing process.”

After eight weeks of testing, both the Atlas ACFoam-II and EnergyShield CGF Pro products passed the vigorous requirements for Greenguard Gold certification. The size and scale of the project was significant. More than 5,000 squares of ACFoam are required on the roof, which represents 500,000 square feet. ACFoam is among the most sustainable and widely used roofing material, and it can be found on high-profile buildings throughout the country. The standard size of an ACFoam panel is 4’x4’ or 4’x8’, but due to the curvature of the roof, Atlas needed to custom make 2’x8’ panels of ACFoam in order to meet the architect’s design needs.

More than 215,000 square feet of Atlas EnergyShield CGF Pro wall insulation will provide the highest R-value, durability and water resistive barrier attributes to ensure the best building performance. The wall insulation is vapor permeable and composed of a Class A fire-rated (NFPA 285 compliant), closed cell polyiso rigid foam core faced with a high performance coated glass facer on the front and back, which meets all project and code requirements and ensures a continuous insulation solution.

To complete this project, the design build team will utilize a combination of 715,000 square feet of Atlas building products, including Atlas ACFoam roofing insulation and EnergyShield wall insulation.

Impact & Results: 

In addition to attaining the CALGreen Tier 1 requirement, the build and design teams are aiming for the concourse to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certified. LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. It also provides a framework that project teams can apply to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. With both Atlas ACFoam and EnergyShield CGF Pro being Greenguard Gold certified, it will help the project to gain the prestigious LEED Silver certification.

The state of California has taken steps to lower the VOC emissions inside buildings, and by utilizing the Atlas polyiso roof and wall insulation solutions, a healthier indoor environment can be enjoyed by everyone visiting the new Midfield Satellite Concourse at the LAX airport. The new concourse will see major efficiencies, including significant environmental improvements and better thermal insulation management. Atlas products continue to be sought out in high-profile commercial and residential environments due to low VOC emissions and providing an effective yet versatile thermal barrier for air, moisture, and vapor control.

All teams involved worked together to make sure products and testing satisfied stringent code requirements. For this project, Atlas was the only manufacturer willing to commit to the Greenguard Gold testing standard, obtaining certifications for insulation requirements that will not only help projects earn the stringent CALGreen Tier 1 certification, but also provide new options for projects seeking LEED v4 certification, setting a new standard for what architects and builders can achieve in future projects.

For additional information on continuous insulation applications, visit these webpages on Continuousinsulation.org.

 

Colorado Requires IECC Adoption

Tue, 2019-08-13 19:12
Building Codes

The Governor of Colorado’s signing of HB10-1260 is notable because Colorado is a home rule state. While this bill would allow jurisdictions to retain some freedom regarding their energy bill, it would also require them to use one of the model energy codes that were developed and published within the last decade.

The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is an industry standard that establishes the design and construction requirements for energy efficient buildings. House Bill 19-1260 directs counties, when adopting or updating building codes, to meet or exceed the standards in one of the three most recent versions of the IECC. Once an energy code is adopted or updated, the bill encourages counties and municipalities to report to the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) within a month. The bill also requires counties and municipalities that have enacted a building energy code to report to the CEO by January 1, 2020.

Rep. Cathy Kipp, one of the bill’s sponsors, stated, “Bringing energy codes up to date is good for cities, good for residents, and good for our planet.”

The time frame for when the bill goes into effect is as follows: “By January 1, 2020, every Board of County Commissioners of a County which has enacted a building code and an energy code shall report the current version of their County’s building and energy codes to the Colorado Energy Office. Thereafter, every Board of County Commissioners is encouraged to report any change in their County’s building and energy code
to the Colorado Energy Office within a month of changing their County’s building and energy codes.

 

DOE Compares 2015 IECC to the 2018 Version – Result Is?

Tue, 2019-08-13 19:06
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The DOE recently released its preliminary determination of energy savings for residential buildings in the 2018 IECC. DOE is required by statute to issue a determination of the efficiency of the IECC compared to the previous edition every time a new edition is published. The process usually takes anywhere from 12-18 months.

Here’s the condensed version of the report: Compared to the 2015 IECC, the 2018 IECC will slightly improve the energy efficiency of buildings in all climate zones.

On a weighted national average, the savings are:
• 1.68% of annual site energy use intensity (EUI)
• 1.91% of annual source EUI, and
• 1.97% of annual energy cost1

When looking at the relative energy savings by climate zone, the 2018 IECC will save a range of 1.35% in climate zone 2 (on the low end) to 2.22% in climate zone 4 (on the high end).

Given the movement in many states to set aggressive renewable energy and/or carbon reduction goals, the IECC might appear out of touch. And yes, these numbers are paltry compared to where society needs to go … and where the building industry is headed. However, codes are typically behind the trend, not leading the way.

While there aren’t many proposals for the 2021 IECC that will significantly increase the comparative energy savings, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more aggressive proposals in the 2024 and 2027 IECC code development cycles.

The full, 50-page analysis can be found here.

 

EnergyShield Continuous Insulation Transforms Musty Basement

Tue, 2019-08-13 19:00
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

In the fall of 2018, homeowners Jon and Rachel decided to move Jon’s mother into their home in Marietta, GA after her husband passed away. With the move-in date set, the couple had only a few months to prepare a new basement suite for her arrival. While the basement had been remodeled 20 years prior, it needed modern updates before Jon’s mom could comfortably live in the space.

The “before” basement space.

It was evident the entire basement level lacked proper insulation, as the temperature could not be well controlled. The basement also had a strong, musty odor due to condensation issues. Before Jon and Rachel could tackle the complete mother-in-law suite remodel, including a new floor plan and well-equipped kitchenette, they needed to improve the basement’s foundational elements to create a comfortable living environment.

Jon and Rachel decided that a dedicated HVAC unit had to be installed in order to improve heating and cooling. The couple discussed that while a new HVAC unit was necessary, without adequate insulation, it’d be tough to heat and cool the basement effectively. They also knew that the space needed a vast improvement in moisture control to remove its musty odor.

Approach

To provide a relaxing and healthy living space while keeping heating and cooling costs low, Jon and Rachel required a highly energy efficient insulation solution. The couple found that ideal solution in EnergyShield continuous wall insulation from Atlas Roofing Corp.

With a demonstrated track record of improving long-term energy efficiencies, moisture management capabilities, and superior fire performance, EnergyShield is a high-performance wall insulation trusted by the pros in commercial buildings across the country.

EnergyShield is NFPA 286 compliant, meaning it can be left exposed on the interior of the building without it needing to be covered with a code-approved thermal barrier such as ½ gypsum. Because of its affordability and easy installation, EnergyShield offers a great option for homeowners and residential construction projects as well. The product provides a high R-value of 6.5 per inch, which makes EnergyShield more than suitable to use in order to meet the 2018 IECC requirements.

For climate zone 3 wood framed walls, the 2018 IECC requires either R 20 in the cavity or R 13 in the cavity and R 5 continuous insulation. By adding the R 5 continuous insulation outbound, you are reducing the thermal bridging. EnergyShield also features durable foil-facers with water resistive barrier attributes. These features can assist in mitigating mold, which would address Jon and Rachel’s strong basement smell.

While making their decision, the couple also valued EnergyShield’s GREENGUARD Gold certification. GREENGUARD Gold testing requires that building products designed for indoor spaces meet some of the world’s most rigorous limits for chemical and particle emissions, including emissions of VOCs, into their environments.

Recognized and referenced by over 400 codes, this certification provides designers, architects and contractors an easy way to identify premium products that aid in the creation of healthier indoor environments and release fewer pollutants that can contribute to health issues, including asthma and other respiratory issues. The GREENGUARD Gold certification is designed to determine if a product is suitable for an environment where people, particularly children and sensitive adults, spend extended periods of time- such as in a home.

In new homes, continuous insulation is traditionally installed outbound of studs and sheathing. Yet in remodeling projects, continuous insulation may be installed inbound of the studs. Because Jon and Rachel were remodeling an older home, and because their basement walls were situated below grade rather than above ground, they decided to install the wall insulation inbound of the studs. Although doing so sacrificed a few inches of floorspace, it ultimately created a much healthier and more energy efficient living environment because the sheets of insulation are tightly placed end-to-end, eliminating the possibility of thermal bridging.

Impact

With the EnergyShield insulation fully installed and the mother-in-law suite completed, a happy new family member moved in. Jon, Rachel and Jon’s mother-in-law all agree the basement is now the most comfortable space in the house. Though the basement floor of older homes is typically the coldest, Jon and Rachel have noticed the mother-in-law basement suite stays warmer than their first floor during the winter months.

After installing the second HVAC unit, the couple expected to see a huge increase in their energy consumption. Yet due to the energy efficiency of the EnergyShield insulation, there has been almost no difference in their monthly power bill. The musty basement odor is long gone, and Jon’s mom now enjoys fresh-smelling and healthy indoor air.

“I’m really amazed by the transformation of my son’s basement,” said Linda, Jon’s mother. “The suite is so comfortable and cozy, and makes the house feel like new construction.”

Jon and Rachel also plan on using the Atlas EnergyShield product when it comes time to replace their siding and insulate the rest of the home.

To learn more about wall design and Atlas products, check out the Atlas Wall Builder Tool.

For additional information on continuous insulation applications, visit these webpages on Continuousinsulation.org.

 

Are Smart Phase Change Roofs the Future?

Tue, 2019-08-13 18:52
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The recent heatwave that overwhelmed much of the U.S. prompted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to declare a state of emergency according to the New York Times, announcing, “We have not seen temperatures like this in at least seven years.” The New York Police Department even admonished people not to go outside, half-joking, “Sunday has been canceled. Stay indoors, nothing to see here. Really, we got this." And this was before a black-out cut off electricity to 50,000 resident.

A special sweating polymer mat (right) cools a model house more effectively than a mat made of a conventional polymer (left, infrared image). (Photo: Rotzetter ACC et al. / Advanced Materials)

The challenge of managing climactic extremes is only expected to worsen. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the average number of annual heat waves in major U.S. cities has tripled from two to six since the 1960s. According to a recent article in Environmental Research Communications, temperatures above 100 F may occur for a third of the year in Gulf Coast states by the end of this century.

To address this, architects are increasingly turning to cool-roof technologies as a fundamental climate adaptation strategy. Simply defined, a cool roof is more reflective and less heat absorptive than a typical roof. These two data points, solar reflectance and thermal emittance, are measured on a scale between 0 (poor) and 1 (excellent); that is, the coolest roof would be rated a 1 in both categories. Architecture2030’s 2030 Palette recommends that roofs be light in surface color and possess a solar reflectance and thermal emittance exceeding 0.7 and 0.75, respectively.

Cool roofs have a notable drawback, however. In climates with cold to moderate winters, sunlight is reflected rather than absorbed during those months, resulting in colder interiors and higher heating bills. Thus, architects and their clients must discuss the heat gain to energy trade-off when deciding how cool the roof should be.

One recent option is to specify a smart roof. A new generation of adaptive roofing

technologies takes the cool roof a step further, using materials able to change their reflectance and thermal emittance properties seasonally. Although these technologies are relatively new in the marketplace, the promise of a genuinely climate-responsive roof is close at hand.

In a 2007 paper, Jan Kosny, once a researcher in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Building Envelopes group, explained that phase change materials (PCMs) were tested extensively in the 1970s and 1980s for residential construction. PCMs store and release significant amounts of heat when undergoing a physical state change. Overcoming the chemical instability and flammability issues of the early experiments, Kosny and his colleagueORNL scientist Bill Miller developed a prototype roof system that encapsulates an inorganic PCM between reflective aluminum foil sheets. (PCMs employed in this way reduce summer cooling loads without impairing winter thermal performance.) Used in conjunction with a proprietary attic heat exhaust, the ORNL system achieves a 20 F reduction in interior temperature inside a conventional attic on a 92 F summer day.

Other technologies utilize smart coatings that may be applied directly to roofing materials. Horseheads, N.Y.–based United Environment & Energy has invented a bio-based thermochromic material that can selectively reflect and absorb solar heat. The substance consists of waste cooking oil with an ingredient that causes it to change color when hot. Principal investigator Ben Wen and his team coated asphalt roofing shingles with the substance, essentially transforming shingles into smart composites that reduce both cooling and heating loads of buildings. Moreover, according to UEE’s Department of Energy grant submission, “The use of a renewable and agriculture based coating product will also eliminate the odor and volatile organic compounds emissions associated with traditional roof coating products and generate more economic opportunity for the agricultural sector.”

In another development, scientists at ETH Zurich have devised a surface technology that “sweats” like human skin to cool buildings. The critical ingredient is a thermo-responsive hydrogel, which releases stored water when it exceeds a target temperature of 90 F. When the roof becomes this hot, the 3-millimeter-thick hydrogel layer “sweats” between a polycarbonate membrane and PVC foil, essentially flooding the roof. This water subsequently evaporates, prolonging a cooler surface temperature for about three hours in tests. According to the researchers, this reversible technology could result in an energy savings of 220 kilowatts annually for a single detached residence. Tropical climates would make ideal locations, given the abundance of rain to recharge the roof’s water stores.

In addition to panels and shingles, another standard roof module is tiles. According to materials scientists at the New University of Lisbon, in Portugal, the roof deserves particular attention in energy studies since conventional roofing tiles (and other materials) store between 85 and 95 percent of the solar energy they receive. To solve this problem, the researchers have created smart ceramic roof tiles with a nanostructured optical surface. This surface is made of vanadium oxide (VO2), a thermochromic material commonly used in smart windows whose transition temperature is 154 F. Infrared light passes freely through VO2 below this temperature but is mostly blocked above it. By adding tungsten trioxide, the scientists brought the transition temperature down to 120 F, a more suitable threshold for building surfaces.

University of Boulder engineers Jenna Testa and Moncef Krarti have evaluated smart roof technologies in “a review of benefits and limitations of static and switchable cool roof systems,” published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. They simulated smart roofing products in different ASHRAE climate zones and found that they could reduce energy use by up to 6 percent compared with static (non-smart) cool roof equivalents. They also determined that such technologies could deliver further gains when applied to other opaque building surfaces, such as walls, revealing up to 11 % additional savings.

Smart roof materials are not without limitations, however. For example, in sunny but cold climates, a lower reflectance mode may not be desirable. Similarly, cloudy but warm climates may allow too much heat to enter a building. Nevertheless, smart roof technologies compare favorably overall with the widely recommended cool roofs in their climate responsiveness—a trait that will doubtless increase in importance.

 

Resilience, IECC, Insulation and Air Sealing – Best Practice

Tue, 2019-08-13 18:38
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Hardly a day goes by that a news story doesn’t cover a disaster event somewhere in the world. The U.S. has certainly had its share of disasters recently. In 2017, there were 16 disasters costing $1 billion or more—totaling over $300 billion in damages.

In 2018 there were 14 such disasters. Already in 2019, before the start of hurricane and wildfire seasons, two such events have occurred. In fact, since 1980 the U.S. has experienced 246 disasters causing $1 billion damages or more, for a total impact exceeding $1.6 trillion, per the Washington, D.C.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The impacts of such events are felt throughout the community. Lives are disrupted as the community works toward recovery. Building owners are particularly impacted. Damaged buildings can trigger costly repairs and lost revenues as tenants must relocate (or worse, close up shop completely). Research has shown that following a disaster, roughly 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen and 90 percent fail within a year if they can’t resume operations within five days. Keeping businesses open supports a community’s ability to “bounce back”—a key component of what it means to be resilient.

Although a building owner may not fully recognize his or her disaster risks (and there are few places without some risk), one thing is certain, operating costs—particularly energy—are an ongoing burden. Fortunately, there are opportunities to “kill two birds with one stone.” An expanding body of research is examining the ability to capture both energy efficiency and resilience benefits, or co-benefits, through the application of certain measures. This focus on the energy/resilience nexus provides new avenues for retrofits that capture multiple benefits.

Value of Considering Energy Conservation Retrofits

As building owners undertake retrofit activities, investments in mitigation can provide multiple returns. Some insurers may recognize the protections provided by resilience measures in the form of premium reductions; tenants or future buyers may place increased value on resilient properties (particularly when they are aware of such enhancements); and owners and tenants may save on energy costs. Updating an existing building to comply with provisions of the most recent edition of an energy code, like the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), can help deliver significant energy savings.

Increased energy efficiency in general when coupled with provisions for onsite electricity generation (whether through generators, CHP, or onsite renewables and storage) can extend the supply of onsite power generation by reducing the overall energy needs to provide essential functions. This could allow for a reduction in fuel storage needs or allow for longer operations without grid-provided electricity. Such a holistic strategy may also have benefits in non-hazard conditions, allowing increased participation in demand-response programs or reducing peak loads.

Either following a disaster event or in times of extreme heat or cold events, loss of power or reductions in service can impact the ability of a facility to remain safe for occupancy. The concept of passive survivability means that a facility continues to provide the services necessary (particularly air and thermal quality and water and sewage services) despite a loss in power.

study by the Urban Green Council and Atelier Ten, both of New York, found that in New York City buildings, during a winter blackout, a typical high-rise apartment would drop to 45 F within three days and continue to fall. In a summer blackout, a typical high-rise apartment would reach 95 F by the fourth day and peak at over 100 F. Strategies applicable to building retrofits can help keep temperature changes more gradual. Increased insulation, reducing air leakage (in conjunction with a proper passive ventilation strategy) and operable windows can all be part of a passive survivability strategy. Proper use of daylighting and avoiding blocking light that could reach into spaces could also make a facility more comfortable during a blackout.

Attention to detail on sealing and insulation can also limit the potential for rot, mold and mildew following extreme temperatures or some water-related events. Heat, air and moisture transfer can all contribute to indoor environmental quality issues.

Reducing the impacts of urban heat islands can provide energy efficiency and resilience benefits. Roof replacements can contribute to passive survivability, reducing the impacts of extreme heat at both the community and the building level.

Financing mitigation activities

These are just a few strategies that can be deployed during retrofit projects that capture co-benefits of enhanced resilience and energy savings. Despite these benefits, securing internal funding for disaster mitigation and energy-efficiency improvements may be challenging.

Recognizing the benefits mitigation measures provide to building owners and communities, many Property Assessed Clean Energy (or now more appropriately called Property Assessed Capital Expenditure) programs are starting to include mitigation as an eligible PACE project. PACE programs in California support seismic retrofits that can be done alongside or independent of energy- and water-efficiency improvements. Florida PACE programs allow hurricane mitigation measures. Other states are beginning to follow suit. At a community level, a recent study found that avoided property damage from hurricanes due to the Florida PACE program topped $507 million. [Read “Impacts of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program on the Economies of California and Florida”, published by the Sol Price School of Public Policy.]

The Washington-based U.S. Department of Energy offers a toolkit on Commercial-PACE for resilience, including case studies. One case study covers the retrofit of the Southern Oaks Rehab and Nursing Center in Pensacola, Fla. Southern Oaks partnered with Counterpointe SRE to secure a $500,000 PACE deal, which paid for a full retrofit of the building’s windows and roof. The installed windows are rated to withstand winds of up to 200 mph and have a low-e/ argon glazing U-value of .28. The low U- value windows provide greater resistance to heat flow, resulting in cooler interior temperatures and less demand from cooling units.

Resilience does pay off

The growing threat of disaster is placing increased pressure on communities and building owners to be prepared to weather the storm. Fortunately, there are measures building owners can take to reduce the risk to their facility while also capturing ongoing benefits through reduced energy costs. Later this year, the National Institute of Building Sciences, Washington, will release the next edition of its widely cited “Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves” study—this time with an examination of the benefits associated with building retrofits. Quantifying these benefits will hopefully provide additional justification for investing in retrofits that capture both energy and resilience benefits.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Roof Flashing

Wed, 2019-08-07 08:17
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Certain parts of a roof are particularly prone to hidden leaks and subsequent water damage. These include roof valleys, chimneys, and skylight perimeters—pretty much any area where there is a lot of runoff or two surfaces meet. These spots need special protection that only properly installed flashing can provide.

Below is a compilation of articles, videos, and tips on roof flashing from the Fine Homebuilding archives. We’ve got you covered on everything from vent flashing to common errors in the process. Learn from experts like builder Mike Guertin, who shares his best tips and methods. These curated articles and videos will give you the tools you need to ensure that your roof performs at its very best, keeping you dry and preventing water damage.

For more information, read the following article: Preventing Construction Defects Through Pan Flashing of Windows

Installing Step Flashing to Prevent Roof Leaks

The first rule of roof flashing is water runs downhill; the second rule is that the first rule isn't without exceptions

A Guide to Better Boot Flashings

Use a better plumbing vent pipe boot flashing to last the lifetime of a new roof.

Edge Flashing for Roofs

Q: Metal rake-edge roof flashing is treated as a commodity product. It’s sold by every building supplier without labels or instructions. I always wonder, though, if I’m detailing the flashing…

Bending kick-out flashing

If the bottom of a roof where it meets a wall is not flashed properly, the siding will be kept wet, leading to peeling paint and rot. In this "Building…

Plumbing Vent Boot Flashing Repair: Method 1

Repair a boot flashing without doing a full replacement.

Plumbing Vent Boot Flashing Repair: Method 2

Repair a boot flashing with Perma-Boot.

Video Vault: Direct Water Into Gutters With a Kickout Flashing Diverter

A proactive approach to flashing one of a roof's most vulnerable intersections

MEMBER-ONLY  Four Steps to Flash a Dormer

This leak-free approach begins with an impenetrable corner detail.

MEMBER-ONLY  Chimney Flashing

What's the Difference: Lead vs. copper

How to Repair a Roof Flashing Boot (in a Flash)

Here's a quick and trouble free way to repair a vent pipe roof flashing when the rubber seal part has failed from UV damage. Sure beats tearing out the whole…

Back Up Your Vent Pipe Flashing

Use flashing tape and additional underlayment to backstop your flashing boot.

Better Boot Flashings Last Longer, Seal Better

If ordinary boot flashings are not durable, shouldn't we use better designed and manufactured ones?

MEMBER-ONLY  Flashing a Chimney

Installing the flashing along with the bricks makes for a more secure and much better-looking job.

MEMBER-ONLY  Vent Flashing Done Right

Back up roof vent boots with flashing, counterflashing, and proper shingling to prevent leaks.

How to Bend Copper Chimney Flashing

Roofing project manager Dyami Plotke demonstrates how to fabricate complex pieces of flashing with a sheet-metal brake and describes the various pieces needed to make a chimney-to-roof connection watertight

MEMBER-ONLY  Roof Flashing

Installation details can make the difference between a trouble-free roof and an expensive callback.

MEMBER-ONLY  Time-Tested Approach to Chimney Flashing

Proven methods and durable materials keep out water for decades.

Valley flashing

Successful valley flashing is one of the fine points of making a wood-shingle roof weathertight. I favor the old-fashioned method of nailing shingles into 1x3 horizontal stripping; fixing shingles to…

MEMBER-ONLY  Flashing

Anticipate the flow of water to keep it outside your house, where it belongs.

MEMBER-ONLY  How to Avoid Common Flashing Errors

Building paper and adhesive-backed bituminous tape are vital ingredients in protecting a building from water damage.

Video: Using a Sheet Brake

A professional roofer demonstrates ways to use a stationary brake to bend flashing.

MEMBER-ONLY  A Smarter Way to Flash

Removable two-part counterflashing allows access to roof flashings without digging in to the wall.

 

How To: Air-Sealing Simplified

Wed, 2019-08-07 07:12
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Synopsis: Carpenter Tim Holton describes a project in which his team added a sunroom to the back of a client’s home, and the site’s unique requirements made a piered foundation with deck-style footings the best solution. He details the process of building the floor frame on the pressure-treated foundation attached to concrete piers, and then lifting the floor to sheathe it from beneath. Using this method, the crew was able to forgo excavating machines and minimize damage to the yard and surrounding areas.

As a remodeling contractor, I often find myself with unique projects that take some outside-the-box thinking, and this job was no different. My customers wanted to add a 12-ft. by 16-ft. sunroom to the back of their home, and property lines, patios, gardens, and a septic system made it near impossible to get excavation equipment and concrete trucks to the location.

After some research and talking with inspectors and other respected contractors, I decided to build the addition on deck-style footings and a subframe of built-up pressure-treated beams. This is not the standard foundation for sunrooms in our area, but the pros greatly outweighed the cons in this situation. We were able to hand-dig each footing 42 in. deep and place 18-in. concrete forms in the holes, then wheel the concrete around from the driveway to fill the forms. By forgoing excavating machines and distributing the soil from the footing holes to the gardens, we minimized damage to the yard and surrounding areas.

Since the addition is a conditioned space without a crawlspace or basement, we had to come up with a way to seal the floor from air and moisture. We placed a 6-mil polyethylene vapor barrier and stone on the ground under the floor system to help prevent ground moisture from wicking and diffusing up through the bottom. We kept the floor approximately 6 in. above our stone and vapor barrier to allow some airflow under the space.

That just left air-sealing. After many hours of figuring, we devised a way to build a standard floor, raise it up, sheathe and tape it, and lower it back down. We rented two manually operated material lifts, each with a 1000-lb. load capacity, from our local supplier and used them to raise up the floor frame. Once it was up at a comfortable working height, we could sheathe it from below—similar to hanging drywall on a ceiling, albeit nailed as in normal wall construction. Once the underside was sheathed and the seams were taped, we lowered the structure back into place, nailed it off, insulated it, sheathed the top side, and continued with our wall framing just as if we were building on a standard floor system. (We didn’t tape the perimeter of the sheathing to the floor frame, but it wouldn’t hurt to do so.)

To fully insulate the floor, we placed strips of 1 1/2-in.-thick rigid foam in each joist bay and along the rim joists, and sealed the perimeter of the strips with spray foam. Fiberglass- batt insulation fills the remainder of the joist cavity, and 3/4-in. AdvanTech subflooring caps the floor system. Wire mesh attached to the perimeter framing and buried 2 in. deep in the soil around the perimeter will help keep rodents out.

This method of construction is an unorthodox approach and presents some challenges, but on a tight site such as this, it can be a better and more cost-effective option than a traditional foundation.

For additional information, visit the air barrier webpage on the Continuous Insulation website.

 

Factors That Influence Builder’s Insulation Preferences

Wed, 2019-08-07 06:55
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The 2019 Annual Builder Practices Survey, which had more than 1,600 homebuilder participants this year, provides some powerful insight into the thermal products market in the U.S.

According to the survey, adoption of more stringent energy codes, homebuyer demographics driving the demand for lower energy bills, labor, and building material costs are prompting homebuilders to seek higher performing insulation that is also budget-friendly. Not surprisingly, these two factors seem to be tugging the market in different directions.

The performance vs. value tradeoff in the decision to specify insulation materials continued to be a key question for most homebuilders. According to the survey, some builders would use full-cavity foam insulation, if the cost were lower. The real challenge is that some homebuilders still believe fiberglass is the best bang-for-the-buck, and if they’re looking for higher energy performance they will actually invest in things like energy efficient windows and HVAC systems over upgrading the insulation.

A builder’s insulation preference is also heavily influenced by geographic area, price-point of their homes, and how many units they build annually. For example, fiberglass batt has its deepest market penetration in Pacific states and lowest in West South Central states. Smaller builders (10 or fewer starts-per-year) are three times as likely to use spray foam than larger builders (more than 50 starts-per-year).

Source: 2019 Annual Builder Practices Survey, Home Innovation Research Labs

Difference in insulation usage was less variable when it came to home size as per building size. Yet, spray foam was about twice as likely to be used in luxury homes than starter homes, as an example. Conversely, fiberglass batts was more likely to be put in starter homes than luxury homes.

 

Retrofit Concepts Improve Energy Efficiency

Tue, 2019-08-06 22:53
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Hardly a day goes by that a news story doesn’t cover a disaster event somewhere in the world. The U.S. has certainly had its share of disasters recently. In 2017, there were 16 disasters costing $1 billion or more—totaling over $300 billion in damages. In 2018 there were 14 such disasters. Already in 2019, before the start of hurricane and wildfire seasons, two such events have occurred. In fact, since 1980 the U.S. has experienced 246 disasters causing $1 billion damages or more, for a total impact exceeding $1.6 trillion, per the Washington, D.C.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The impacts of such events are felt throughout the community. Lives are disrupted as the community works toward recovery. Building owners are particularly impacted. Damaged buildings can trigger costly repairs and lost revenues as tenants must relocate (or worse, close up shop completely). Research has shown that following a disaster, roughly 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen and 90 percent fail within a year if they can’t resume operations within five days. Keeping businesses open supports a community’s ability to “bounce back”—a key component of what it means to be resilient.

Click to enlarge. Research has shown that, following a disaster, roughly 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen and 90 percent fail within a year if they can’t resume operations within five days. INFOGRAPHIC: FEMA/Peter Herrick Jr.

Although a building owner may not fully recognize his or her disaster risks (and there are few places without some risk), one thing is certain, operating costs—particularly energy—are an ongoing burden. Fortunately, there are opportunities to “kill two birds with one stone.” An expanding body of research is examining the ability to capture both energy efficiency and resilience benefits, or co-benefits, through the application of certain measures. This focus on the energy/resilience nexus provides new avenues for retrofits that capture multiple benefits.

Retrofits at the Energy/ Resilience Nexus

As building owners undertake retrofit activities, investments in mitigation can provide multiple returns. Some insurers may recognize the protections provided by resilience measures in the form of premium reductions; tenants or future buyers may place increased value on resilient properties (particularly when they are aware of such enhancements); and owners and tenants may save on energy costs. Updating an existing building to comply with provisions of the most recent edition of an energy code, like the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), can help deliver significant energy savings.

Increased energy efficiency in general when coupled with provisions for onsite electricity generation (whether through generators, CHP, or onsite renewables and storage) can extend the supply of onsite power generation by reducing the overall energy needs to provide essential functions. This could allow for a reduction in fuel storage needs or allow for longer operations without grid-provided electricity. Such a holistic strategy may also have benefits in non-hazard conditions, allowing increased participation in demand-response programs or reducing peak loads.

Either following a disaster event or in times of extreme heat or cold events, loss of power or reductions in service can impact the ability of a facility to remain safe for occupancy. The concept of passive survivability means that a facility continues to provide the services necessary (particularly air and thermal quality and water and sewage services) despite a loss in power.
A study by the Urban Green Council and Atelier Ten, both of New York, found that in New York City buildings, during a winter blackout, a typical high-rise apartment would drop to 45 F within three days and continue to fall. In a summer blackout, a typical high-rise apartment would reach 95 F by the fourth day and peak at over 100 F. Strategies applicable to building retrofits can help keep temperature changes more gradual. Increased insulation, reducing air leakage (in conjunction with a proper pas- sive ventilation strategy) and operable windows can all be part of a passive survivability strategy. Proper use of daylighting and avoiding blocking light that could reach into spaces could also make a facility more comfortable during a blackout.

Attention to detail on sealing and insulation can also limit the potential for rot, mold and mildew following extreme temperatures or some water-related events. Heat, air and moisture transfer can all contribute to indoor environmental quality issues.

Reducing the impacts of urban heat islands can provide energy efficiency and resilience benefits. Roof replacements can contribute to passive survivability, reducing the impacts of extreme heat at both the community and the building level.

Financing Mitigation Activities

These are just a few strategies that can be deployed during retrofit projects that capture co-benefits of enhanced resilience and energy savings. Despite these benefits, securing internal funding for disaster mitigation and energy-efficiency improvements may be challenging.

Recognizing the benefits mitigation measures provide to building owners and communities, many Property Assessed Clean Energy (or now more appropriately called Property Assessed Capital Expenditure) programs are starting to include mitigation as an eligible PACE project. PACE programs in California support seismic retrofits that can be done alongside or independent of energy- and water-efficiency improvements. Florida PACE programs allow hurricane mitigation measures. Other states are beginning to follow suit. At a community level, a recent study found that avoided property damage from hurricanes due to the Florida PACE program topped $507 million. [Read “Impacts of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program on the Economies of California and Florida”, published by the Sol Price School of Public Policy.]

The Washington-based U.S. Department of Energy offers a toolkit on Commercial-PACE for resilience, including case studies. One case study covers the retrofit of the Southern Oaks Rehab and Nursing Center in Pensacola, Fla. Southern Oaks partnered with Counterpointe SRE to secure a $500,000 PACE deal, which paid for a full retrofit of the building’s windows and roof. The installed windows are rated to withstand winds of up to 200 mph and have a low-e/ argon glazing U-value of .28. The low U- value windows provide greater resistance to heat flow, resulting in cooler interior temper- atures and less demand from cooling units.

Resilience Does Pay Off

The growing threat of disaster is placing increased pressure on communities and building owners to be prepared to weather the storm. Fortunately, there are measures building owners can take to reduce the risk to their facility while also capturing ongoing benefits through reduced energy costs. Later this year, the National Institute of Building Sciences, Washington, will release the next edition of its widely cited “Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves” study—this time with an examination of the benefits associated with building retrofits. Quantifying these benefits will hopefully provide additional justification for investing in retrofits that capture both energy and resilience benefits.

Who Is ANCR?

The Washington, D.C.-based ALLIANCE FOR NATIONAL & COMMUNITY RESILIENCE is developing the tools to assist communities in evaluating and improving their resilience. Founded by the International Code Council, U.S. Resiliency Council and the Meridian Institute, ANCR is a 501(c)(3) national coalition of public- and private-sector stakeholders working to advance community resilience.

For additional information, visit the air barrier webpage on the Continuous Insulation website.

 

DuPont Receives Prestigious “A,A” Partners of Choice Award

Tue, 2019-08-06 22:43
Press Releases

DuPont Performance Building Solutions (PBS), a global business unit of DuPont, today announced that it has once again received the “A,A” Partners of Choice Award from David Weekley Homes, the home building industry’s gold standard for recognizing world-class performance. David Weekley Homes, the nation's largest privately held home builder, has been evaluating suppliers since 2004 with its world-class Supplier Evaluation Platform.

Based on the idea that customer excellence is continuously earned, David Weekley Homes began its Supplier Evaluation Platform to measure performances in reliability, communication, timeliness, follow-through and other areas critical to the business relationship. At the heart of the process is the "National Trading Partner Survey," which is distributed through more than 1,000 of the company's cross-functional team members, ranging from top executives to accounting. The result of this rigorous process has been improved service, channel costs and a heightened degree of homeowner satisfaction.

This year, DuPont PBS has received an “A,A” in Quality and Service award. The former Dow and DuPont businesses are no strangers to this award, with Dow winning for 15 consecutive years – the longest streak of more than 200 participating companies – and DuPont receiving this prestigious award for eight consecutive years. The newly combined DuPont PBS now offers customers industry-leading materials for air, water and thermal protection of all six sides of the building envelope – the walls, roof and foundation. Powerhouse brands such as DuPont™ Tyvek® Building Envelopes, STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene (XPS), and GREAT STUFF™ Insulating Foam Sealants work together seamlessly under DuPont PBS to enhance the building envelope and meet the market’s increased performance expectations.

“DuPont Performance Building Solutions continues to set the bar amongst our National Trading Partners by earning this prestigious distinction,” said John Schiegg, Director of Supply Chain Services for David Weekley Homes. “We rely on our partners to deliver quality products and superior service to our customers on every home, every time."

“We’re honored to receive the Partners of Choice Award from David Weekley Homes and see this achievement as a testament to our commitment and dedication to customers,” said Alan Hubbell, North America Residential Marketing Manager.

 

Points of View Learned by Installing Tstuds

Tue, 2019-08-06 22:10
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

Photo courtesy of Matt Risinger

Brian Iverson, inventor of the Tstud™, has stirred the pot. His 2×6 and 2×8 Tstuds are garnering a lot of attention among builders, designers, and building science nerds of all stripes. Touted as a six-in-one solution to thermal bridging in wall assemblies, the thermally broken Tstud is said to be a cost-effective, energy-saving, eco-friendly framing stud for the ultimate high-performance building envelope. The company also claims the product is easy to work with, doesn’t require any special training, and is stronger than #2 2x6s and 2x8s. That’s saying a lot. Hence, all the chatter.

A few weeks ago, we discussed Tstuds on the FHB podcast (episode 186). In response to my comment about wanting to hear from someone in favor of the product, Brad Stokes, a longtime DIY home remodeler, did some research and gave the matter a good deal of thought. “I’m mostly interested in the idea of the Tstud,” he says. “Everyone seems to be advocating for thicker and thicker walls these days, as if space is free and there is no impact on interior room dimensions or encroachment on exterior boundaries. Most of us live on a fraction of an acre and have room sizes that can’t afford to lose several inches or more around the edges—not to mention the fuss and expense of all the jamb extensions.”

Photo courtesy of Matt Risinger

Brad made some additional points that I think are worth sharing—they are good fodder for builders and designers curious about the pros and cons of this product. I also spoke with Marc Sloot of SALA Architects. He has spec’d Tstuds for a project currently underway and was able to share first-hand experience. Both Brad and Marc have responded to concerns expressed by FHB senior editor Patrick McComb, which included: cost, R-value claims, fussy corner connections, thermal bridging at the bottom plate, stud width, the two-dowel breakage limit, the 4-in. nail-gun requirement, product availability, and general complexity of the build, especially in terms of running mechanicals and plumbing.

Brad begins with cost, saying: “The economy and availability of 2×6 framing is hard to beat, but it gets expensive in real dollars to add exterior foam or a secondary wall, and to extend jambs and rework the exterior details. And that doesn’t include the penalty for those of us working with a finite footprint, and who really need those extra 3 in. to make the countertop or a queen-size bed fit in the room. What’s a few thousand extra dollars on a six-figure project if you can get more comfort, lower energy bills, and make that countertop fit? At $1000 or even $5000 more, it’s an intriguing option to consider—especially since it’s probably much stronger than my only other option of building a 2×4 wall with foam. Whether it’s this product or something similar, I am a potential customer.”

Marc’s thoughts run along similar lines. For the project pictured here—his first to be constructed with Tstuds—he was after a wall assembly with a mid-30s R-value. He considered 2x4s with exterior insulation, 2x6s with exterior insulation, conventional framing with standard interior insulation, and the Tstud assembly. “The Tstud was cost-competitive for getting to that R-value,” he reports. “It was maybe even a little less when you factor in trips around the house applying different layers for other assemblies.”

Marc views the Tstud system as the middle ground between advanced building science and code compliance. “It’s the sweet spot,” he says, noting that the Tstud wall assembly is a standard 5-1/2 in. thick, yet it creates a high-performance envelope. Additionally, he appreciates the split-stud construction—sheathing as well as interior wall finishes can be applied straight to the framing members, which, he says, make Tstuds a good choice for heavy exterior siding such as stone veneer.

Having experimented with myriad high-performance wall assemblies, Marc is familiar with the challenges of window and door openings. “You regularly need to address thermal bridging there,” he says. “Even if you are adding continuous exterior insulation, there is at least one solid framing member at those openings. There are lots of ways to do it but you get into the weeds on the complexities of how to install and fasten the units, whereas the Tstud can go right up to the edge of the rough opening. That simplifies the process and uses conventional methods that framers are used to.” (Marc sees that familiarity as one of the biggest advantages of the system.)

As for corner connections being fussy, Marc disagrees, saying they are straightforward. “It’s just a single Tstud on the outside corner and a 2x nailer on the inside—like a California corner—for the drywall to attach. It’s advanced framing.”

Brad concedes one trouble spot and suggests a fix. “Framing issues like the long nails could be overcome if they offered a 1-1/2-in.-thick product for the plates. I would think the structural specs for these horizontal members would be more achievable in a 1-1/2-in. thickness.” Another option is to use conventional PT 2x6s for the top and bottom plates. Brad concedes a thermal-bridging penalty there but he feels it would still be an improvement over conventional framing. When asked about Tstud bottom plates, Marc admits he used a PT 2×6 for one section of the house that cantilevers over the edge of the concrete foundation for exterior insulation—in that location he was unable to use a Tstud plate.

Photo courtesy of Matt Risinger

With regard to broken dowels, Marc says instructions for a field fix are supplied but he has yet to see it be an issue. “My observation is that it is not hard to avoid the dowels. You can stick a screwdriver through the foam to locate them. From an electrical standpoint, there’s no reason to break any. If someone’s breaking dowels, they are going at it with aggressive tools that are unnecessary.” Plus, he adds, in colder climates such as his, the only mechanicals going into an exterior wall are electrical, which can be run through the foam without threat to the dowels. Brad seconds that point: “In Minnesota, we rarely put any plumbing in the exterior walls—except an occasional drain/waste/vent system. It doesn’t surprise me that Brian Iverson’s company is in Minnesota—this product seems like a good fit for our climate (zone 6). I found a local builder who has built 15 Tstud homes in the last couple years, and there is a new home that just broke ground nearby that is using Tstuds.” (He is referring to Marc’s project.)

Regarding the potentially cost-prohibitive nail guns, Marc notes that larger guns, such as this one sold by Stanley Bostitch, are in the $400 to $500 range—significantly less than the $900 cited on the podcast. “If many guns are being used at one time, then a larger-capacity compressor would be needed,” he notes, “but on my project, the framers are getting by with a standard compressor.” Brad adds: “If we can eliminate the specter of the 4-in. nail gun, maybe [more people] would warm up to the Tstud.”

Tstuds are pretty new to the market, so availability is going to be a question. For this project, Marc sourced from Titan Manufacturing, an Ontario-based plant making and distributing the Tstud across North America.

Of course, Patrick has company in his naysayers’ camp, including Brad’s son, who has a unique worry. “He’s a molecular biologist,” Brad explains. “He is particularly concerned about the chemical process of forming the polyiso insulation [that goes between the dowels for the thermal break]. He questions whether it is formed in a way that is healthy and safe when installed—especially since it is inside the exterior envelope.”

In conclusion, Marc says: “I asked the framers what they thought of the system. They said it’s a little different and they have to think about how they are putting it together, but it’s not any more difficult than stick framing. One thing they noted is the straightness of the material. They said Tstuds are consistently straight and stable. They aren’t seeing twisted studs like they do on conventional stick-frame jobs, where they typically return up to a quarter of the studs. So that’s a lot less waste.” Despite this being the framing crew’s first time using Tstuds, they are moving along as quickly as they would using traditional boards; and all of the tools used for cutting members to size are the same.

Just as I was wrapping up this post, I heard from design-build contractor Mike Maines. I had asked for his thoughts on the subject because he is a strong proponent of eco-friendly building products. He adds this measured commentary: “It’s an interesting concept and seems well-designed. They are using the least-bad closed-cell spray foam that maintains a high R-value. The thickness of the foam makes it a more effective method than more typical Bonfiglioli-type installations [the assembly Patrick favors]. On the downside, if any renovations are done in the future, unless this product gains broad market penetration, which is possible but unlikely, there is a decent chance that the system will be compromised due to lack of familiarity. Any system that requires multiple trades to change their habits is asking for trouble.” (Of course, this last point flies in the face of Marc’s argument, and it’s worth noting that Mike has not worked with Tstuds.)

Clearly, there’s something about the Tstud that warrants consideration. This video by Matt Risigner has elicited 2780 comments and counting. But will it take off? Like most forward-thinking products, it’s a wait-and-see situation.

For additional technical information, visit DrJ's website at www.drjcertification.org.

For more information on Tstud™ framing system, read the following articles:

 

What Is Verified R-Value and Why Does it Matter?

Wed, 2019-07-31 19:40
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) recently rolled out a voluntary program to provide third-party certification that fiberglass and mineral wool batts and rolls comply with FTC labeling requirements for their stated R-value. We asked building science educator Joe Arrigo why it matters.

Fiberglass batts with verified R-value support a cost-effective Grade 1 installation.

The NAIMA Certification program verifies that qualifying insulation products meet their stated R-value. Shouldn’t that go without saying?

Absolutely. You should be able to trust that what’s on the label is in the package. But this kind of verification isn’t possible with all insulation materials. So, for the fiberglass industry to step up and voluntarily submit to third-party testing speaks to a very high level of quality and transparency.

How is that different from other materials?

One of the big challenges with site-manufactured products is the amount of variability. It’s just a lot harder to ensure quality in something that’s being manufactured by different people under different conditions each time. In addition to the knowledge and the precision of the installer, environmental factors like temperature and humidity can also have a big effect on some products. If there’s no way to test the R-value of the product that has actually been delivered, you don’t know for sure what you’re getting. With R-value certification, you do.

How does this affect builders?

Builders are looking for ways to meet tighter energy codes while managing their total cost of construction. So naturally, they want the most dependable results in the least time at the best price. Builders need to weigh all those factors in deciding which thermal and acoustical insulation products to use.

The Insulation Institute published a guide that compares the total cost per home for Grade 1 installation using spray foam, fiberglass batts, cellulose and various combinations. They concluded that using fiberglass batts is a less expensive path to Grade 1, even when accounting for incremental time to get it done.

This is especially effective when you pair the verified R-value of fiberglass batts with a quality-minded installer, such as an Owens Corning Certified Energy Expert.

Why does Grade 1 matter?

Grade 1 helps builders maximize their HERS points, qualify for Energy Star and many utility incentive programs, and obviously it has an impact on heating and cooling performance for the life of the home. Grade 1 is the guide from the manufacturer on how to install their products to get maximum performance.

NAIMA R-value certification for fiberglass and mineral wool batts and rolls reinforces the manufacturer’s in-house testing, so builders, installers and homebuyers have one more layer of confidence that they’re getting the performance they’re paying for.

 

Sens. Portman, Shaheen Sponsor Bill to Improve Energy Efficiency

Wed, 2019-07-31 19:36
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced a bill designed to improve energy efficiency in the federal government, as well as in commercial and residential buildings and the industrial sector.

© Shutterstock

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC) would use technology and employ a variety of low-cost tools to help energy users become more efficient. Specifically, the bill incentivizes the use of efficiency technologies that will pay for themselves through energy savings.

Residential and commercial buildings accounted for about 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Also, the federal government is the largest single energy consumer in the country. Improving energy efficiency in these three key sectors will help significantly reduce emissions and save consumers money.

“This bill is a win-win, creating new jobs and protecting our environment—all without a single new tax or mandate,” Portman said. “It would reduce our carbon emissions and give our workers in Ohio and around the country a competitive advantage by making our plants and buildings more energy efficient. It’s good news for the taxpayer, too, because it would make the federal government practice what it preaches and use energy more efficiently. And by saving consumers billions in reduced energy costs, it will help reduce the cost of living, ensuring hard-working Americans have a few dollars extra at the end of each month that they can use to pay for needed expenses, invest in their child’s college education, or save for retirement.”

It was co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Michael Bennett (D-CO).

“Energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to approach our economy’s energy independence,” Shaheen said. “This bill provides a path forward to making significant progress on reducing carbon emissions in order to address climate change. It’s a win for jobs, consumers, and the environment. Congress should seize this opportunity. Over the last couple years, the Senate has made incremental progress on energy efficiency issues, and I hope we can continue to build on those efforts.”

 

Atlas Roofing Adds to Sales and Marketing Team

Wed, 2019-07-31 19:33
Business

Hires Tracy Cook as Director of Marketing and promotes Stanley Bastek to National Sales Director. 

Atlas Roofing Corporation announces that Tracy Cook has joined the company as its new Director of Marketing, overseeing the Shingles & Underlayments and Roof & Wall Insulation Divisions. Cook also will guide Atlas’ overall corporate marketing strategy across the company’s Shingles & Underlayments, Roof & Wall Insulation, Molded Products and Web Technologies divisions.

As the first director of marketing to manage multiple divisions under the Atlas brand, she will provide strategic guidance and insight on all marketing efforts, ensuring brand consistency, developing new marketing opportunities and expanding strategic partnerships, including those with 3M Scotchguard and television host Mike Holmes.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tracy to the marketing leadership team,” said Steve Heaton, Vice President, Roof & Wall Insulation Division. “We are taking significant strides in our marketing efforts, ensuring the right people and resources are in place to enhance our strengths and further confirm Atlas’ leadership position in the building materials industry.”

Cook joins Atlas with more than 20 years of experience and deep expertise in marketing strategy, customer insights, trend forecasting, brand strategy and management. Prior to joining Atlas, Cook worked for nine years at INVISTA, most recently serving as the Senior Director, Shopper Innovation, as well as previous senior marketing positions with Mohawk Industries and Interface. She graduated with a B.A. in liberal arts from Auburn University and resides in metro Atlanta.

Expansion of Leadership Team: New National Sales Director

In addition to Cook’s appointment as Director of Marketing, Atlas officially announced Stanley Bastek’s promotion to National Sales Director for the Shingles & Underlayments Division. Bastek started his career at Atlas in 2007 and has held several cross-functional sales and marketing positions over the past ten years. In his new role, Bastek will manage national pricing and sales development, contractor engagement programs and distributor relationships.

“This is a very exciting time for Atlas,” said Kirk Villar, Vice President, Sales and Marketing. “These strategic investments to our sales and marketing departments ensure our continued growth and success, allowing us to deliver innovative products to our customers.”

These new appointments are part of Atlas’ continued expansion of its corporate sales and marketing footprint in Atlanta. In addition to the sales and marketing teams, the Atlanta headquarters houses several fundamental departments, including the leadership team for the Shingles & Underlayments, Roof & Wall Insulation, and Tapered Services divisions; pricing, accounting and finance; and human resources. Atlas’ marketing teams recently won multiple industry awards, including the notable Hanley Wood Brand Builder Awards for best product marketing launch and the best B2B marketing event.

With its acquisition of ACH Foam Technologies, Atlas now is the largest producer of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam products in North America. The company also continued its role as a leader of environmentally friendly building products with the launch of non-halogenated polyiso roof and wall insulation in June.

Atlas Roofing Corporation is an innovative, customer-oriented manufacturer of residential and commercial building materials. Atlas has grown from a single roofing shingle manufacturing facility in 1982 into an industry leader with more than 30 facilities in North America and worldwide product distribution.

All Atlas products are manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities and shipped worldwide from its network of manufacturing plants and distribution facilities in the United States and Canada. Atlas Roofing Corporation is made up of four major divisions: Roof & Wall Insulation, Shingles & Underlayments, Expanded Polystyrene and Web Technologies.

 

Insulated Metal Panel Performance Case Studies

Wed, 2019-07-31 19:20
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The Metal Construction Association (MCA) has compiled case studies of impressive buildings roofed with insulated metal panels (IMPs). Aesthetics, design flexibility, sustainability, ease of installation and energy efficiency are some of advantages of IMP roofing systems. Here are three recent examples:

Sports Arena Gets Top Coverage

Named for local high school football coach Bob Finley, The Finley Center provides a multi-functional space for community sports and fitness as well as convention and entertainment facilities to boost the local economy in Hoover, Alabama.

The project's modern design called for a dynamic, all-metal façade topped by 99,625 square feet of Metl-Span CFR insulated metal standing seam roof panels in Gallery Blue. The IMPs are constructed from recycled material and deliver a high level of energy efficiency to reduce HVAC costs. And construction was completed in time for the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Baseball Tournament, which hosts more than 14 college baseball programs.

Roofing for Robotics

Whether developing highly advanced data server racks for the military or educational toys to inspire the next generation of engineers, Innovation First International is at the forefront of robotics. The design concept for their Greenville, Texas headquarters called for a metal roof system in the form of Metl-Span's high-performance CFR 42 insulated standing seam panel.

The panels' sleek 2-inch standing seam provides long, even sightlines, further contributing to the project's industrial aesthetic. The panels feature an innovative weathertight vertical seam, which saves on installation thanks to fewer side joints. Factory-cut panel ends and factory notching also helped eliminate field work and erection costs.

Helping Electricians Save Electricity

With a growing membership, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local 1186, in Kahului on the island of Maui, needed a multi-purpose space for offices, training, and various social functions. They wanted to use quality materials, with a design that would allow for expansion.

A pre-engineered structural frame was chosen to ease installation. Kingspan's KingZip Standing Seam Roof panel's mechanical seaming process saved on labor costs and ensured superior air and weather tightness. Energy efficiency was optimized by three-inch thick roof panels with a unique joint design for excellent foam-to-foam contact, thus providing an unbroken thermal shield against heat transfer.

"IMP roofs beat competing products on weather-tightness and fire ratings, and they come in a myriad of colors," summarizes Jeff Irwin, Program Director of MCA's IMP Funders Group. "There's not a building project that wouldn't benefit from Insulated Metal Panel Roofing."

For additional information and commentary on roof insulation specifics, please read the full case study:

 

Foam Insulation Continues to Grow SF Market Share

Wed, 2019-07-31 19:09
Building ScienceEnergy Efficiency

The 2019 Annual Builder Practices Survey, which had more than 1,600 homebuilder participants this year, provides some powerful insight into the thermal products market in the U.S.

According to the survey, adoption of more stringent energy codes, homebuyer demographics driving the demand for lower energy bills, labor, and building material costs are prompting homebuilders to seek higher performing insulation that is also budget-friendly. Not surprisingly, these two factors seem to be tugging the market in different directions.

Source: 2019 Annual Builder Practices Survey, Home Innovation Research Labs

The good news is that foam board (i.e. foam sheathing) and spray foam usage has increased in recent years and now represent a quarter of the insulation usage in new single-family homes. Foam board share grew slightly, while spray foam share grew two percent. It looks like this shift occurred away from cellulose, which has seen a substantial decline in market share in new homes over the past few years.

Looking more closely at specific applications, spray foam’s biggest increase in share has occurred in attics with cathedral ceilings (now at almost 22 percent).

Fiberglass batts is actually experiencing market share growth as a wall cavity insulation at the expense of blown fiber systems, but batts have lost market share in ceilings. The opposite is true for blown fiberglass – down in walls but up in ceilings.

Foam board is still not a common wall, floor and roof cavity insulation. Rather, it’s growth has been through providing a continuous insulation solution as an exterior wall sheathing material.

To learn more about how foam board provides a pathway to designing the ‘perfect’ wall system, read the following articles.