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climates

Very Cold - A very cold climate is defined as a region with approximately 9,000 heating degree days or greater (65°F basis) or greater and less than 12,600 heating degree days (65°F basis).

Cold - A cold climate is defined as a region with approximately 5,400 heating degree days (65°F basis) or greater and less than approximately 9,000 heating degree days (65°F basis).

Mixed-Humid - A mixed-humid and warm-humid climate is defined as a region that receives more than 20 inches of annual precipitation with approximately 4,500 cooling degree days (50°F basis) or greater and less than approximately 6,300 cooling degree days (50°F basis) and less than approximately 5,400 heating degree days (65°F basis) and where the average monthly outdoor temperature drops below 45°F during the winter months.

Hot-Humid - A hot-humid climate is defined as a region that receives more than 20 inches of annual precipitation with approximately 6,300 cooling degree days (50°F basis) or greater and where the monthly average outdoor temperature remains above 45°F throughout the year. This definition characterizes a region that is similar to the ASHRAE definition of hot-humid climates where one or both of the following occur:

  • a 67°F r higher wet bulb temperature for 3,000 or more hours during the warmest six consecutive months of the year; or
  • a 73°F or higher wet bulb temperature for 1,500 or more hours during the warmest six consecutive months of the year.

Hot-Dry/Mixed-Dry - A hot-dry climate is defined as region that receives less than 20 inches of annual precipitation with approximately 6,300 cooling degree days (50°F basis)or greater and where the monthly average outdoor temperature remains above 45°F throughout the year.

A warm-dry and mixed-dry climate is defined as a region that receives less than 20 inches of annual precipitation with approximately 4,500 cooling degree days (50°F basis) or greater and less than approximately 6,300 cooling degree days (50°F basis) and less than approximately 5,400 heating degree days (65°F basis) and where the average monthly outdoor temperature drops below 45°F during the winter months.

Marine - A marine climate meets is defined as a region where all of the following occur:

  • a mean temperature of the coldest month between 27°F and 65°F;
  • a mean temperature of the warmest month below 72°F;
  • at least four months with mean temperatures over 50°F; and
  • a dry season in the summer, the month with the heaviest precipitation in the cold season has at least three times as much precipitation as the month with the least precipitation.

information

Building Science Insights are short discussions on a particular topic of general interest. They are intended to highlight one or more building science principles. The discussion is informal and sometimes irreverent but never irrelevant.

Building Science Digests provide building professionals from different disciplinary backgrounds with concise overview of important building science topics. Digests explain the theory behind each topic and then translate this theory into practical information.

Published Articles aare a selected set of articles written by BSC personnel and published in professional and trade magazines that address building science topics. For example, our work has appeared in Fine Homebuilding, Home Energy, ASHRAE's High Performance Buildings, The Journal of Building Enclosure Design and The Journal of Building Physics. We thank these publications for their gracious permission to republish.

Conference Papers are peer-reviewed papers published in conference proceedings.

Research Reports are technical reports written for researchers but accessible to design professionals and builders. These reports typically provide an in-depth study of a particular topic or describe the results of a research project. They are often peer reviewed and also provide support for advice given in our Building Science Digests.

Building America Reports are technical reports funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building America research program.

Designs That Work are residential Case Studies and House Plans developed by BSC to be appropriate for residential construction in specific climate zones. Case Studies provide a summary of results for homes built in partnership with BSC’s Building America team. The case study typically includes enclosure and mechanical details, testing performed, builder profile, and unique project highlights. House Plans are fully integrated construction drawing sets that include floor plans, framing plans and wall framing elevations, exterior elevations, building and wall sections, and mechanical and electrical plans.

Enclosures That Work are Building Profiles and High R-Value Assemblies developed by BSC to be appropriate for residential construction in specific climate zones. Building Profiles are residential building cross sections that include enclosure and mechanical design recommendations. Most profiles also include field expertise notes, material compatibility analysis, and climate challenges. High R-Value Assemblies are summaries of the results of BSC's ongoing High R-Value Enclosure research — a study that BSC has undertaken for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building America research program to identify and evaluate residential assemblies that cost-effectively provide 50 percent improvement in thermal resistance.

Guides and Manuals are "how-to" documents, giving advice and instructions on specific building techniques and methods. Longer guides and manuals include background information to help facilitate a strong understanding of the building science behind the hands-on advice. This section also contains two quick, easy-to-read series. The IRC FAQ series answers common questions about the building science approach to specific building tasks (for example, insulating a basement). The READ THIS: Before... series offers guidelines and recommendations for everyday situations such as moving into a new home or deciding to renovate.

Information Sheets are short, descriptive overviews of basic building science topics and are useful both as an introduction to building science and as a handy reference that can be easily printed for use in the field, in a design meeting, or at the building permit counter. Through illustrations, photographs, and straightforward explanations, each Information Sheet covers the essential aspects of a single topic. Common, avoidable mistakes are also examined in the What's Wrong with this Project? and What's Wrong with this Practice? mini-series.

Published Articles
Kohta Ueno

Double-stud walls insulated with cellulose or low-density spray foam can have high R-values; compared to approaches using exterior insulating sheathing, double-stud walls are typically less expensive, and have exterior details similar to typical construction. However, double stud walls have higher risks of interior-sourced wintertime condensation damage. Field monitoring was installed in a Zone 5A climate house with 12” thick double stud walls; assemblies included 12” open cell polyurethane spray foam, 12” netted and blown cellulose, and 5-½” open cell spray foam at the exterior of the stud bay. This article covers the results of this research, and recommendations for building these thick insulated walls. Reprinted with permission from The Journal of Light Construction, March 2015, pages 39-42.

Published Articles
Joseph Lstiburek

Three sprayfoam topics that might have you rethinking your decisions. This article was first published in Sprayfoam Professional, Spring 2014, pages 16-19.

Published Articles
John Straube

One-third of the energy you buy probably leaks through holes in your house. Reprinted with permission from Fine Homebuilding, October/November 2012, pages 45-49.

Published Articles
Joseph Lstiburek

And then it contracted. And then expanded again. And it did this over and over again. A simple title “Foam Shrinks” has opened up a can of worms that need to be addressed.

Published Articles
Joseph Lstiburek

What we learned from updating a 16-year-old deep-energy retrofit. Reprinted with permission from Fine Homebuilding, February/March 2012, pages 55-59.

Published Articles
John Straube

Over the past decade, Toronto's building boom has been dominated by tall glass condo towers. They've transformed the look of city skylines all over the world – especially here in Toronto, we've built more towers per capita than any other city in North America. But it may be a trend that puts style over substance.

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Published Articles
Joseph Lstiburek

Understand when to vent your roof and when not to, and how to execute each approach successfully. Reprinted with permission from Fine Homebuilding, Aug/Sept 2011, pages 68-72.

Published Articles
John Straube

Windows and curtainwalls are ubiquitous building enclosure components. Like all parts of the building enclosure, they have to meet the fundamental functional requirements of support, control and finish (Straube & Burnett, 2005). Reprinted with permission from Journal of Building Enclosure Design, Winter 2010, pages 12-15.

Published Articles
Kohta Ueno

Electrically commutated motors (ECM) in air-handler fans promise improved efficiency. But does improved technology necessarily mean efficient HVAC systems? This article was first published in Home Energy, May/June 2010. Reprinted with permission.

Published Articles
Armin Rudd

Since there are large surface areas of interior gypsum wallboard in nearly all new houses, the effort centered around coatings that could be applied to those surfaces. This article was first published in ASHRAE Transactions, Volume 100, Part 1, pages 84-90.

Published Articles
Armin Rudd

Most important, it was determined that small-scale differential scanning calorimetry can adequately predict (within 9%) the performance of PCM wallboard when installed in full-scale applications. This article was first published in ASHRAE Transactions, Vol. 99, part 2, pages 339-346.

Published Articles
John Straube, Christopher Schumacher, Jonathan Smegal, M. Jablonka

Adhered veneers, in which masonry units are directly attached to a substrate via mortar and ties without a drainage or ventilation gap, have become a very popular finish in residential and light commercial construction. Reprinted with permission from Journal of Building Enclosure Design, Summer 2009, pages 31-35.

Published Articles
J. Wilkinson, D. De Rose, B. Sullivan, John Straube

Evaluating the risks associated with insulating exterior masonry walls from the interior on a three-story school constructed in Toronto, Ontario in the late 1950s. Reprinted with permission from Journal of Building Enclosure Design, Summer 2009, pages 11-17.

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Published Articles
Betsy Pettit

Can a 150-year-old house approach zero energy use? Three case studies point the was from the 19th to the 21st century. Reprinted with permission from Fine Homebuilding, April/May 2008, pages 51-57.

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Published Articles
John Straube

So-called double-façades (DF) or ventilated façades, environmental second skins, etc. have attracted great interest as modern building enclosures. The DF label actually covers a wide range of different enclosure types. In most cases, a DF has three layers of glazing with ventilation and solar control devices between the outer two glazing layers, although some ventilate the space between the inner glazings. In most cases, the airflow through the glazing cavity is driven by natural buoyancy (hot air rises) aided by wind pressure differences, although some systems use small fans (often driven by photovoltaics). In hybrid systems, HVAC supply or exhaust air streams are directed through a glazing cavity before connecting with the outside. Reprinted with permission from Journal of Building Enclosure Design, 2007, pages 48-53.

Published Articles
Joseph Lstiburek

Today’s houses make it easier for mold to find the food and water it needs to thrive. The cure is a quick cleanup and smarter choices in materials. Reprinted with permission from Fine Homebuilding, December 2006/January 2007, pages 70-75.

Published Articles
Armin Rudd

By creating a path for air to move, structural vents are supposed to prevent the buildup of moisture in an attic. This article was first published in Builder Magazine, January 2006.

Published Articles
Joseph Lstiburek

Smarter strategies can save money, speed construction, improve energy efficiency, and cut down on jobsite waste. Reprinted with permission from Fine Homebuilding, October/November 2005, pages 50-55.

Published Articles
Armin Rudd

This article reports on field experience of unvented cathedralized (UC) attics in the U.S. Traditionally, in some regions of the country, slab on grade construction is a preferred mode of construction. Mechanical equipment for air conditioning and distribution ducts are usually located in the attic spaces to conserve space. Conventional construction involves providing insulation on the floor of the attic and venting the attic space to the outside leading to  loss in efficiency in operation of the equipment and through duct leakage. Insulating the attic roof itself and blocking of ventilation to the outside transfers the air and thermal energy controls from the boundary with the living space to the plane of the roof. The air distribution systems now fall within conditioned space, which increases their efficiency, durability, and maintainability. This article was first published in the Journal of Building Physics, Vol. 29, October 2005.

Published Articles
Betsy Pettit

Think $50 per square foot and $50 a month for utilities are unattainable? Government-sponsored research proves otherwise. Reprinted with permission from Fine Homebuilding, June/July 2005, pages 56-61.

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