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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.

Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek
A wall is supposed to keep the outside out and the inside in. That is the way things are supposed to work. Check out the “perfect wall” (Figure 1). We have our water control layer, our air control...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek
With the “perfect wall” we were here way back when (BSI-001: The Perfect Wall). The perfect wall has four control layers outside of the structure:a water control layeran air control layera vapor...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek
Maybe not. For years I have said that dog won’t hunt1. I have come around. The engineer in me likes tools. I can’t help it – it is a genetic defect we engineers are born with. With therapy we...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek
Sometimes the obvious is not so obvious. And sometimes the not so obvious becomes obvious. For example installing leaky ductwork1 in a vented attic is a pretty dumb idea (Figure 1). It leads to...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek
We have long wrapped our framed buildings with a “layer”. What we called it and what we make it out of has changed over time. And now the vapor permeance of it needs to be re-thought. How low can...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek
Vitruvius had it right 2,000 years ago: “…if a wall is in a state of dampness all over, construct a second thin wall a little way from it…at a distance suited to the circumstances…with vents to the...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek
Sometimes we make easy things hard. And sometimes we make hard things easy. With continuous insulation and punched openings both things are true.The physics is easy. A wall has to control water, air...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
Things have evolved considerably since the Eisenhower and Diefenbaker years. Hutcheon2 taught us about air flow that decade but it took more than a half century to get it right. We needed air...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek
For all that we know about roofs–which is a great deal–sometimes things can get confusing. I am more than partly to blame for that. I wrote a lot of the code language dealing with both vented and...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
Personally, I think the most beautiful floors in the world are wood. I like the look. I like the feel. Even Greenies like wood floors because apparently wood grows on trees.1Wood floors have been...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
So what does “net zero” mean anyway? And what is the difference from a “zero energy house”? A zero energy house is “off grid” and makes all the energy it needs on...
Cold
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
"linings and warmth . . . "1How do you insulate uninsulated masonry buildings on the inside? Carefully. There I go again with the obvious. It is trickier to do it on the inside. But it is often less...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
Chicago is well known for a bunch of things—among them a baseball team that does not win, fabulous pizza1, and uninsulated masonry buildings. The Windy City2 does not want to be known for its...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
Ballast is necessary in ships for stability, balance, trim and to otherwise keep them upright because the alternative is not pleasant. The amount of ballast necessary varies based on the type of...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate . . .”1In what is turning out to be an unfortunate turn of phrase the terms “unvented attics” and “unvented roofs” have entered the lexicon. A lot of...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
PrologueFolks sometimes ask me how do I know “that”? How could I possibly know that “that” would happen? I chuckle and answer “that’s because I have good judgment…and good judgment is based on...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
We live at the bottom of an ocean of air. Each of us is carrying around 14.7 pounds per square inch when at the beach in Miami1. We are powerful creatures indeed. Imagine carrying around 101,000...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
Putting ductwork outside is bad enough, but putting ductwork in an attic is even worse (Photograph 1). Attics are even hotter than outside during the summer and as cold as the outside in the winter...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
Life was simple when I grew up in Canada. Winters were long and cold, we had no air conditioning, walls dried to both the outside and the inside and the Toronto Maple Leafs would win Stanley Cups....
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek
When Mother Nature came up with wood it gave it magical properties that try as we might we mere humans find it difficult to improve upon or to transfer to other materials we come up with.1 One of...

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