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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

First there were the Etruscans.  Then there were the Romans.  Then there were the Goths.  Then there were the Medici.  Then Leonardo1and Michelangelo.  Tuscany survived the barbarians and the Black...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Marijuana grow rooms and commercial grow operations

Weed[2]…..we call it “weed” because it pretty much grows anywhere “in the wild”…outside.  Did I mention “outside” in pretty much uncontrolled conditions. Wow, have things changed.  Folks are moving...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

How to insulate mass buildings on the interior and not get into trouble

A building is an environmental separator. In fundamental terms its function is to “keep the outside out” and the “inside in”.  The outside provides “environmental loads” as does the inside. When...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Where did the term “punched openings” come from to describe window and door openings in building enclosures?

A little bit of history…back in the day the United States was known for its manufacturing prowess[1].  In high speed and high volume production “punching[2]” was and is the least expensive method of...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

“Joints and corners and penetrations” sounds much better in Spanish

…articulaciones* y esquinas y penetraciones...much more stylish…much more interesting than English.  The battle to control water entry is won at building joints and corners[1] not so much at...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

How can you take a system with thousands of years of history and screw it up?  Easy.  Keep improving it until it does not work.  Babylonians used it. Egyptians used it. Greeks used it.  Romans used...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Wash and Wear Buildings

The problem with flood damaged buildings is that the damage is done by dirty water.  Everything imaginable and unimaginable is in flood water.  We call it “black water” or Category 3 water...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Simple physics…complicated language

“Code world” is an interesting place where seemingly convoluted language is used to express simple concepts in clearly complicated ways.  The reasons for this are based on “legal” principles and the...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Magic and Mystery of the Water MoleculeIt is just shocking, just shocking that some molecules have a positive electrical charge and a negative electrical charge.  Water is a molecule with one oxygen...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Rain Screens, Claddings and Continuous InsulationIn 1666 London burned – the city, not a building.  It was called the “Great Fire of London”.  In 2017 a building burned, not the city.  It is being...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Rain screens meet snow screens and over roofing

The best strategy is not to have an ice-dam in the first place.  We covered this way back when (BSI-046: Dam Ice Dam, February 2011).  It is pretty straightforward on how to avoid them with a clean...
Very ColdCold
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Some folks hate foam insulation. The rigid board stuff, the spray stuff, the flexible stuff. They don't like the blowing agents, they don't like the fire retardants, they don't like the chemical...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Buildings and cities age – as do humans. Sometimes we get better and sometime we do not. Some of us eat healthier and get more exercise. Some of us do not. Some of us look better as we get older....
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

We continue to insist on putting ductwork in attics. It is a dumb idea from an energy perspective – a couple of HERS penalty points at a minimum - and we continue to see condensation on the ductwork...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

"If you want to save cash . . . flash""Don't be a dope . . . slope"We are adding balconies to everything and people are forgetting that balconies are more than decoration but also have to function....
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Huh? Blasphemy. Yeah, well, in some assemblies, it is actually a pretty good idea. The most famous "double vapor barrier" of them all is a classic compact flat roof. Check out Figure 1. The roof...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
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 InsightsNewsletters
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 InsightsNewsletters
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 InsightsNewsletters
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...

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