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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.

Research Reports
John Straube

The research reported in this paper is aimed at increasing the understanding of the hygrothermal performance of interior basement insulation systems by a combination of field monitoring of four assemblies and one-dimensional computer modeling. The work described here is part of a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) sponsored research program to determine the significance or insignificance of potential moisture problems due to an impermeable polyethylene layer in above- and below-grade walls (Wilkinson et al. 2007).

Cold
Research Reports
Joseph Lstiburek, Terry Brennan, Nathan Yost

This article briefly repeats some of the information in the other mold articles but also includes information on how to prevent mold in residential structures. Mold requires water. No water, no mold. Mold is the result of a water problem. Fix the water problem, clean up the mold and you have fixed the mold problem. For more information, see Popular Topics/Homeowner Resources.

Research Reports
Joseph Lstiburek

Builders for many years have put mechanical equipment and ducts in non-living spaces such as crawlspaces and attics primarily to save valuable floor space. Be that as it may (there are lots of good reasons for having this equipment in conditioned spaces, GIVEN proper attention to ventilation and pressurization issues), it makes perfect sense to condition these areas, for a variety of energy, moisture and durability reasons.

Research Reports
Joseph Lstiburek

This is a concise overview of the principles and steps to follow when dealing with water from the foundation to the roof.

Information Sheets

In climates where the average monthly temperature for the coldest month of the year goes below 45°F, the temperature of the slab perimeter may be below the dew point of interior air for a...
Information Sheets

Basements are part of a home, within the building boundary—despite repeated attempts over the years to disconnect them from the living space. Because of this, basements should be designed and...
Information Sheets

Keeping soil gas (radon, water vapor, herbicides, termiticides, methane, etc.) out of foundations cannot be done by building hole-free foundations because hole-free foundations cannot be built. Soil...
Information Sheets

Water managed foundation systems prevent the build-up of water against foundation walls, thereby eliminating hydrostatic pressure. No pressure, no force to push water through a hole. Groundwater...
Guides and Manuals
Betsy Pettit, Ken Neuhauser, Cathy Gates

The purpose of this guide is to provide useful examples of high performance retrofit techniques for the building enclosure of wood frame residential construction in a cold and somewhat wet climate....
Cold
Guides and Manuals
Building Science Corporation

This guide provides code requirements for basement insulation and clarifies whether building code allows for leaving insulation exposed in the basement. The requirements are based on whether the...
Guides and Manuals
Joseph Lstiburek

This pamphlet is designed for members of the residential construction and remodeling industries, as well as owners and managers who work in affordable housing. It presents building guidance for both...
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

How hard can it be to insulate a flat sheet of concrete? I mean you only have three choices – on the top, on the bottom, or on the edge. OK, you might have some combination of the three as well.Ah,...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Double Rubble Toil and Trouble1“When you insulate your basement on the inside, the rubble foundation will freeze apart, and you will get swelling from the freezing soil collapsing the wall, and...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Blue Hawaii[1]Hawaii is a magnificent place – except if you want to build there.  Huh?  What’s so difficult about building on islands in the middle of the Pacific?  Check out Photograph 1.  Waikiki...
Hot-Humid
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

It’s pretty easy to deal with new basements. They are not hard to insulate. The majority of them do not leak or smell and the buildings on top of them are generally not rotting.1 If you want a...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Water causes enough trouble by itself, but when we add salt we go to a whole different level, especially where porous materials are concerned. What is the deal with porous materials? Simple, porous...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Here is a pop quiz for you folks that are bored of Jeopardy. California is desert. Florida is a swamp. We build concrete slab-on-grade in both places. Which place has more slab moisture problems?...

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