Fill in the search criteria to search the database or view index of all documents.

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
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.

Cold
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
Conference Papers
Kohta Ueno

Exterior insulation retrofit is a reasonable step if a recladding of the building is already being done for aesthetic or ongoing maintenance reasons. This paper presents many of the lessons learned from superinsulation retrofit experiences, including overall enclosure strategies, such as air barriers, drainage planes, and moisture control. Several case-specific solutions to particular problems are described, including exterior air barrier approaches, wall sill replacement, and several approaches dealing with window penetrations. In addition, detailing recommendations and economic analysis of these measures are presented. Hygrothermal simulations were run to evaluate the changes in sensitivity to moisture intrusion due to these retrofit measures.

Cold
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 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

If you take rocks and melt them and blow air through them you get fluffy rocks. And fluffy rocks don’t burn. If you take gypsum and make it into sheets you get “sheet rock”. And guess what? Rocks...
Very ColdCold
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Seventeen years ago we bought an old house—a fixer upper—over a hundred years old—in Westford, MA. I was going to make sure it would end up energy efficient. Did the rubble foundation thing well—...
Cold
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

It was the ants that finally did it.1 It wasn’t the shingles that needed to be replaced. It wasn’t the three-dimensional airflow network in the roof assembly. It wasn’t the lack of racking...
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 Digests
Betsy Pettit

The American Foursquare, a Sears, Roebuck & Co. kit home, was a staple of small American towns between 1908 and 1940. More than 100,000 of them were built in America. Homes built prior to 1980 make up 80% of the housing stock in the United States, and are responsible for a majority of the residential energy use in the country. All of the renovations used systems engineering principles to ensure good indoor air quality and longterm durability while providing deep energy reductions.

Cold
Building America Reports
Betsy Pettit

This Measure Guideline describes a deep energy enclosure retrofit (DEER) solution for insulating mass masonry buildings from the interior. It describes the retrofit assembly, technical details, and installation sequence for retrofitting masonry walls. Interior insulation of masonry retrofits has the potential to adversely affect the durability of the wall; this document includes a review of decision criteria pertinent to retrofitting masonry walls from the interior and the possible risk of freeze-thaw damage.

Building America Reports
Honorata Loomis, Betsy Pettit

This Measure Guideline describes a deep energy enclosure retrofit (DEER) solution that provides insulation to the interior of the wall assembly with the use of a double stud wall. The guide describes two approaches to retrofitting the existing walls: one involving replacement of the existing cladding, and the other that leaves the existing cladding in place. It discusses the design principles related to the use of various insulation types, and provides strategies and procedures for implementing the double stud wall retrofit. It also evaluates important moisture-related and indoor air quality measures that need to be implemented to achieve a durable, high performance wall.

Building America Reports
Honorata Loomis, Betsy Pettit

This Measure Guideline provides design and construction information for a deep energy enclosure retrofit (DEER) solution of a flat roof assembly. It describes the strategies and procedures for an exterior retrofit of a flat, wood-framed roof with brick masonry exterior walls, using exterior and interior (framing cavity) insulation. The approach supported in this guide could also be adapted for use with flat, wood-framed roofs with wood-framed exterior walls. This Measure Guideline demonstrates techniques for retrofitting flat roofs from the exterior, which is less disruptive to the living space and allows the structure to remain occupied during the project. It also illustrates a solution for preparing homes to become zero energy ready.

Building America Reports
Ken Neuhauser

This Measure Guideline describes a high performance enclosure retrofit package that uses mineral fiber insulating sheathing. It describes retrofit assembly and details for wood frame roof and walls and for cast concrete foundations. Exterior insulation retrofit is important to the goal of net zero energy ready homes. Mineral fiber insulating sheathing can provide enhanced moisture durability for the exterior enclosure. Mineral fiber also represents a viable solution for high performance home builders, designers, and clients who wish to use an alternative to foam plastic insulation.

Building America Reports
Peter Baker

Changes in the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) from 2009 to 2012 have resulted in an increase in minimum insulation levels required for residential building. Not only are the levels increased, but the use of exterior rigid insulation has become part of the prescriptive code requirements. With more jurisdictions adopting the 2012 IECC builders are going to find themselves required to incorporate exterior insulation in the construction of their exterior wall assemblies. This research is an extension on the previous research that has provided significant insight into the mechanics as well as long term performance of exposed assemblies that use wood furring strips attached through the insulation back to the structure to provide a cladding attachment location.

Building America Reports
Cathy Gates, Ken Neuhauser

Between December of 2009 and December of 2012, participants in a deep energy retrofit (DER) pilot program sponsored by National Grid and conducted in Massachusetts and Rhode Island completed 42 DER projects. Building Science Corporation (BSC) provided technical support to program participants and verification of measures for the program sponsor, National Grid. The pilot program required aggressive upgrades to building enclosure systems, implementation of ventilation and combustion safety measures and also provided incentives to upgrade mechanical systems. Thirty-seven of the projects completed through the pilot were comprehensive retrofits while five were partial DERs. The collection of 42 DER projects represents 60 units of housing.

Building America Reports
Ken Neuhauser, Cathy Gates

In this project, the post-retrofit results for 13 existing homes from the DER Pilot program were analyzed. Ten of these homes are single-family homes; two are two-family homes, and one is a three-family home. The information available for each home included pre- and post-retrofit blower door test results, a project description, reason for doing the project, and project cost information; and actual post-retrofit energy use information provided by the utility companies. The post-retrofit energy use for this project was for the 12-month period from August 2011 through July 2012 and for the 6-month period from January 2012 through July 2012. The post-retrofit performance and cost ranges provided by this research can provide concrete input for homeowners who are considering a DER.

Building America Reports
Peter Baker, Robert LePage

The addition of insulation to the exterior of buildings is an effective means of increasing the thermal resistance of both wood framed walls as well as mass masonry wall assemblies. For thick layers of exterior insulation (levels > 1.5 in.), the use of wood furring strips attached through the insulation back to the structure has been used by many contractors and designers as a means to provide a convenient cladding attachment location. The research presented in this report is intended to help develop a better understanding of the system mechanics involved and the potential for environmental exposure induced movement between the furring strip and the framing.

Building America Reports
Ken Neuhauser

This project examines the implementation of an exterior insulation and over-clad strategy for brick masonry buildings in Chicago. The strategy was implemented at a free-standing two story two-family dwelling and a larger free-standing multifamily building. The test homes selected for this research represent predominant housing types for the Chicago area. The retrofit measures are evaluated in terms of feasibility, cost and performance. Through observations of the strategies implemented, the research described in this report identifies measures critical to performance as well as conditions for wider adoption. The research also identifies common factors that must be considered in determining whether the exterior insulation and over-clad strategy is appropriate for the building.

Cold

Pages