Published Articles

ECM Efficiency—Better (and Worse) Than You Think

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.

ECM Efficiency—Better (and Worse) Than You Think - Read More…

Future of Framing is Here

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.

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Moisture, Building Enclosures, and Mold

How water gets into a structure, why it doesn’t leave, and how these architectural flaws become HVAC headaches. This two-part article was first published in HPAC Engineering, December 2001 and January 2002.

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Mold Explosion: Why Now?

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.

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Remodeling for Energy Efficiency

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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Small House, Built Right

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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Water-Managed Wall Systems

Show water to the exit with a well-detailed drainage plane and flashings. Rerpinted from Journal of Light Construction, March 2003.

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Residential Ventilation and Latent Loads

Outdoor air is added to a building via a controlled ventilation system. What isn't controlled is the air change created by wind effects, stack effects and pressure effects caused by the operation of the HVAC system. The following article was published in ASHRAE Journal, April, 2002, pages 18-21. Reprinted with permission.

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Built Wrong from the Start

Top ten blunders that rot your house, waste your money, and make you sick. Reprinted with permission from Fine Homebuilding Magazine, April/May 2004, pages 52-56.

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The Future of Window Technology . . . Is Here!

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.

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Adhered Veneers and Inward Vapor Drives: Significance, Problems and Solutions

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.

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Measuring the Impact of Interior Insulation on Solid Masonry Walls in a Cold Climate

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 from Summer 2009, pages 11 - 17.

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Public Housing Breaks the Mold: Part I

Multifamily public and low-income housing have particular problems when it comes to moisture and air pollutants. In this first of a two-part series, we look at one particular type of multifamily construction: midrise housing. Originally published in Home Energy September/October 2001, pages 24-28.

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Public Housing Breaks the Mold: Part II

Here we explore issues unique to Veterans Era Housing and present three cases where moisture problems were successfully addressed. Originally published in Home Energy November/December 2001, pages 33-37.

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A Crash Course in Roof Venting

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.

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Foam Shrinks, and Other Lessons

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

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Field Performance of Unvented Cathedralized (UC) Attics in the USA

This article reports on field experience of unvented cathedralized (UC) attics in several environments in the United States. Traditionally, in some regions of the country, because of high water tables or the risk of flash flooding and lower cost, 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. The loss in efficiency in operation of the equipment and through duct leakage is no longer sustainable. 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.

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A Critical Review of the Use of Double-Façades for Office Buildings in Cool Humid Climates

So-called double-façades (DF) or ventilated façades, environmental second skins, etc. have attracted great interest as modern building enclosures. Numerous examples have been built in Europe but only a few have been completed in North America. 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.

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Air Leaks—How They Waste Energy and Rot Houses

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

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Eliminating Attic Vents

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.

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Measurement of Ventilation and Interzonal Distribution in Single-Family Homes

A multi-zone, single-gas, tracer gas decay measurement technique was used. A single-story, slab-on-grade 1350 sq. ft. house was tested in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a two-story, 3192 sq. ft. house with basement was tested in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The ventilation systems studied included various configurations of exhaust, supply, and balanced ventilation, with and without whole-house recirculation by the central heating and cooling air-handler unit fan. Some of the systems were independent of the central air distribution system, while others were integrated with it. In general, results showed that all ventilation systems benefitted from periodic operation of the central fan, giving excellent uniformity of ventilation air distribution. System without central fan recirculation showed poor ventilation air distribution for closed rooms where there was no ventilation system duct. This was first published in ASHRAE Transactions 2000, Vol. 106, Part 2. Reprinted with permission.

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Moisture Control for Buildings

When designing a building’s envelope and its interaction with the mechanical system, temperature, humidity, rain and the interior climate often are ignored. The focus for the building may be more on aesthetics and cost than on performance. This article was first published in the ASHRAE Journal, February 2002, pages 36-41. Reprinted with permission.

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Phase-Change Material Wallboard for Distributed Thermal Storage in Buildings

Development and testing were conducted for a prototype phase-change material (PCM) wallboard to enhance the thermal energy storage capacity of buildings with particular interest in peak load shifting.

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Development of Moisture Storage Coatings for Enthalpy Storage Wallboard

Two moisture-storage coating mixtures developed and tested between late 1990 and early 1991 could provide a low-cost, building-integrated method of managing indoor humidity in hot and humid climates.

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