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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.

Videos.

Building America Reports
Armin Rudd

The following report is an excerpt from the 2010 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. The main focus for this research project is on the AAON heat pump system with digital scroll compressor and modulating hot-gas condenser reheat installed in the GreenCraft Builders prototype house in Lewisville, TX.

Hot-Humid
Building America Reports
John Straube, Aaron Grin

The following report is an excerpt from the 2010 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. The goal of this research is to find optimally designed, cost effective roof insulation systems that can be included with other enclosure details to help reduce whole house energy use by 70%. This report will compare a variety of roof insulating strategies and present their advantages and disadvantages according to several comparison criteria.

Building America Reports
John Straube

The following report is an excerpt from the 2010 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. Many concerns, including the rising cost of energy, climate change concerns, and demands for increased comfort, have led to the desire for increased insulation levels in many new and existing buildings. Building codes and green building codes are being changed to require higher levels of thermal insulation both for residential and commercial construction. This report will review, and summarize the current state of understanding and research into enclosures with higher thermal resistance, so-called “High-R Enclosures.” Recommendations are provided for further research. For more information see Popular Topics/Foundations and Slabs and Popular Topics/High R-Value Walls.

Building America Reports
Joseph Lstiburek, Aaron Grin

The following report is an excerpt from the 2010 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. This report investigates the implementation of advanced framing in both production and prototype built homes built in a variety of climate regions across the USA. The current industry standard wall is being replaced by a 2×6 frame at 24-inch centers with single top plates, two-stud corners, no jack studs, no cripples and single headers (and in many cases no headers at all). Advanced framing can save energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and money if properly implemented. To maximize cost savings and energy savings for the homeowner, the builder financial savings are best shifted to implementing more energy saving measures.

Building America Reports
Jonathan Smegal, John Straube

The following report is an excerpt from the 2010 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. Many concerns, including the rising cost of energy, climate change concerns, and demands for increased comfort, have led to the desire for increased insulation levels in many new and existing buildings. Building codes are improving to require higher levels of thermal control than ever before for new construction. This report considers a number of promising foundation and basement insulation strategies that can meet the requirement for better thermal control in colder climates while enhancing moisture control, health, and comfort. For more information see Popular Topics/Foundations and Slabs.

Building America Reports
John Straube

This paper describes a hygrothermal modeling study, including all of the US climate zones, a range of interior humidity levels and numerous arrangements and types of insulation. The results showed that so long as airtightness is provided, and wintertime humidity is controlled, numerous unvented solutions using either or both spray foam (open and closed cell) and fibrous insulation (cellulose and mineral fiber) can be successful. Climate, the solar properties and exposure of the roofing, the air and vapor permeance of the insulation(s) and interior humidity are the most important factors to be considered in the design of moisture-safe unvented roof systems. For more information about roofs, see Popular Topics/Unvented Roof/Attic.

Building America Reports
Betsy Pettit, Ann Edminster

Building America is a program of the U.S. Department of Energy, in which teams of architects, engineers, builders, equipment manufacturers, and others collaborate in a systems engineering approach to produce homes that use up to 50 percent less energy to operate. The Building Science Consortium, one of five Building America teams, employs an integrated strategy to achieve the Building America goals, incorporating advanced framing, improved insulation, simplified HVAC systems, high performance windows, and details that ensure durability of the homes. The consortium’s projects to date, totaling 884 homes, have produced in significant and measurable environmental gains. Click here for more information about Low Energy Buildings and Energy Efficient Retrofits.

Building America Reports
Building Science Corporation

The following report is an excerpt from the 2009 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. BSC has been active for many years in working to help identify and address code and standards issues that are a barrier to the proper use of technologies and products in the design and construction of high efficiency homes. Code and Standards manifest in many forms from improper code interpretation or employment, missing code language, or incorrect code language. Three specific building code issues were identified for action during the building code cycle application to the 2012 Model Building Codes and discussed in this report including their current “adoption status.”

Building America Reports
Building Science Corporation

The following reports are excerpts from the 2009 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. These prototype house project summaries include whole-house performance and systems engineering, construction support, source energy savings and quality control requirements and integration.

Building America Reports
Building Science Corporation

The following reports are excerpts from the 2009 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. These community scale evaluations include whole-house performance and systems engineering, construction support, source energy savings and quality control requirements and integration.

Building America Reports
Building Science Corporation

The following reports are excerpts from the 2009 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. These summaries are for the following advanced system research projects:  high R-value enclosures, ventilation effectiveness advanced system research, and dehumidification performance advanced system research. The following report discusses theoretical work done to explore the influence of air infiltration/ exfiltration on thermal performance, and a literature survey of predictions and measurements of below-grade heat loss through slabs and basement walls, as well as recommends appropriate R-value for these components in cold climates.

Building America Reports
John Straube, Jonathan Smegal

Many concerns, including the rising cost of energy, climate change concerns, and demands for increased comfort, have lead to the desire for increased insulation levels in many new and existing buildings. More building codes are being modified to require higher levels of thermal control than ever before. This report considers a number of promising wall systems that can meet the requirement for better thermal control. Unlike previous studies, this one considers performance in a more realistic matter, including some true three-dimensional heat flow and the relative risk of moisture damage. For more information, see Popular Topics/High R-Value Walls.

Building America Reports
Building Science Corporation

The goal of this project was to create a home with a high R-value enclosure, a right-sized mechanical system, energy efficient lighting, appliances, windows and doors, and also have the possibility of adding site-generated power at some point in the future. To ensure that solar-generated power could be successfully installed, the house was sited with a large south facing sloped roof. The high R-value enclosure was achieved through 4” of rigid foam insulation on the interior of the basement walls, the exterior of the stud walls and on top of the roof rafters. Many details (in particular, window and door installation) needed to be developed in order to ensure Habitat’s volunteer labor could successfully implement the critical water management and air barrier details.

Cold
Building America Reports
Armin Rudd

The combination of tankless hot water heating and solar hot water heating creates some challenges that we have been researching with our builder partner, Coastal Habitats/Coastal Green Building Solutions, Hilton Head Island, SC. Sending solar preheated water into a tankless water heater can cause wide temperature fluctuations at the domestic taps. The purpose of this research project is to design and install a solar hot water system that features a tankless water heater integrated with a solar hot water panel such that consistent temperature control can be achieved at the domestic taps. This report is an excerpt from the 2008 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report.

Building America Reports
Joseph Lstiburek, Alex Lukachko

Following the almost complete destruction of Greensburg, Kansas by a tornado in May, 2007, Building Science Corporation (BSC) was contracted to provide example house plans, support for the reconstruction of energy efficient houses and training for builders and trades. This report describes the planning, execution, and results of BSC’s builder training program in Greensburg. The end result of BSC’s efforts in co-operation with NREL, IBACOS and other organizations resulted in the exposure of dozens of builders and homeowners to energy efficient, affordable, durable and healthy construction techniques.

Building America Reports
Joseph Lstiburek, Alex Lukachko

Following the almost complete destruction of Greensburg, Kansas by a tornado in May, 2007, Building Science Corporation (BSC) was contracted to provide example house plans, support for the reconstruction of energy efficient houses and training for builders and trades. This report describes the results of BSC’s work to construct more than 20 energy efficient, affordable, durable houses in Greensburg, Kansas. Twenty houses have been constructed meeting greater than 40 percent whole-house energy savings compared to the BA Benchmark. The approach demonstrated performance benefits and cost savings such that the development group (Mennonite Housing) has adopted the technology for all of their projects in Kansas.

Building America Reports
Alex Lukachko, Joseph Lstiburek

This paper discusses Building America whole house systems research within the broad effort to reduce or eliminate the environmental impact of building and provides specific recommendations for future Building America research based on Building Science Corporation’s experience with several recent projects involving green home building programs. The four main recommendations include understanding the context, maintaining objectivity, engaging builders in green home building activity, and broadening scope. With due consideration given to these recommendations, Building America research is found to be well positioned to derive mutual benefits from continued involvement with green building programs to move the residential housing industry towards sustainability.

Building America Reports
Peter Baker

Given what happened in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina, changes in the way we build are needed. Looking to key sustainability concepts of durability and energy efficiency, new flood resistant design concepts were developed. A systems engineering approach was used, that considered all aspects of house design, to develop a house plan that will make these new design concepts reality. Durability upgrades affected the structural requirements, water and vapor management, and material choice. While these upgrades result in an increase in the initial cost of the house, material use and energy efficiency strategies were examined to offset a portion of the initial cost, and provide a means to pay back the initial investment over time.

Hot-Humid
Building America Reports
Armin Rudd

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America Program, a partnership was developed with a builder who had learned from experience that just building to code left a lot to be desired from an overall performance perspective. He came to believe that real value lies in implementing building science principals within a systems engineering approach to high-performance housing. A high-performance home will also reduce a builder’s risk of warranty/service call-back and customer complaint, leaving more room for profitability. The whole-house performance approach described here builds a framework of understanding that starts with principals that lead to evaluation of options, that leads to a coherent plan, that leads to quality execution of producing high-performance homes.

Hot-Humid
Building America Reports
Armin Rudd

The primary purpose of this field test was to characterize the uniformity of room-to-room ventilation air distribution under various operating conditions by examining multi-zone tracer gas decay curves and calculating local age-of-air. The tests were conducted in two Sacramento houses, and were designed to allow direct, quantitative comparisons of various ventilation approaches, which could potentially be factored into ventilation rate trade-offs in future updates to ASHRAE Standard 62.2. Analysis of the measured data showed that reciprocal age-of-air analysis worked well to characterize room-to-room uniformity of ventilation air distribution as long as the house was well mixed at the beginning of the test, and weather conditions were sufficiently steady-state.

Hot-Dry/Mixed-Dry

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