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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 Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

 I feel the earth move under my feet1To state the obvious earthquakes are a major threat to the structural integrity of homes.  New homes and existing homes need to be connected to foundations to withstand seismic activity.  Structural...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

 I, as an engineer, am born with a genetic defect….as all engineers are…the “efficiency gene”.  We can’t help ourselves.  The more efficient a thing is…the better it is…in our engineering brains….I love thermal resistance.  I love insulation.  I...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

But not necessarily stopping it…

Stucco over concrete masonry units (“CMU’s)1 aka “block walls” is a Florida thing….that sometimes migrates north.  We know a lot about how they work…but sometimes we forget…  And then subtle things are no longer subtle…especially when we...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

My pappy said, “Son you’re going to drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop framing that hot rod1 buildin’…” Have you heard the story of the frame wall race Where spruce and pine were settin’ the pace…The story is true, I’m here to say…I...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

My Spidey sense is tingling [1]Note that this is an “opinion column” [2]Work with me on this: In response to COVID, the CDC and others are now recommending a room air change rate of 4 to 6 air changes per hour (ach) with a MERV...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Hanging cladding – hang on cladding, cladding hang on[1]..Continuous exterior insulation is such an obvious thing to do….and we are finally getting serious about it…but we still seem to go out of our way to defeat its intent....
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Surface tension can cause all kinds of problems in buildings. Rainwater can flow around a surface as a result of surface tension (Figure 1).  The traditional way of dealing with surface tension is to “break” the surface tension with a “kerf” and...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Thirty years ago I said the moldiest buildings in the United States were air-conditioned hotels with vinyl wall coverings that operate under a negative air pressure….they literally “sucked”…. Not much has changed. For me to point that out is amazing...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

This has nothing to do with a pony or Nebraska1.In general there are two main types of fire issues: fires emanating from the interior of a building and fires emanating from the exterior of a building.The single most important design...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Don’t get hit by a wave1….Don’t get too wet…and…Make sure you dry…The best way to design for floods is to build in places where you don’t get floods. Yeah, right. We have gotten pretty good at predicting flood risk. The Federal Emergency...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Five Integrated Pest Management Strategies to Consider Pests include insects and animals that have a harmful effect on humans, food or living conditions.  Pests include insects, termites, ants, cockroaches, mice, rats and dust mites.  We are not...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Dirty Harry Does Insulation[1] “A good insulation always knows its limitations….” After all these decades thermal performance should be pretty non-controversial.  How complicated can it be to insulate a building and make it airtight?  The...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

One of the most common foundation approaches to residential construction are concrete basements.  They can be insulated on the inside or the outside.  The basis of all basement foundations is as follows:  Control liquid flow due to groundwater ...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Where Does The Vapor Barrier Go?You have a concrete parking garage under a building.  You have to insulate the underside of the structural slab between the building and the parking garage.  The structural slab is concrete.  This should be easy…but...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Liquid Flow Due to Capillary SuctionOne moisture transport mechanism that is often overlooked in building construction is capillarity or capillary suction.  Capillary suction acts primarily to move moisture into porous materials.  For example, a...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Sometimes obvious things are not so obvious.  And when you miss them, they can be expensive….and embarrassing.  And often the embarrassing is worse than the expense….”that was dumb”…”.that hurts”…and finally... “there is no way I am going to tell...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

We have hurricanes, we have floods, we have wildfires….It is hard enough to deal with these as it is…but when we also want high levels of thermal performance…We are going to look at roofs…not because they are easy or hard…but because they see the...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Wall assembly design and construction needs to consider rain, temperature, humidity as defined by the hygro-thermal regions, annual rainfall and the interior climate classes as environmental loads that affect mold, decay and corrosion as well as...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Conditioned Unvented Attics and Unconditioned Unvented Attics… but with Fiberglass and Mineral Wool…

Yes, we have done unvented conditioned attics before….but mostly with spray foam and rigid foam insulations.  But we do not have to use spray foam and rigid foam insulations.  You can use almost anything….as long as you follow a few rules.  OK, not...
Very ColdColdMixed-HumidMarineHot-HumidHot-Dry/Mixed-Dry
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Concrete slab-on-grade foundations should be easy to insulate…but they are proving not to be easy to insulate.  We were here more than a half decade ago (BSI-059: Slab Happy, April 2012) and again a couple of years ago (BSI-096: Hot and Wet But Dry...

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