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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.

Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

"I've looked at life from both sides now . . ."~ Joni Mitchell1Walls can get wet from the inside, walls can get wet from the outside. Walls can start out wet. Wet happens. Because wet happens walls...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

“If there is a pile of manure in a space, do not try to remove the odor by ventilation. Remove the pile of manure.” Max von Pettenkofer, 18581Gotta love those Germans. Especially the really old...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Excessively high exhaust flow in a tight enclosure. Surely no one would be dumb enough to do this? Quick quiz. What is currently the most common ventilation approach in houses, apartments and...
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

One of the dirty little secrets that never gets talked about is that water leaks through building papers, building wraps and housewraps and runs down between them and the sheathings that they cover...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

To claim that something that has holes in it can act as a water control layer is a pretty interesting argument. It is both true and untrue.I have it on good authority, that for there to be a leak...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

I remember sitting around listening to stories my dad and his friends would tell when they were hanging around in the basement playing cards. They would laugh uproariously, tease each other, get...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

This all started pretty innocuously. I just wanted a client to have a warm floor. How complicated could that be? Well some seemingly innocuous code language made things irritating but not difficult...
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 is a beautiful building. Quite stunning actually. It is an embodiment of everything that is right and wrong with architecture.1 An orgy of glass and concrete. It is a thermodynamic obscenity...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Walter Payton[1] does PermeanceReservoir claddings are not easy especially with sun and air conditioning where it rains.  Pretty much everywhere folks want to live… It is sunny in Minneapolis and we...
Very ColdColdMixed-HumidMarineHot-HumidHot-Dry/Mixed-Dry
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Oh the games people play nowev’ry night and ev’ry day nowNever meaning what they say, yeahnever saying what they mean.Written, composed and performed by Joe South, released 1968.Sometimes in order...
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 Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

The Parthenon was constructed around 450 B.C. as a temple to the Goddess Athena (Photograph 1). More recently a temple overlooking Vancouver was constructed by the contractor Gauvin the Younger to...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

A hockey1 puck is 1 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter (Photograph 1). You can easily slip one into the airspace between a brick veneer and building paper. Now a single puck in an airspace like...
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 InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

One of the most difficult buildings to build is a building with a swimming pool because–wait for it–there is a swimming pool inside. It gets even worse when the pool is in a ski resort on a...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

As my friend Mac Pierce likes to point out: you could get a blindfolded drunk epileptic to cross Niagara Falls on a high wire without a net, but it wouldn’t be a good idea. There are some wall...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Folks are building houses and retrofitting existing houses with increased airtightness, and this is great. They use a blower door to help measure leakage, and this is also great. But then they think...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

This green roof stuff is getting out of hand. It is dumb to do a green roof to save energy. If dirt were energy efficient, we would call it insulation and put it in walls. It is just dirt....

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