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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 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 that causes no grief as penetrating...
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 resistance. It wasn’t the lack of thermal...
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 mountaintop (Photograph 1). Ah, I love the rich people and...
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 assemblies that are like that. One in particular...
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 that a blower door actually is a precise measuring...
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. Insulation is better insulation than dirt. That is why we...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Decks are disarmingly simple. The ones we are going to deal with have conditioned space under them. They are nothing more than roofs that you walk on. But we tend to mess them up royally. Perhaps it is because we forget that they really are roofs...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Historically, so many problems have occurred with parapets that we have a name for it: “parapetitus.” They have a long history—which of course is not always clear—that allows me to embellish without threat of peer review reversal.1 Their...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Imagine a three-dimensional molecular billiard game with billiard balls that are sometimes sticky, and where the rules depend on where you are on the table. Then assume that there are many different types of tables and pockets of different sizes....
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF), the high-density stuff,1 is the only product (so far) that can perform all of the functions of the principal control layers of the “Perfect Wall.”2 The functions are water control, air control,...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

You can’t replace experience and judgment with lab tests and a computer simulation. But when you add lab tests to the experience and judgment and have an adult supervise the process, you might be able to get somewhere.One of the more difficult...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Ice dams (Photograph 1) happen when the outside temperature is below freezing, the roof deck temperature is above freezing, and there is snow on the roof.1 The warm roof deck causes the snow on top of the roof deck to melt, and the melt...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Double Rubble Toil and Trouble1“When you insulate your basement on the inside, the rubble foundation will freeze apart, and you will get swelling from the freezing soil collapsing the wall, and adfreezing will lift the wall so high you...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Hospitals are not fun places to work in, and they are not fun places to build and design or to fix and repair. The stakes are often high. Nothing is more sobering than when someone dies because of a mistake, especially when the mistake does not seem...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

I love cellulose insulation.1 In fact, I love all insulations. The more insulation, the better. There is no such thing as a bad insulation, only bad applications.2 But, it irritates the heck out of me when folks say stuff that...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Blue Hawaii[1]Hawaii is a magnificent place – except if you want to build there.  Huh?  What’s so difficult about building on islands in the middle of the Pacific?  Check out Photograph 1.  Waikiki Beach.  Blue water.  Blue sky.  Wow. ...
Hot-Humid
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 challenge try dealing with century old houses...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Canadians do live in igloos. Unlike the Inuit snow block version they’re typically taller than 10 stories and they are made out of foam. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF’s) are beginning to come into their own in many locations, particularly Ontario (...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Folks are always asking – “how come we seem to have so many problems with buildings today?” We never seemed worry about rot, corrosion and mold before. What’s going on? What’s different? Is it workmanship? Builders and contractors are pretty bad...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Sheathing does more than deal with wind. Sometimes it doesn’t even deal with that. It wasn’t always that way. We didn’t even used to have sheathing. We had a timber structural frame (or not, sometimes we just had rocks, or bricks, but you get the...

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