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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

North of the Arctic Circle there are only two seasons—this winter and last winter. Who would ever want to live there? Being human, we can’t help ourselves. We’ve been there a long time. And, we are...
Very Cold
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

After one hundred and fifty years the Illinois cottage1 is undergoing some pretty interesting changes and the ghosts of George Washington Snow and Augustine Taylor2 are cautiously eyeing the result....
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

As in most things gone horribly wrong, it is a bunch of seemingly small things that come together to create an almost unimaginable nightmare—in this case the “perfect stucco storm.”Unlike most water...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Buildings don’t work the way they used to.1 Folks are always saying stuff like this. But let me make the case regarding just one factor and you decide. There are other factors of course, but I want...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Mold is pretty easy to understand.  No water no mold.  Any questions?  Well, there are a few.  For one we have more mold today, but we don’t have more water.  What’s with that?  We’ve always built...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

…. at Fulton and his steamboatHershey and his chocolate bar….OK, this is one of my all-time favorite songs.  George and Ira Gershwin.  Performed for the first time by Ginger Rogers.  But everyone...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

General Limit States Design, Hygrothermal AnalysisAt a basic level a wall is an environmental separator.  It keeps the outside out and the inside in.  Easy to say, not always easy to do.To function...
Very ColdColdMixed-HumidMarineHot-HumidHot-Dry/Mixed-Dry
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

If we don’t call things by their right names we don’t really understand how things work.1 If we don’t understand how things work how can we prevent problems from happening? Or how can we fix...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

If someone invented wood today it would never be approved as a building material. It burns, it rots, it has different strength properties depending on its orientation, no two pieces are alike, and...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Flanged windows and foam plastic insulating sheathing.Sometimes I don’t get it.  Why would anyone deliberately recommend a thermal bridge when it is completely unnecessary?  The window industry must...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Of course the crazy way we speak about the Second Law does not help: “In an isolated system, a process can occur only if it increases the total entropy of the system.” Huh? It makes you want to hate...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Energy security is pretty easy to get a handle on—don’t buy oil from the Middle East, Russia, Nigeria and Venezuela. We don’t need it anyway. We have plenty of energy right here in good old North...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Now I am a simple kind of guy. I just bet that a roof with a couple of hundred bullet holes probably leaked I wonder what all those holes did to the roof at the Superdome? Just asking.I remind...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

You have got to love salesmen. They figure things out way before physicists, usually before engineers and certainly before greenie weenies. Harry Tschumi and Les Blades,1 a pair of salesmen from...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Civilians seem to think that we have the technology to go into a space, do a test, and determine what is in the air. As simple as that sounds we can’t do it. We don’t have the technology.1 You...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

“gas separation processes and open cell low density spray foam”1Lots of attics insulated with open cell low density spray foam (Photograph 1, Photograph 2 and Photograph 3) are having problems – in...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Claddings and trim get the most stress imaginable next to roofing.  They get rain and sun and go through huge temperature swings.  Recognize these stressors?  The principle “damage functions” of...
Cold
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

It is not easy to separate townhouses and row houses from one another (Photograph 1).  And from garages.  And of course from the outside.  Photograph 1:  Row Houses – Beautiful until you try to have...
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

So what do you do when you have an old building and the walls aren’t doing their job? What do you do when the walls look bad, leak and are falling apart? You give them a face-lift. We’ve been doing...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

There.  I said it.  It just does not work.  OK, it works sometimes1.  But it does not work in tight building enclosures and certainly not in new houses, apartments, townhouses and row houses. ...

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