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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.

Research Reports
Joseph Lstiburek, Terry Brennan, Nathan Yost

This article briefly repeats some of the information in the other mold articles but also includes information on how to prevent mold in residential structures. Mold requires water. No water, no mold. Mold is the result of a water problem. Fix the water problem, clean up the mold and you have fixed the mold problem. For more information, see Popular Topics/Homeowner Resources.

Research Reports
Joseph Lstiburek, Terry Brennan, Nathan Yost

Mold testing procedures were not developed to determine whether a home is “safe” or “healthy” or “clean." Although this article is titled "Mold Testing" it actually tells you why testing for mold is usually not needed. For more information, see Popular Topics/Homeowner Resources.

Research Reports
Joseph Lstiburek, Terry Brennan, Nathan Yost

Too much mold can affect the health of you and your family. In addition, mold can damage or destroy building materials such as wood or gypsum board in our homes. This article answers your questions about mold, what it is, where it grows, how it spreads, how it can be prevented. For more information, see Popular Topics/Homeowner Resources.

Guides and Manuals
Joseph Lstiburek

This pamphlet is designed for members of the residential construction and remodeling industries, as well as owners and managers who work in affordable housing. It presents building guidance for both new construction and rehabilitation, as well as...
High R-Value Foundation AssembliesEnclosures that Work

This summarizes an uninsulated basement even though the code requirements in DOE climate zones 4 and higher do not allow an uninsulated basement in new construction where the basement is conditioned. The uninsulated basement was included as a...
Cold
High R-Value Foundation AssembliesEnclosures that Work

This is another alternative to the minimum code required basement insulation in DOE climate zones 4 and higher. This construction uses a 2x4 framed wall against the concrete foundation with R-13 batts in the stud space. The slab is left uninsulated...
Cold
High R-Value Foundation AssembliesEnclosures that Work

This construction uses continuous R-10 or R-13 batt insulation on the interior of the concrete foundation wall. The slab is left uninsulated and the rim joist is insulated with batt insulation. According to the IECC, new residential construction of...
Cold
Building Profiles: New ConstructionEnclosures that Work

This two-story slab-on-grade enclosure is designed for Orlando, FL (Hot-Humid Climate). The roof features Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) and a standing seam metal roof. The walls consist of 6” nominal SIPs with fiber cement and brick veneer...
Hot-Humid
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

It is pretty weird to dig a big hole and drop a building into it.  A one story house with a basement is really a two story house that you dropped into the ground burying one story.  Think about it…now you have to make the part in the ground strong...
Very ColdColdMixed-Humid
Building Science Insights
Joseph Lstiburek

Marijuana grow rooms and commercial grow operations

Weed[2]…..we call it “weed” because it pretty much grows anywhere “in the wild”…outside.  Did I mention “outside” in pretty much uncontrolled conditions. Wow, have things changed.  Folks are moving growing marijuana indoors and sometimes...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Some folks hate foam insulation. The rigid board stuff, the spray stuff, the flexible stuff. They don't like the blowing agents, they don't like the fire retardants, they don't like the chemical companies that make them, they don't like oil. Some of...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

For all that we know about roofs–which is a great deal–sometimes things can get confusing. I am more than partly to blame for that. I wrote a lot of the code language dealing with both vented and unvented roof assemblies. Yes, the language is...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Personally, I think the most beautiful floors in the world are wood. I like the look. I like the feel. Even Greenies like wood floors because apparently wood grows on trees.1Wood floors have been around forever. You would think folks...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Chicago is well known for a bunch of things—among them a baseball team that does not win, fabulous pizza1, and uninsulated masonry buildings. The Windy City2 does not want to be known for its uninsulated masonry building...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

PrologueFolks sometimes ask me how do I know “that”? How could I possibly know that “that” would happen? I chuckle and answer “that’s because I have good judgment…and good judgment is based on experience...and experience is based on bad judgment…I...
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, never underestimate the complexity of the real...
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

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

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 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 (...

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