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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 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

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

To state the obvious…controlling rainwater entry is the single most important factor in the design and construction of durable buildings.  Let me repeat….controlling rainwater entry is the single most important factor in the design and construction...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

We looked at exterior spray foam previously (BSI-048: “Exterior Spray Foam”, April 2011). Exterior spray foam typically is used in commercial applications.  Most residential applications use interior spray foam.  We are going to look at interior...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Problems with thin stone and thin manufactured stone veneer…aka… “lick and stick stone” …aka “lumpy stucco”…

An edited version of this Insight first appeared in the ASHRAE Journal.By Joseph W. Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng., Fellow ASHRAE The issues with stucco are pretty well understood and we have discussed them in detail before (“BSI-102: The Coming Stucco-...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

 Ten years ago (“BSI-024: Vocabulary”, October 2009) I issued a challenge regarding water control layers asking folks for ideas regarding a performance metric for water control layers.  I suggested that we might need a material metric or an assembly...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

So does the air control layer go on the outside or the inside?  How about both sides?  How about one in the middle? Do I want one water control layer?  How about two or three?  Yes, yes, I know…if you do it right all you need is one air control...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Everyone is running around sealing the outside of buildings and the term “air barrier” has gone from obscurity to buzz word in less than a decade.  But if you look at the physics we are sealing the wrong walls.  We should be air sealing the interior...
Very ColdColdMixed-HumidMarineHot-HumidHot-Dry/Mixed-Dry
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Where did the term “punched openings” come from to describe window and door openings in building enclosures?

A little bit of history…back in the day the United States was known for its manufacturing prowess[1].  In high speed and high volume production “punching[2]” was and is the least expensive method of creating holes in sheet...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

“Joints and corners and penetrations” sounds much better in Spanish

…articulaciones* y esquinas y penetraciones...much more stylish…much more interesting than English.  The battle to control water entry is won at building joints and corners[1] not so much at penetrations, but pointing that out...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Simple physics…complicated language

“Code world” is an interesting place where seemingly convoluted language is used to express simple concepts in clearly complicated ways.  The reasons for this are based on “legal” principles and the desire to be “non-proprietary” even though the “...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Huh? Blasphemy. Yeah, well, in some assemblies, it is actually a pretty good idea. The most famous "double vapor barrier" of them all is a classic compact flat roof. Check out Figure 1. The roof membrane on the "top" is clearly a vapor barrier. In...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

A wall is supposed to keep the outside out and the inside in. That is the way things are supposed to work. Check out the “perfect wall” (Figure 1). We have our water control layer, our air control layer, our vapor control layer and our thermal...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

With the “perfect wall” we were here way back when (BSI-001: The Perfect Wall). The perfect wall has four control layers outside of the structure:a water control layeran air control layera vapor control layera thermal control layerThese are...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Life was simple when I grew up in Canada. Winters were long and cold, we had no air conditioning, walls dried to both the outside and the inside and the Toronto Maple Leafs would win Stanley Cups. That all changed when we started putting plastic on...
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 need to be designed to dry. We can and...
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

 Walter Payton[1] does Permeance - Reservoir 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 have air conditioning and it rains...
Very ColdColdMixed-HumidMarineHot-HumidHot-Dry/Mixed-Dry
Building Science InsightsNewsletters
Joseph Lstiburek

Oh the games people play now
ev’ry night and ev’ry day now
Never meaning what they say, yeah
never saying what they mean.

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 honor the God of Building Science Hutcheon (...
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...

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