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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 America Reports
Robert LePage, Christopher Schumacher, Alex Lukachko

This report explains the moisture-related concerns for high R-value wall assemblies and discusses past Building America research work that informs this study. Hygrothermal simulations were prepared for several common approaches to high R-value wall construction in six U.S. cities (Houston, Atlanta, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, and International Falls) representing a range of climate zones (2, 3, 4C, 4, 5A, and 7, respectively). The simulations are informed by experience gained from past research in this area and validated by field measurement and forensic experience.

Building America Reports
Peter Baker, Robert LePage

The addition of insulation to the exterior of buildings is an effective means of increasing the thermal resistance of both wood framed walls as well as mass masonry wall assemblies. For thick layers of exterior insulation (levels > 1.5 in.), the use of wood furring strips attached through the insulation back to the structure has been used by many contractors and designers as a means to provide a convenient cladding attachment location. The research presented in this report is intended to help develop a better understanding of the system mechanics involved and the potential for environmental exposure induced movement between the furring strip and the framing.

Building America Reports
Ken Neuhauser

This project examines the implementation of an exterior insulation and over-clad strategy for brick masonry buildings in Chicago. The strategy was implemented at a free-standing two story two-family dwelling and a larger free-standing multifamily building. The test homes selected for this research represent predominant housing types for the Chicago area. The retrofit measures are evaluated in terms of feasibility, cost and performance. Through observations of the strategies implemented, the research described in this report identifies measures critical to performance as well as conditions for wider adoption. The research also identifies common factors that must be considered in determining whether the exterior insulation and over-clad strategy is appropriate for the building.

Cold
Building America Reports
Peter Baker

The use of exterior insulation is an effective means to increase the overall thermal resistance of wall assemblies that also has other advantages of improved water management and often increased air tightness of the building. However, the engineering basis and support for this work has not been conducted, resulting in obstacles for building official and building code acceptance. Additionally, the water management and integration of window systems, door systems, decks, balconies, and roof-wall intersections have not been adequately developed. This research project developed baseline engineering analysis to support the installation of thick layers of exterior insulation (2” to 8”) on existing masonry walls and wood framed walls and as well as relevant water management details.

Building America Reports
Ken Neuhauser

Through discussion of five case studies (test homes), this project evaluates strategies to elevate the performance of existing homes to a level commensurate with best-in-class implementation of high performance new construction homes. The test homes featured in this research activity participated in Deep Energy Retrofit (DER) Pilot Program sponsored by the electric and gas utility National Grid in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Retrofit strategies are evaluated for impact on durability and indoor air quality in addition to energy performance.

Cold
Building America Reports
Rosie Osser, Ken Neuhauser, Kohta Ueno

Building Science Corporation seeks to further the energy efficiency market for cold climate, New England area retrofits by supporting projects based on solid building science fundamentals and verified implementation. The utility company National Grid engaged BSC as a partner to develop guidelines for its Deep Energy Retrofit Pilot Program. In addition to guideline development, BSC has acted as a consultant for these projects and others following similar retrofit strategies. Costs of each project are presented, with an attempt to isolate the costs of measures specific to DERs and not regular home maintenance and aesthetic upgrades. Finally, occupant feedback from the retrofits is discussed to determine overall satisfaction with the retrofit efforts. For more information about retrofits, see Popular Topics/High R-value Retrofits.

Cold
Building America Reports
John Straube

The following report is an excerpt from the 2010 Building Science Corporation Industry Team Building America Annual Report. Many concerns, including the rising cost of energy, climate change concerns, and demands for increased comfort, have led to the desire for increased insulation levels in many new and existing buildings. Building codes and green building codes are being changed to require higher levels of thermal insulation both for residential and commercial construction. This report will review, and summarize the current state of understanding and research into enclosures with higher thermal resistance, so-called “High-R Enclosures.” Recommendations are provided for further research. For more information see Popular Topics/Foundations and Slabs and Popular Topics/High R-Value Walls.

Building America Reports
John Straube, Jonathan Smegal

Many concerns, including the rising cost of energy, climate change concerns, and demands for increased comfort, have lead to the desire for increased insulation levels in many new and existing buildings. More building codes are being modified to require higher levels of thermal control than ever before. This report considers a number of promising wall systems that can meet the requirement for better thermal control. Unlike previous studies, this one considers performance in a more realistic matter, including some true three-dimensional heat flow and the relative risk of moisture damage. For more information, see Popular Topics/High R-Value Walls.

Building America Reports
Building Science Corporation

The goal of this project was to create a home with a high R-value enclosure, a right-sized mechanical system, energy efficient lighting, appliances, windows and doors, and also have the possibility of adding site-generated power at some point in the future. To ensure that solar-generated power could be successfully installed, the house was sited with a large south facing sloped roof. The high R-value enclosure was achieved through 4” of rigid foam insulation on the interior of the basement walls, the exterior of the stud walls and on top of the roof rafters. Many details (in particular, window and door installation) needed to be developed in order to ensure Habitat’s volunteer labor could successfully implement the critical water management and air barrier details.

Cold

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