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Communicating High Performance Details

Wood Guy

Some of you have seen my posts about our BS* + Beer Show where each week we talk with experts in the fields of building science, design and/or construction. (*bs for building science.) We broadcast via Zoom each Thursday at 6pm eastern time and the recorded shows are posted at greenbuildingadvisor.com and on YouTube. It's a grassroots (volunteer) effort but we have fun sharing and learning from experts in our field. 

This week we have invited three architects who specialize in high-performance homes to share their thoughts on communicating the goals of high performance building to the field. The conversation may veer toward educating clients, code officials or others as well. Our guests are Steve Baczek, well-known in the high performance design world; Armando Cobo, not an architect but a designer in Texas who only designs net zero homes and has tailored his approach to relatively unskilled labor who don't speak english, and Barry Price, an architect in New York who works with passive house panelizing companies regularly. (I helped build his first panelized Passive House.) Only the panelists (this week, 3 hosts and 3 guests) will be on screen but the chat box is always active with questions and comments. 

Here is the flyer for this week's show: https://mailchi.mp/62f2692285b....

If you'd like to join our mailing list or learn more about BS + Beer, you can sign up here: https://www.thebsandbeershow.c....

 
Feb 8, 21 6:05 pm

I listened to /watched my first BS & Beer last week while making dinner one evening and it was so good!  I’m really glad you’re part of it, Wood Guy. Excellent stuff.

Feb 8, 21 8:52 pm  · 
1  · 
Wood Guy

Thanks Donna! It's a lot of fun. I started it as a meet-up group at a local brewery, to make friends and colleagues and to practice public speaking. Now with the Zoom platform and multiple hosts, I get to talk with the best folks in the building science world every week! And with multiple hosts I hardly have to talk at all. We're hoping to get Non's mentor John Straube on at some point. It's also fun to see local groups popping up all over; there are now about 15 BS + Beer groups, including one in Australia.

Feb 9, 21 9:11 am  · 
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atelier nobody

Do you ever get into commercial/institutional buildings, or are you exclusively residential-focused.

Feb 10, 21 2:34 pm  · 
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Wood Guy

Good question! Everyone involved focus on residential, so that's what we are familiar with and comfortable talking about. But I like the idea of branching out into commercial/institutional. Are there any hot topics you'd like to see addressed?

Feb 10, 21 3:29 pm  · 
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atelier nobody

Government agencies, particularly at the Federal level, are getting ahead of the industry in their requirements for high performance buildings. For example, UFC 3-101-01 (UFCs are "Unified Facilities Criteria" applicable to all Department of Defense construction) includes amendments to the IBC that will in many cases require hygrothermal calcs to be submitted to the AHJ for review.

Enforcement of these requirements is still a little patchy, presumably because the plans examiners themselves are not yet educated to review at this level, but it's coming. There will come a point (I'm guessing fairly soon) when every Federal government project will require either contracting with a building envelope consultant or else developing in-house staff who know this stuff.

Do we think the industry is ready for this?

Feb 11, 21 3:27 pm  · 
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Wood Guy

I understand the resistance to change, and I despise bureaucracy, but I do think we're ready for it--or at least we need it. As assemblies get tighter and more energy efficient they are more vulnerable to moisture-related problems, and they are often complex enough that intuition or experience aren't enough--you need a computer to help with hygro-thermal analysis to make sure the assembly is safe.

That said, for the last few years nearly every single time I meet with a code official, once they learn that I know what I'm talking about regarding insulation, vapor movement and related items, they end up grilling me for information. They are complex concepts and probably too much to expect code officials to fully understand.

But discussing this could make a good show. We had one relating to codes but it went a bit sideways, with a libertarian code expert arguing with the rest of us socialist environmentalists. I'd rather have a fair and balanced discussion.

Feb 11, 21 4:59 pm  · 
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Bench

WG, such a great series all around. I’m still finding it a bit high level for a junior staffer like myself but I’m certainly trying to acclimatize week by week.

Feb 10, 21 2:46 pm  · 
2  · 

Bench, I highly recommend attending one of BSC's Building Science Fundamentals seminars if you get the chance. If you can't attend or don't want to pay for it (I also don't know when Lstiburek will be able to do them again), check out the reading list on the sidebar of the website. It's a really good source of information for background and fundamentals. 

Having attended one of his seminars, it was really apparent those who'd done the reading vs. those that hadn't. If you'd done the reading, you were more likely to be engaged, able to follow along, and build upon the knowledge base the readings provided.

Feb 10, 21 2:58 pm  · 
2  · 
Wood Guy

Thanks Bench! I had a note from you suggesting we cover brewery architecture--on 2/25 we'll talk with a Passive House builder I know about a brewery performance retrofit he did, along with a retrofit to his own house.

Feb 10, 21 3:30 pm  · 
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Wood Guy

+1 to EA's suggestion--though I haven't taken Lstiburek's full class, I try to read everything they publish and have been to several of his talks. I also correspond regularly with his top researcher, Kohta Ueno, who is a deep well of information, and he's on our show regularly. You might also look into this course: https://www.buildingsciencefightclub.com/bundles/building-science-for-architects. It happens to be Lstiburek's daughter, Christine Williamson, but she stands on her own as an excellent educator.

Feb 10, 21 3:33 pm  · 
1  · 
Bench

Awesome!!

Feb 10, 21 4:54 pm  · 
1  · 

I've been following Christine Williamson on instagram (@buildingsciencefightclub). Her recent posts on air barriers and vapor retarders are spot on.

Feb 10, 21 5:57 pm  · 
3  · 
bowling_ball

She's really really great. And in understand she's actually Joe's daughter (?)

Feb 10, 21 6:42 pm  · 
1  · 

She *is* Joe's daughter ... "Throughout all of this I had the ultimate privilege of being mentored by the father of building science in the United States, who also happens to be my own father, Joseph Lstiburek." https://www.christine-williamson.com/experience.html

Feb 10, 21 7:11 pm  · 
1  · 
Wood Guy

We've had Christine on BS + Beer a couple of times. I haven't taken her class but I think you get a good sense of her teaching style:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfiRYQBU4_M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLab3gRnvF8

This was a good interview with her, including her talking about her dad: https://entrearchitect.com/pod.... (I may be a bit of a fanboy...)

Feb 10, 21 7:33 pm  · 
1  · 
Koww

can you make a high performance building that doesnt look like doo doo?

Feb 11, 21 12:23 am  · 
1  · 
Wood Guy

Haha, that's almost verbatim our plan for our next case study--a Passive House that doesn't look like a Passive House! We have featured a few high-performance projects that I think are attractive, including these:

https://www.bluetimecollaborative.com/sbh

https://www.atmospheredesignbuild.com/meadow-view

This one that we featured recently, one of only two Living Building Challenge houses in the world, may have less broad appeal but I think it's cool: https://living-future.org/lbc/case-studies/burh-becc-beacon-springs-farm/

and one we would like to feature: https://www.riverarchitects.com/ra-portfolio/rockquistph

Feb 11, 21 8:56 am  · 
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Do you have a link to the YouTube page where we can subscribe? 

Feb 11, 21 7:44 pm  · 
1  · 
Wood Guy

Yes, here: https://mailchi.mp/3e8e27ba8332/thebsandbeershow

Feb 11, 21 8:17 pm  · 
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Wood Guy

It was a great show tonight! (I can say that because I hardly talked.) Good turnout, about 150 people, and our guests covered a lot of territory. I know I'm biased but I think every architect should watch it. I guaranty you will learn something. 


Feb 11, 21 8:18 pm  · 
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