Welcome to the inaugural tour of the real life Building Performance Workshop on our high performance homestead in Atlanta, Georgia! From the translucent walls and roof to the airtight, insulated and dessicant dehumidified Dry Vault inside it, everything here is about making the invisible dynamics of building performance visible. Stay tuned for the blower door test, infrared thermal scan, air quality testing, and much more when the Workshop is built!
Home performance articles and stories from the field with internationally respected building forensics guru Corbett Lunsford at the Building Performance Workshop. Hear new episodes of the Building Performance Podcast, see new videos from the Home Performance YouTube channel, and learn all about how diagnostic testing (more than an 'Energy Audit') can make home improvement and new home construction a proven process!
Filtering by Tag: green home
Home performance guru Corbett Lunsford explains 475 Building Supply's Intello air barrier with vapor variable control. See how you can ensure control over drafts, condensation, and air quality problems. Feel the difference yourself on the Proof Is Possible Tour!
From the beginning, we've planned on this high performance tiny house on wheels (THOW) being airtight. That's a no-brainer, and everyone else wants airtight homes too, whether they know it yet or not. If you want to see how bright-eyed and bushy-tailed we were when we started planning the Tiny Lab, check out this webinar on the HVAC design:
After airtight construction, the next important step is always making sure the home is VENTILATED right, with fresh air in just the right amount. Too little fresh air, and you get staleness, odors, condensation, and a deep-seated disgusting feeling. Too much fresh air, and you're flushing conditioned air down the toilet. The calculation for determining how much fresh air any house needs is called ASHRAE 62.2-2013, and you can see a simplified breakdown of that here:
And finally, you need to decide How Exactly You're Going To Do This. That's always the sticking point, and designing and building this tiny house on our own has taught us that all day, every day. The devil's in the details. So began our ventilation adventure, and we immediately talked with our longtime friends at Panasonic, who recommended three pieces of equipment:
- WhisperGreen Exhaust Fan
- WhisperComfort 20/40cfm Spot ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator)
- WhisperSupply 10/20cfm filtered supply fan
The ventilation strategy we were planning on initially was to exhaust air (20cfm minimum) from the shower (at the top right), which is only a few feet away from the kitchen (the L-shaped cabinet just below it), and supplying fresh air at the rear of the tiny house, in the underloft bedroom (at bottom).
We immediately faced a challenge with pressure equalization. Since this tiny house would be so airtight, the results of the blower door test would likely be less than 67cfm@50Pascals (2.0 ACH50). Without all the mumbo jumbo, that means that if I ran a regular exhaust fan in the bathroom or kitchen at anything close to 70cfm, I'd be sucking so hard on the house it would be as if a 20 mph wind was blowing on every single surface of the house (and that's a lot of surface- about 1000 sq. ft.)
Also, while the WhisperGreen bath exhaust fan can be 'manifolded' (which means connecting a duct system to the fan to distribute the air wherever you want it), the spot ERV cannot. A really cool MacGyver hack was recommended by Panasonic's technical team, which I think is awesome and could easily be done by anyone else per the instructions:
Although this is all very cool, it was deemed too iffy to work properly for the Tiny Lab because of all the customizations we're making with the on-wheels aspect, the tightness, the tiny size, etc.
To keep this story from being ten pages long, let me just say that we are now on our FOURTH and final ventilation plan. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Brett Singer and our favorite dehumidification guru Lew Harriman both strongly urged us to use a fully-ducted HEAT Recovery Ventilator instead of the ENERGY Recovery Ventilator (which exchanges both heat and humidity). We'll be fighting the humidity the whole way, since every shower, cup of tea, and exhale will add to the moisture in the tiny house.
Also, we all agreed it would be infinitely better to exhaust the stovetop gases directly to outdoors with an ENERGY STAR kitchen exhaust hood. We're keeping the pressure imbalances in check with a hole in the wall controlled with a mechanical damper that's activated by pressure imbalances.
Our final ventilation strategy is from our Product Partner BROAN, and we'll show you exactly how that miracle cure works when the system arrives next week! Thanks for tuning in, and for your support in these trying times. Whew.
I am not a contractor, but a residential homeowner that has become increasingly interested in owning (and taking a part in creating) a high performance building. After going through several series of podcasts, I ran across yours, and immediately loved it because you went into greater detail about the things that I want to learn about; so I want to thank you for the podcast.
Onto my situation.... I am looking to buy an older (1940's) home that has no hvac, next to no insulation, and needs a good deal of work; but I believe it has the best potential for making a high performance home.... a blank canvas.
What I am having trouble with is finding the local rock stars that can really help me make my house as efficient and comfortable as possible with my given budget. Do you know of any really good people in the Dallas area that could get me on the right track? Thanks again for putting out all the info!
Thanks for reaching out, Derek! I'm always happy to help, and I think the home you're considering is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY. A blank canvas is much easier to paint on, and when a house is fully 'finished' and has been renovated, it just means you'll have to dig harder and deeper to find and fix the issues that are lurking under the surface.
I'll hook you up privately with a few of my own black belts who are part of Fall Fast Track, but I also want you to know that when we take this show on the road next year for the Proof Is Possible Tour, we'll be creating a directory of pros who pledge to deliver guaranteed results across the U.S.! Stay tuned here for further developments on that front, and keep in touch about your high performance home renovation!
A need to run a Blower Door test at a 3 house complex here in Greece. The houses are in the row, this means that normally I should have three Blower door devices, in order to measure the house in the middle. But I have only one Blower Door!
Additionally, I will need to hand over a written document (report), in order to certify the construction to the Passive House Institute. Do you have any suggestions?
Best and thanks in advance,
Great question! You do not, in fact, need multiple blower doors, because you actually want to include the unit-to-unit air leakage. The measurement of all uncontrolled air leakage to outdoors and to other townhouses is a valuable one, and it should be the goal especially when building to Passive House (or PassivHaus) standards. Watch this video for a visual explanation:
I have been listening to your podcast and heard your request for ideas. You often mention the challenges in educating consumers, and I think my questions might be interesting to the non-professionals in your audience.
I just moved to Denver, Colorado and am considering purchasing a home for the first time. As a potential first-time homebuyer interested in air quality, moisture management, energy efficiency, and building durability, I expect that it is unlikely that I will be able to find a high-performing home at an entry-level price. With the expectation that I may need to invest in some retrofitting, I have a couple of general building performance questions:
Ascertaining current performance
Assuming that a first-time buyer probably will not have access to the sophisticated diagnostics described on your podcast during their search, what are some key things to look for that would indicate a high or low performance?
Utility bills can shed some light on energy efficiency, but how can someone gauge issues like air quality or moisture control?
Performance improvement opportunities
What factors influence a residential building’s suitability for a high-performance retrofit?
Are there factors that would influence the ROI of a retrofit for a modest home? And how could a homebuyer identify those?
Assembling a team
Do you have suggestions about how to assemble your team (realtors, inspectors, and appraisers) to help identify an entry-level home based on current or future potential?
What skills or expertise would you consider important?
Your podcasts have covered issues about financing for retrofits – so there may be nothing new to address here.
Basically, it would be great to be able to use a home performance lens during a home search to identify a property in which it is not too difficult or expensive to improve from decent to good performance.
As a potential consumer, I have enjoyed and learned a lot from your podcast. Thank you for thoughts.
The answer to this bass-ackwards question is: NEGATIVE DOLLARS AND ZERO CENTS. It costs LESS to build a high performance home, whether that means ENERGY STAR Home, a Passive House, a Zero-Energy Ready home, or any of a number of other green home certifications. Here's why:
In his first Fall Fast Track week of 2015, home performance guru Corbett Lunsford answers the question "how much more will it cost to build my next home high performance?" The answer to the question is as straightforward as the question is ridiculous!
Today Corbett talks with architect Chris Laumer-Giddens, half of LG Squared, about why he decided to tackle the whole pizza, what's wrong with the current models of architect, builder, and contractor, and what certifications like ENERGY STAR or LEED can and can not do for the industry. Sponsored by the Building Performance Workshop Online Training Portal.
Are you sure your home performance diagnostics are giving you accurate information? Join building forensics guru Corbett Lunsford in slapping foreheads when things don’t turn out quite as we expect in a number of home improvement projects in Chicago.
Today Corbett talks with Russell King of Sierra Building Science about the labratory of California, where they've been trying to whip and incentivize efficiency like nobody's business. Are Manual J, Manual D, Manual S, window placements and sizes, and a menu of prescriptive energy code requirements actually leading us toward perfection?
Today we talk with Sandra Adomatis, Appraisal Institute's green valuation expert and author of Residential Green Valuation Tools, about greening the MLS, swimming pool ROI, and the future of appraiser apprenticeship (which, yikes).
IT'S A PARTY! Today we talk about the universe of home performance in California with:
- Dan Perunko & Gavin Healy of Balance Point Home Performance
- Mike MacFarland & Brian Tyrrell of Energy Docs
- Natalie Freidberg & Scott Nyborg of Home-ology
- Caroline Veerman of Loisos Design
- and Judy Rachel of Green Achers Sustainable Solutions (that spells GASS, but she doesn't care- she's Judy Rachel!)