Free net-zero webinar to provide ways to achieve energy efficiency goals in residential construction

Net Zero Demonstration HouseThanks to the pervasive use of sustainable building practices, the average homeowners’ ability to afford green homes and sustainable systems is finally within reach, as the cost of energy-efficient materials and renewable-energy equipment continues to fall. Case in point, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association the average price of an installed solar-power system has declined more than 50 percent since 2010.

Due to this attainable outlook, the U.S. Department of Energy says their ultimate vision is that by 2030, a consumer will have the opportunity to buy a cost-neutral, net-zero energy home (NZEH) anywhere in the United States — a grid-connected home that, over the course of a year, produces as much energy as it uses. However, this also represents a unique challenge for the architects and builders who will be tasked with creating, constructing and evaluating these climate-appropriate zero energy homes.

Enter CertainTeed’s newest free webinar, Net-Zero Energy Home: Design Strategies and System Optimization. The AIA-accredited online course takes place Tuesday, July 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.

houseJoin me as I explore Pennsylvania State University’s award-winning, LEED Platinum, GridSTAR Experience Center project, completed last year on the grounds of the historic Navy Yard in Philadelphia. During the course, I will cover all aspects of this net-zero modular building that was designed and constructed using a unique combination of building materials, construction methods, energy management strategies and renewable energy sources. Learning objectives include:

  • Design strategies for pursuing a net-zero energy home
  • Describe tools used to create, construct and evaluate a climate-appropriate zero energy home before and after construction
  • Understand how to manage and interpret hygrothermal and demand response data for a single family residential home
  • Learn how innovative public/private partnerships are being used to advance building science research

This one drew a big crowd when I first presented it at AIA a few months ago in Atlanta. Register now, right here for Net-Zero Energy Home: Design Strategies and System Optimization.

Free webinar and expert panel to discuss strategies for optimizing workplace acoustics

SoloOfficeHow does noise affect the occupants of the buildings you design? A growing body of research shows that prolonged exposure to noisy office environments can negatively impact productivity and job satisfaction. Daily exposure to common noise levels in offices—50 to 60 decibels on average—can result in lower productivity and more missed work days. Did you know it can take up to 15 minutes for an office worker to regain concentration after being distracted by noise?

Even scarier, studies have linked high levels of office noise to increased stress, fatigue, accidents and illness. And statistics show that when noise hits 65 decibels, the risk of heart attack increases.

These are impactful figures, and they represent an opportunity for architects and designers to positively influence people’s lives during the design phase of an office project. CertainTeed Ceilings will gather an expert panel of leading architects, physicists and engineers in the field for a discussion on these topics during a free AIA-accredited webinar on Wednesday, June 17, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. ET.

During the AIA-accredited course, we will cover the primary acoustic issues in office environments and why acoustics matter, along with strategies for:

  • Designing flexible spaces that maximize sound containment and meet the privacy needs of conducting business
  • Address acoustics in environments in which sound quality is paramount, such as multi-media training spaces and conference rooms
  • Minimize noise intrusion in office spaces near or adjacent to high-noise areas or city traffic
  • Achieve acoustical quality, enhance productivity, and maximize the worker experience in open-concept office environments
  • Remedy sound problems in retrofit applications

CertainTeed’s Building Knowledge Academy of Continuing Education is the industry’s most extensive and engaging collection of CEU course content. Our courses provide AIA credits and help architects specify smarter. Register today.

FEMA Flood Maps Can Provide Good Insight When You are Purchasing a Home

flood_insurance_01I recently saw a map of the New York City area as it would be after a sea level rise of 50 feet.  Some of the most expensive real estate in America would become an underwater attraction. It reminded me of the revised FEMA flood maps and the importance they can have for current and future home buyers.

If you are planning to purchase or build a new home, it would be wise to look at the revised flood maps to see if the area you are considering will be impacted by changes to local weather which affect all bodies of water.  You may have noticed that “the storm of the century” seems to be happening every few years. That little brook in the back of your property could become a raging river after such an event. As such, it is a good time to become oriented with the new “reality” and take actions to mitigate both your exposure and the potential damages from such events. Look soon because bad news early is good news.

Smarter Skins 2 for Higher Performance Buildings

CertainTeed is pleased to introduce Building Knowledge insights that are focused on the Canadian market.  This is the second blog published by one of our Canadian experts.

There is a push globally for all building codes, including at the international level, towards net-zero construction by 2030.  Europe, which is somewhat ahead of the rest of the world in energy efficiency, in pushing for mandatory zero energy requirements by 2018.

Canadians are experts in adapting to cold extremes, developing performance codes and innovative Building Skins solutions and, therefore, have many insights when it comes to achieving this goal. Accordingly, Toronto (See my previous Blog) and Vancouver are two of the top energy efficiency leaders in buildings in North America.

I had the opportunity to share building science insights to several hundred architects at Building Industry events in Vancouver and Toronto. In Toronto, the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) are leaders with their own OAA+2030 program and I had the chance to co-present with a leading Architect, Contractor and University Team; the Smarter Skins 2 sequel in 2015 (SS 2015).  We know it was successful; as Smarter Skins 3 is already planned for 2016! What are some of the smarter building skin solutions from SS 2015 that contribute to higher performance and most important provide sustainable habitat for building occupants?

Halifax libraryIt is crucial to assess sustainable innovations at the design phase. You can’t change the window/wall ratio, air barrier system, insulation, or gypsum wall assemblies during or after construction, so it is critical to get it right!

SS 2015 presented the key principals for building smarter skin solutions including a case study from the CNN eye-popping and award winning New Halifax Library.

Halifax drawing

 

What is the principal lesson learned for large glass buildings if we also want to achieve higher performance?  It is the need for better architectural design that includes Building Science principles.  In the case of the Halifax Library, behind the glass skin veneer 54 percent of the walls are opaque walls constructed with insulation and drywall (See sample detail).  Therefore, by focusing on smarter wall and window assemblies, you can have inspirational views to the harbor and higher building envelope performance at lower cost.

In summary, design and build with smarter skins and your customers will come.  The recently opened Halifax Library has been experiencing Community usage approximately two times greater than expected and patrons are being inspired by the views to advance their knowledge.  Blog readers can also benefit from more Smarter Skins Higher Performance Buildings insights by following My Blog and attending CertainTeed’s  Architectural Insights Symposiums and Industry Partner Events that share smarter skins knowledge.

If you are working on creating smarter skins for all types of sustainable buildings, I would be interested in hearing about your projects and the materials and system skins you are using. For example, smarter skins are essential for more affordable mid-rise wood buildings now permitted in most Canadian Codes. Together, with Smarter Insights, we will achieve higher performance buildings today for our customers and move toward the goal of Net-Zero Energy.

Tips for Architects from the 2015 AIA Convention

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton

I asked Lucas Hamilton, Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation:

What is the most critical design element that Architects need to be aware of going forward in the built environment?

There are challenges in the new environment due to changes in the building codes but the most critical is indoor air quality – both with regard to building air tightness requirements and materials development.

This could be offset or decreased in importance if product transparency actually drives clear and better materials over time.

All that product transparency is showing us right now is just how bad the things we are using really are.  But that’s a starting point.  When we start looking at the transparency documents that are available in the market today, we realize that the things we are using are emitting a lot of materials and are not what we would start with in an ideal world.

One thing that transparency does drive is organic improvement in our building materials to be healthier for us.  But until that occurs, we have to take the information available to us which is so much more than we’ve ever had before and begin to address the issues.

The challenge has clearly been put before us.  Until materials improve, we have to pay very close attention to the materials we are currently using and how they work into our indoor air quality goals because the benefit of haphazard or uncontrolled natural ventilation has been removed from our future.

Free Webinar Tackles Optimum Energy Efficiency Performance for Low-Slope Roofing Systems

FlintBoard-Polyisocyanurate-Roof-Insulation-CertainTeed-Roofing--Low-Slope-L-Sweets-514613The right insulation product and application method is fundamental to a well-designed low-slope roof system. Thermal needs of a building, energy codes, cost savings and insurance criteria must also be considered. For these reasons polyisocyanurate, also referred to as PIR, polyiso, or ISO, is the most prevalent form of low slope roofing insulation, specified primarily for use in offices, health facilities, warehouses, retail and industrial manufacturing facilities and educational institutions.

Learn more by joining me for a free, hour-long lunchtime webinar, Low Slope Roofing Featuring Polyisocyanurate, on Wednesday, May 27 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. ET.

During this AIA accredited, Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) course, I’ll cover the background and current best practices of insulation in low-slope roofing applications with specific focus on this closed-cell, rigid foam board insulation.

I’ll also go over the terminology and application basics of how and when it is used, including how to:

  • Define R-value in technical terms
  • Describe the two types of insulation based on R-value
  • Describe some of the features of polyisocyanurate as an insulating material
  • Explain what the industry is doing about ozone depleting substances
  • Describe some of the uses of polyiso insulation
  • Describe some of the physical properties of polyiso insulation
  • Describe tapered insulation and explain its function

CertainTeed’s Building Knowledge Academy of Continuing Education is the industry’s most extensive and engaging collection of CEU course content. Our courses provide AIA credits and help architects specify smarter. Register today.

CertainTeed Set To Inspire at the 2015 AIA National Convention

CertainTeed is in Atlanta for the 2015 AIA National Convention with a team of experts guaranteed to provide insights and inspiration. From May 14 – 16 at the Georgia World Congress Center, our experts will be on hand to provide building knowledge expertise.

This year is a bit different for CertainTeed.  In our booth (#4037), attendees will be able to earn valuable learning units by chatting up our experts.  Expo Chat enables architects to qualify for 0.25 LUs following brief, 15-minute conversations with designated subject matter experts on key topics including indoor air quality and acoustics.

Learning Lounge AIAThis complements our robust CEU courses in our Building Knowledge Learning Lounge (#4027LL) where attendees will earn credits for our subject areas:

Net Zero Energy Home – Design Strategies and System Optimization;

Integrated Window & Lighting Systems Help Meet Challenging Building Codes;

Transparency Docs: How LCAs, EPDs & HPDs support product selection;

Balancing Act: Sustainable office design from multiple viewpoints;

Sustainable Landscape and Residential Fence Systems;

Optimizing Classroom Acoustics to Overcome HVAC Noise;

Electrochromic Glazing – Dynamic Control of Solar Energy

We are continuing our Down with Decibels campaign and will have a “Roving Report” talking to architects and distributors and asking for their perspectives on acoustics in the office environment.

But our booth itself is a reason to stop by if you are at the show to take a sneak peak at the making of a sustainable headquarters. In conjunction with our parent company Saint-Gobain’s 350th Anniversary, we are transforming more than 320,000 square feet of office space in Malvern, Pa., into a new LEED-Gold certified headquarters that will also serve as a learning lab utilizing CertainTeed and Saint-Gobain products. Lucas Hamilton, manager of building science applications for CertainTeed, will be on hand to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the dramatic transformation underway.

So join us in our booth (4037) or, if you are not attending AIA, follow @CertainTeed on Twitter for real-time updates from the show.

 

CISCA Honors Inspired Acoustic Design at Construction Excellence Awards

This week the Ceilings and Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA) recognized construction projects from around the world at its prestigious 2014 Construction Excellence Awards gala in Long Beach, California. I’m proud to say that installations involving our custom ceilings products were among those honored. In fact, this year we won silver and bronze in the acoustical solutions category and silver and bronze in the international category.

Our award-winning projects feature ceiling and wall materials crafted by Decoustics, CertainTeed Ceilings’ custom acoustic product division. These projects brilliantly bridge form with function to create inspired acoustic design. Don’t just take my word for it though, see for yourself. I’m posting a few shots of these award-winning projects because, after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

 

Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus

Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus

The dynamic design of the Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus, Law School and Residence Hall in New York City includes unique curved and shaped Nuvola fiberglass ceiling panels, Quadrillo wood veneered acoustic ceiling and wall panels, and Claro fiberglass panels installed into a Ceilencio suspension system.

 

 

Statoil

Statoil headquarters

 

The spectacular dome ceiling created for Statoil’s headquarters in Stavenger, Norway, features custom curved two-inch fabric wrapped panels and a custom curved aluminum suspension system that masterfully mimic the contour of the vast dome and greatly improve the acoustics within the space.

 

 

 

Bridgepoint

Bridgepoint Health Care

The renovation of Bridgepoint Health Care in Toronto, Ontario, includes customized mini-perforated acoustical natural wood veneer ceiling panels installed in a Ceilencio suspension grid with custom butterfly clips. The wood ceiling panels span the interior and exterior of the building to create the illusion of open spaces while maintaining the heritage of the iconic 150 year-old building, which was originally built as a jail.

 

 

MinnesotaOrchestra

Minnesota Orchestra Hall

 

The beautiful and expansive renovation of the event space within the Minnesota Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota, features custom Solo acoustical wood ceilings and walls that span over 10,500 square feet. The redesign is just spectacular.

 

 

 

We are thrilled to have these CertainTeed Ceilings installations recognized by CISCA this year. Congratulations to all my colleagues and peers who worked so hard on these and other award-winning projects!

Free CEU Course Takes A Systematic View of the Exterior Wall

How can an exterior wall system help stymie chronic heat and moisture-related problems?

Find out by joining me for the upcoming CEU course A Systematic View of the Exterior Wall. This free and interactive session will be offered on Thursday, April 30, from 1 – 2 p.m. ET.

During the hour-long session, you will learn how to develop a plan that enables exterior wall systems Dutchlap_Res Iso_PD_MDWand materials to work together for the overall health of a house. Learn how proper design and installation of framing, sheathing, insulation, airflow retarders, vapor retarders and siding can minimize, if not eliminate, heat and moisture-related problems and be able to ask me questions

At the conclusion you will know:

  • What an exterior wall system is and why it’s important for the house and its occupants
  • The role airflow retarders and vapor diffusion retarders play in controlling the flow of moisture through the exterior wall system
  • How four kinds of insulation can best perform in an exterior wall system
  • How four types of framing materials and two forms of sheathing materials can effect the exterior wall system
  • How window performance is measured and enhanced
  • The importance of caulking, flashing and gaskets to the exterior wall system
  • Advantages and disadvantages of seven kinds of sheathing materials as each relates to the exterior wall system

CertainTeed’s Building Knowledge Academy of Continuing Education, is the industry’s most extensive and engaging collection of CEU course content. Our courses provide AIA credits and help architects specify smarter. Register today.

 

 

Breathe in, breathe out – do you know what’s in your building’s air?

RinaldiHomesDid you know that people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors? While most people are aware that outdoor pollution can damage health, many do not know that indoor air pollutants can have the same effect. Awareness is growing among North American homebuilders and remodelers about the importance of indoor air quality in residential construction and remodeling. CertainTeed is making strides to build partnerships that support the sustainable, energy-efficient products that enhance indoor air quality.

One of those partnerships is with Mike Holmes, a trusted contractor and long-time advocate for healthy homes. CertainTeed’s AirRenew® Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Gypsum Board is one of a select few Holmes-Approved products, offering a solution for healthier interior environments in residential construction and remodeling projects. Volatile Organic compounds(VOCs) are often introduced into the home by the off-gassing of new furniture, paint, carpeting and even air fresheners. AirRenew proactively absorbs formaldehyde and converts it into safe, inert compounds. Made from recycled material, it’s also GREENGUARD® Gold certified and can contribute to recycled materials and innovation in design credits for green projects.

Rinaldi Homes, an official Holmes Approved Homes Partner Builder, recently initiated a program that implements Holmes’ mandate in new-home construction and sustainable building. The program includes using specific building products, installation methods and building practices to ensure enhanced durability, energy-efficiency, resistance, sound protection, and higher indoor air quality – without sacrificing beautiful home design.

The upscale development consists of 26 bungalow townhomes situated in a private cul-de-sac in Mississauga, Ontario. The community showcases Rinaldi’s expertise in creating enviable, sustainable living spaces.

So the question is – are you happy with the air you are breathing in your home?