Performance versus Prescriptive Compliance for Meeting Energy Codes

During some recent travels to work with builders, I spent time with a builder who was in the process of constructing walls and building envelopes with very little R value. These were thermal mass walls but with little R value. The builder was meeting the state energy building code through the performance path, which allows for more design freedom but involves more complex energy simulations and tradeoffs between systems, by using a highly engineered, very sophisticated, very expensive, high efficiency heating and air conditioning system.

The building when it’s completed will meet the code and the intent of the code which is to reduce energy consumption.  However, the weakness of this approach is that the equipment which is being used to meet the energy reduction goal codes will eventually wear out.  When that time comes, the owners of the building will be able to replace this high end equipment with a less expensive option since they are not under the jurisdiction or ‘watch’ of the building inspectors. This will decrease the energy efficiency of the building and possibly compromise its building code compliance.

This is one of the good things about the prescriptive path to the building code – that the elements that we choose, when properly installed, will meet the code and goals of energy reduction for the long term.  Things like thermal insulation when installed during the initial construction will always be in place, will always work and will never wear out. It will continue to perform over the life of the structure.

So while it is good to have options, remember not all options will give you the desired result over the life of the structure and that is worrisome.

 

Free Continuing Education Webinar: Acoustical Ceilings for the Eye, the Ear and the Mind

CTC_TCH_case study_409x240Unwanted noise in interior spaces can profoundly impact the way people work, learn and heal in the built environment. Well-designed interior spaces are key to combating this serious problem. Choosing the right ceiling panel material for a project makes a huge difference in managing the acoustical response of a room.

Studies also show that natural light that is more evenly distributed in a room can increase productivity. Ceilings manufactured with light reflectance properties can have a positive impact on the comfort of a room and decrease electrical costs.

To learn more, join our Building Knowledge Academy of Continuing Education (ACE) this Tuesday, December 16, from 1 – 2 p.m. ET, for a free educational webinar on acoustical ceilings. The course provides an overview of the principles of sound attenuation and light reflectance and can count toward CEU credits.

Robert Marshall, Manager for Marketing Technical Services for CertainTeed Ceilings, who has extensive experience with acoustical ceilings as a private contractor and now in the manufacturing sector, will lead the webinar. During this engaging discussion, you will learn:

  • The main properties of acoustical ceilings, their function and performance, and how they are tied to positive outcomes in healthcare facilities, schools and places of business.
  • How to calculate the Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) when determining the acoustical performance of a product and compare acoustical materials as they relate to sound absorption and frequency.
  • The Luminous Reflectance Factor of acoustical materials as it relates to sustainable work environments.

Click here to register.

The CertainTeed Building Knowledge ACE program offers the industry’s most extensive and engaging collection of CEU courses available. Its breadth of educational courses provides architects, specifiers and others in the building industry with knowledge and skills needed to specify products smarter.

We hope you will join us for this informative session.

Green Thought Leader Ted Winslow, brand product manager, CertainTeed Insulation

While at Greenbuild 2014, we asked our technical thought leaders the following question:

What is the most compelling thing happening in your universe with regard to sustainability? Ted Winslow, Brand Product Manager – Building Science, Systems & Technical Marketing, Insulation

???????????????????????????????The most compelling thing for me in regards to sustainability is seeing the evolution of how people are thinking of sustainability and energy efficiency. It is not just a one-stop solution and it is not about specific products. They want to have a holistic, systems approach to solving problems and want to know and understand how systems will impact the habitat as a whole. For example, if you increase the insulation in a building and make it tighter, how does that impact other things like moisture management? People are starting to realize that no matter how tight or impenetrable you build a building – moisture, for instance, will still potentially find a way in and what will need to be done to resolve the problem?

When you are dealing with a systems approach, each system created will be different depending on the needs for the structure. The possibilities are endless.

 

Green Thought Leader Helen Sanders, vice president, Technical Business Development, Sage Electrochromics

While at Greenbuild 2014, we asked our technical thought leaders the following question:

What is the most compelling thing happening in your universe with regard to sustainability?

Helen_Sanders_cropFor me the most compelling thing with regard to sustainability is the recognition of the human impact of day light. It is important for buildings to allow enough day light in but not to the point of being uncomfortable for the people inside. Day light is good for your health. It has been scientifically proven that if you don’t have enough day light at the right times of the day it can have significant health impacts such as increases in cancers, weight gain and mood disorders.

The design of buildings for the admission of day light is a 21st century imperative. We’ve got to try to design our buildings differently. In the 70’s and 80’s we started to build these massive footprints of buildings where very few people could be near a window. We did that because electricity was inexpensive so it allowed us to build bigger. Now we are seeing the downside of that from a health perspective. We’ve got to start doing something different with our building design to improve and harnass day light.

Green Thought Leaders – Robert Marshall, manager, marketing technical services, CertainTeed Ceilings

While at Greenbuild 2014, we asked our technical thought leaders the following question:

What is the most compelling thing happening in your universe with regard to sustainability?

I think the most compelling thing is the marketing of transparency. Five years ago all the issues that we talk about in transparency, had we had them at that point in time, we couldn’t have given this information away.  But today because of the inclusion in LEED, the references to transparency that are now part of Version 4, everybody we go to visit, either knows about it and wants to know if we have it or has heard about it and wants us to tell them about it.

It has opened up a whole new avenue for us. For CertainTeed and Saint-Gobain, we have a corporate-wide movement toward a transparency that is unprecedented from a global perspective that will trickle down to all our divisions.  At some point, there will be Life Cycle Assessments, Certified Environmental Product Declarations and Health Product Declarations that will be part and parcel of everything that we sell.

Green Thought Leaders – Drew Brandt, vice president, Marketing for CertainTeed Insulation

While at Greenbuild 2014, we asked our technical thought leaders the following question:

What is the most compelling thing happening in your universe with regard to sustainability?

Drew Brandt 3When you look at sustainability you are looking at the structure itself – the longevity, the life, how it works – things are becoming systems. It’s not about individual products anymore so as you pull the systems together you have to understand how they operate together. Permeance is extremely important. As you look at air tightness with regard to moisture management, we now have to manage the moisture flow within that house. As moisture is generated inside and you need to get the moisture out of the house. You also have to make sure that moisture is not coming into the house from the outside.

Air tightness and moisture management are the most critical aspects of building design right now when it comes to sustainability. It affects everything from the products that are used to build the house, the comfort of the homeowners, and how the overall systems work.

A Sustainable Behemoth Part II – Quantifying the Recycling of Removed Materials During Deconstruction

DSCN3647This is the second blog in a series I am doing about the construction of our new headquarters which will be a ‘living lab’ for our products.

Work on our new headquarters in Malvern, PA is moving extremely fast.  I would say faster than any of us thought possible. The exterior glass is being installed on the building and the goal of being ‘under roof’ before winter is certainly within our reach.

But before we could install the new exterior with Saint-Gobain glass products, the deconstruction of the building needed to take place and all of the materials coming off the building that can be recycled needed to be cataloged.

The building is being built to several different sustainability standards, including LEED, most of which require that we make an accurate accounting of the recycling efforts going into the deconstruction phase.  All the glass and steel, as it comes off the building, needs to be quantified and accounted for.  This information will be used for validation of our goals for recycling the existing building.

The speed, accuracy and the accounting for all the materials that can be recycled was simply amazing given the size of the building. This was not only done quickly but cleanly.

Phase I complete!

If you are attending Greenbuild this week stop by our booth #1413 and see this project, the products and speak to the architects and technical staff working on the building.

Specifiers Unite: Free Webinar on Comfortable Environments through Sustainable Design

Sustainable design, indoor air quality, controlled ventilation and thermal comfort are the topics du jour for a free webinar led by building scientist Lucas Hamilton on October 1 at 2 p.m. EST. While many of CertainTeed’s courses are offered through the Academy of Continuing Education, we are delighted to team up with the Construction Specification Institute (CSI) for this webinar, titled “Commercial Building Design: Comfortable Environments Through Sustainable Design.”

The presentation will review core principles of sustainable design and describe green building concepts and rating systems. Participants will learn ways to improve indoor air quality through controlled ventilation and material selection and how to create superior acoustical environments through sound control design practices.

More specifically, the learning objectives include:

  • Explain the concepts of green building through sustainable design and describe the three principles of sustainable design.
  • Understand credit categories for a green building rating system.
  • Describe several factors affecting thermal comfort.
  • Understand ways to improve indoor air quality through controlled ventilation and material selection.
  • Explain how to create superior acoustical environments through sound control design practices.
  • Review design strategies that help create a high quality visual environment.

To join the conversation, register here.

Builder Beware: Code Changes Require Cover Up of Exposed Beams

download (1)Recently at an event where I was giving a continuing education presentation, I sat in on a presentation given by a manufacturer of wood framing materials. We usually talk in terms of dimensional framing (2×4 or 2×12) lumber as opposed to manufactured wood framing materials.

Today it is common practice to use manufactured wood products such as TJI’s (Truss Joist I-Beams–) These have become very common and popular because they are straight and flat while a 2 x 12 is a natural piece of wood that can warp and twist and then needs to be straightened out at the jobsite. Manufactured wood has gained in popularity because of these properties and others.

However, in fires, manufactured wood burns differently than traditional dimensional framing products. This can be a problem because very often, at the homeowner’s request, builders will leave the basement unfinished for the homeowner to complete at a later time. What is happening is that in these scenarios, if there is a fire in the basement, firemen can fall through the unprotected floors because the exposed manufactured wood joists and beams may be burning faster than traditional framing materials.

For that reason, a code change, Section 501.3 of the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC), has been developed mandating that all manufactured wood floor framing be covered by a 30 minute radiant barrier. That means that all those basements with unfinished ceilings will need to be finished.

I strongly recommend that builders and contractors contact your building code officials to make sure you know what you are required to do to cover the exposed beams for safety. Installing and finishing a gypsum ceiling may be one of the most affordable and practical ways of providing our emergency responders with the protection they deserve.

 

New Webinar Hones in on Superior Classroom Acoustics, Evidence-based Design

7403731050_9a1ee480deWhen classrooms are too noisy, learning is significantly impacted. There’s a compelling body of research that supports this notion. I’ve also had the opportunity to witness it first hand through our work at Slatington Elementary.

The good news is that there are readily accessible, achievable solutions that support high-performance classroom acoustics and meet applicable code requirements. In a new webinar, “Creating Superior Acoustic Environments in Schools with Evidence-Based Design”, I will outline specific recommendations on remediation techniques along with specific wall design and installation solutions.

The webinar, scheduled for Tuesday, September 24 from Noon – 1 p.m. EST, will also include the following learning objectives:

  • Identify the benefits of evidence-based acoustical design and distinguish key acoustic performance criteria necessary to create a superior acoustic environment
  • Understand the major factors affecting acoustics and speech intelligibility in classroom spaces
  • Examine the results of an elementary school classroom acoustics case study
  • Identify relevant code requirements and detail how to specify construction materials and methods for sound control

To join this free webinar, which is eligible for AIA continuing education credits, click here to register.