Moisture Performance Of An All-Wood R-30 Wall

Natural alternatives to foam insulation are highly desirable for high-performing wood-framed buildings.  But lignocellulosic materials can be highly bio-nutritive and moisture absorptive, increasing their vulnerability to degradation and reduced thermal performance.  Designers are often faced with the dilemma of selecting materials that are less environmentally safe for much improved performance.  In this article, I describe a…

Frankensteinian Design: Energy Efficiency At The Expense Of Durability

Energy efficient initiatives, coupled with the IECC’s requirements for continuous insulation over exterior surfaces, have prompted a vast array of ‘Frankensteinian’ energy assemblies.  From three-coat stucco over outbound EPS to EIFS on structural insulated panels (SIPs), the combinations of such hybrid approaches appear endless.  While the professed energy efficiencies can be impressive, moisture management may…

The Benefits Of Biomass Gasification For Buildings Reliant On Propane Or Electric Grids

We were recently introduced to a commercial application of biomass gasification during our visit the Deep Portage Learning Center in Hackensack, Minnesota.   What we learned surprised us. Biomass gasification relies on renewable energy sources such as cord wood, wood pellets, and agricultural crop wastes.  The technology is relatively simple, efficient, and utilizes the secondary burning…