Highlights from Building Energy 14

Five of us from PDT headed down to the NESEA Building Energy 14 conference earlier this week for all-day workshops. Read below for some highlights from our sessions, and see future posts for even more detail.

Green Firm Boot Camp

Barbara Batshalom from the Sustainable Performance Institute (SPI) talked about how AEC firms can effectively institutionalize sustainability throughout all aspects of their business – from office culture to operations to project delivery methods. Random acts of sustainability that meet some level of sustainable metrics are nowhere as important or impactful on the environment than a portfolio of projects that come from a common commitment and an information rich process. Clearly defined and articulated goals that are at the core of a firm’s best practices have much greater impact on the social, economic and built environment.

The Science and Implementation of High Performance Building Assemblies

Peter Yost from Building Green talked about the need for architects and builders to manage both energy and moisture equally in the design and construction of buildings. Managing moisture as intensely as we manage energy is key to building durability and indoor air quality (source: Building Green). Selection of materials is the crucial first step in managing bulk water, capillary action, air transport of water, and diffusion of water vapor in building assemblies. How we bring materials together into wall, floor, and roof assemblies determines building performance and the quality of human comfort.

Adventures in Building Science:  Multi-Family New Construction

Joe Lstiburek from Building Science Corporation talked about how the perfect wall needs to address four principle control layers. In order of importance, those layers are: the water control layer, the air control layer, the vapor control layer, and the thermal control layer. A building is an environmental separator – it has to keep the outside out and the inside in (source: Building Science Corporation). Just as Peter Yost stressed the importance of water management, Joe Lstiburek summed it up: Buildings get wet. Design buildings to dry.

Building Assemblies
Building Assemblies

Introductory and Advanced Multifamily Auditing and Retrofitting

This session included a panel of experts from the Community Preservation Corporation, Steven Winter Associates, Efficiency Maine, and NSTAR. The morning presentation began with the basics of how to audit an existing multifamily property - what to look at and how to analyze the infrastructure to determine the effectiveness of the existing systems.  As far as energy use analysis, some good questions to ask are: What uses energy in my building? What energy use cost me the most in my building? How energy efficient could my building be? Which building components and systems interact with each other? In the afternoon, the experts, all from different parts of New England, reviewed case studies of various types of multifamily buildings to answer detailed questions on specific buildings, specific retrofits, and specific problems.