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Passive solar house in Maine

Post in 'The Green Room' started by begreen, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    Bret, just over the border in NB, I don't quite follow your sheathing discussion above. Most houses here of the 70's/80's had much lighter roof sheathing than now. The roofs used to use H clips at the joints vs T&G. Nowadays due to cost we're seeing a return to 1" board sheathing of roofs and I even saw a recently framed house with diagonal board sheathing!

    I'm not a LEEDS person but have seen local projects source LEEDS certified lumber from 3000 miles away when the site was located next to a mill producing lumber from local sustainably grown trees. Nonsense to me.

    We don't have exactly the same energy codes but in general the codes here have dramatically cut energy consumption in residential homes. Contractors building spec homes always built to the minimum, 2x4 walls, min insulation in ceiling, no insulation on rim joists, uninsulated basements, vapor barrier all punched to pieces etc while they put money into fancy cabinets. Now have min requirements in walls and ceilings.

    Related to the increase in heat requirement, I worked 10 years in an early 1980's 4 story building that was extremely tightly built, foot print about 100x100, tilt-up precast, caulked joints, fixed windows caulked in place etc. It had won all kinds of design awards and efficiency awards but I constantly had headaches. When we remodelled our office a friend who was an engineer with the designer was in doing some testing. Got talking, the only fresh air in the building was from leakage induced by the 2 bathroom fans on each floor that were automatically shut down at night. They were little tiny home style fans. Each suite had a dehumidification function built into the heat pump to remove the excess moisture. If someone laid carpet in the building, the solvent would stink for better than a week in the whole building.

    I'm sure this building would use more power if brought up to a minimum air change standard.

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  2. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    Here, in Maine, and NH.... when I started in '89... 24 years ago on every wood building we built, it was 5/8 plywood on the walls and 3/4 on the roof with 2X6 walls... the only time I can ever remember framing with 2x4's in an exterior wall was in uninsulated garages. As time progressed it became 1/2" plywood in the walls and 5/8's on the roof... then 7/16 OSB in the walls... I don't even like *walking* on a roof sheathed with 7/16 OSB...

    Pine board sheathing has no hope of meeting the MUBEC... though it will outlast any laminated product by at least a factor of 2... In my house, I have boards that are 18"+ wide and 1 1/8" thick that were nailed on in 1865...

    IMHO, LEEDS is a misguided joke... an "energy efficient" building should end up with it's fuel and electrical requirements reduced... not increased...
  3. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    This is an interesting conversation indeed! Having just built my own super-insulated house in 2009. 14 btu/ square foot at -45F. Useing #3 rough 1x8 pine boards for roof sheathing over manufactured trusses standard 24" OC. I was told by more than one contractor that the pine was way too weak for roof sheathing on my 5/12 roof. My responce was that we put way too much trust in glue and OSB is not going on my roof unless it's Advantec (Huber) and 3/4" T&G. Then the price of the pine was even more attractive. More labor to install but that was cheap (me).
    The air exchange is an interesting thing as well, HRV are 50% (if that in the real world) efficient and we need something like 3.5 air changes per hour? For what? If there are three people living an a house with X number of cubic feet of interior air volume and those people consume X amount of oxygen fer hour, who says we need a standard air change per hour? A small house would need so many CFM to meet this with the same number of people in it, as well as a large house needs 3times the ACH to meet the code. All of this assumes a tupperware container for a house, which is rarely the case with ANY contractor-built building. I have enough air leakage from my range hood to make up for something. Bottom line, ventelation that is mandated should be based on expected occupancy not just some ACH number.

    It's supposed to be a free country, if you want to live in a cardboard house and burn 6,000 gallons of oil/ year you should be free to do that, just don't expect me to pay for it.
    If I want to build to my own standards baded on information and true vapor barrior placed where I want it (aluminum foil behind the strapping which sheetrock is attached) then I should be free to do so. I pay for my heating, and I don't expect anyone else to.
    People who buy those spec houses with shoddy envelopes and beautiful finish work, get what they pay for, a nice paint-job on a bondo'd up rust bucket. People who do not have enough wear-with-all to research or hire someone knowledeable have it coming to them, it's not my fault they are in sick houses, and the gov't shouldn't be doing something to "save-them-from-themselves".

    Off my soapbox now.

    TS
  4. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    Advantek is good stuff... I am still unconvinced about Huber's ZIP system and their $80 a roll tape, however....
  5. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Me as well, it still swells at the nail penitrations.

    I've seen Advantec that was installed in 1999 as a subfloor, flake away just like regular OSB when we replaced a sliding glass door. Not convinced yet, time will tell. FWIW I did use it for subfloor on my second level.

    TS
  6. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    3.5 ACH sounds way too high even when using an HRV. AS I understand it, the recommended residential ventilation standard from ASHRAE is more like 0.3 ACH. Basically they figure the occupancy is # of bedrooms+1, and want something like 15 cfm per person. A 3 bdrm house works out to be ~60 cfm. If there are no smokers or gas ranges most folks think that is still excessive, but the standard is set by the worse case (for indoor pollutants).

    And even at that level if you have a party you will want to crack a window.
  7. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I get your point and am sympathetic. And I might be able to agree if you want to bear the full cost of each of your choices, including for example the air, ground and water pollution resulting from providing you with the 6,000 gallons of oil and from burning the 6,000 gallons. Seal your cardboard home in a bubble, fill the bubble with the emissions from the oil field, from the refineries, from the trucks that brought you the oil; eat the food produced on the polluted ground, drink the polluted water, and breath the polluted air; capture in your bubble for your ingestion all of your emissions from the 6,000 gallons of oil your have burned -- all yours from your free choices -- and then endure all the suffering and all the medical costs from these choices, no one else pays anything for you, its all the result of your free choices. Oh, and you then also pay the governmental tax subsidies to the oil companies and for all the infrastructure to bring you that oil. I think you get the point.

    Of course, this is ridiculous. But I think you likely may agree, unless the bubble is also your choice, that many things over which a person makes a free choice impacts everyone else. I'm not suggesting that all of the regulations and rules are sound or justified; many are in fact controlled by industry that profits from these rules -- but I am suggesting that we all can do better for the better of all.
  8. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    I've seen Advantek *outside* for over 5 years... hasn't swelled at all... In my experience, Advantek is the real deal... better than OSB, better than particle board, better than MDF, better than UL and definitely better than pine boards for it's prescribed purpose... i.e. subfloor decking...
  9. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Nothin wrong with good old plywood as long as you dont skimp on the thickness.Like when people think they can use 1/2 inch on a roof with 24" truss spacing ,and it looks like a roller coaster in a very short time.
  10. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    Re the ACH, modern furnishings foams and plastics produce a huge amount of off-gassing to the interior. Lots of people are becoming sensitive to this and it takes lots of air flow to remove them on top of the basic moisture removal needs.
  11. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Yes but they do not offgas for ever. Love the fresh OSB and the wood/glue smell for a few weeks after installation.

    Jim, I have to say, I have been thinking of your post for these past few days. Great points, but when I go by the neighbor's house and see his two chimneys with the tell-tale blue wood smoke going all winter, I just think to myself, he can waste wood if he wants to. I wish I could pipe that smoke into my gasser LOL. People's own lack of knowledge, and some times plain ignorance is not something I think we should "save themselves from". Now if someone complains about his smoke (we are all far apart) and it is choking, there is a problem. Personally I do not think the pollutants we emit today have as much effect on the enviroment as we are led to believe. That said this does not give us free license to ruin the enviroment, but there more important things people ignore totally like the deficit. We will not need to worry about any pollution if we continue on the path we are on. Oil is traded in US dollars world wide, that is the only thing keeping our paper money worth something, at least thats how I see it.

    TS
  12. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    Where I live in Southern Maine (my house is 3 miles from the beach) easily 50% of the people heat with wood, and it seems most of them, including myself use a smoke dragon... My stove only smokes for about 10 minutes after reloading...
  13. macmaine

    macmaine New Member

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    There were some Passive Houses built in Belfast Maine that were so efficient that a hair dryer could heat them !

    I think the point you are missing is that one does not need to invest in a boiler or even a wood stove.
    So not only do you have the fuel savings but you also do not have the capital costs.
    Think of the insulation as a way to avoid buying a $10,000 boiler
    http://www.mpbn.net/DesktopModules/...53&PDGNewsMediaID=1352&TabID=36&ModuleID=3478


    This is a friend of mine in Portland who has very very low operating costs to heat his apartment building
  14. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    I've heard that before... by an architectural firm... that an outbuilding was so insulated that it didn't even need a heater... the motors would keep it warm they said... funny how that thought almost cost the client a $350,000 water treatment system...

    insulation only slows the transfer of heat.... nature will always seek equilibrium.
  15. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Of course, a $200 baseboard or space heater would seem to be cheap insurance against someone leaving a door open and freezing $350k of equipment.
  16. Bret Chase

    Bret Chase Minister of Fire

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    It wasn't a matter of a door being left open... it was that the treatment system as a whole was endothermic..

    The owner finally ignored the architect and installed an electric unit heater in the building themselves. The inherent problem there was the architect fighting *against* them putting a heater in there

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