Strategies For Staying Cool: Air Sealing And Insulation

by | Aug 29, 2023 | Rate It Green Newsletter | 0 comments

Check out August’s newsletter from Rate It Green- our Green Building Marketing Partner

Rate It Green Members and Friends – 

It’s quite an understatement to say it’s been hot this summer.  Playfully, and yet deadly seriously, Vox declared that this scorching summer might just “be one the coolest summers of the rest of your life.”  Scientists at the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service estimate current summer temperatures as not only the hottest since modern record keeping began, but possibly in the last 120,000 years.  And summer’s not over, as we continue to shatter records across the globe.  

What does this heat and new reality mean for our homes and buildings, and for how we live, work, learn and play in them?  For one thing, rising temperatures mean we need to get smarter about protecting ourselves in extreme conditions, while increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption.  Sustainable building practices not only help mitigate climate and health challenges, but as we and others have said before, green building is just smart building. We’re talking about everything from more efficient practices and less impactful and wasteful materials, to buildings that operate better and more efficiently for less money and using less energy, and are also more comfortable and healthier to inhabit.  

Green Builder Matt Hoots of Sawhorse, Inc. has created a host of helpful content to help explain how our building envelope is an essential part of the heating and cooling, energy consumption, and comfort equation.  In a recent video, Matt and Amelia Godfrey of Southface review the factors, forces, and physics at play in terms of how air circulates in homes (hot air may rise, but not always, and heat doesn’t rise or even move!), and they also discuss top Strategies for Managing Attic Heat and Heat Loss, for comfort and also to protect heating and cooling equipment.  If you have a hot attic, or wish to avoid building one, check out their conversation! Also, don’t hesitate to contribute your thoughts, or to let us know what you’d like to learn.  This video was inspired by Rate It Green Member comments and questions!

In a recent article, Matt also reviewed how Improved Air Sealing and Insulation have a significant impact on system sizing, and even on occupancy comfort and health.  More airtight and properly insulated buildings require smaller HVAC systems.  Smaller systems benefit builders in lower up front equipment and ductwork costs, and they also deliver long term operational savings to owners and occupants, along with better control and comfort.  Matt offers advice to builders to watch modeling inputs carefully to properly calculate heating and cooling loads.  

We’re going to need all the strategies and tactics available, for different project budgets and for new and existing construction.  For new construction, it’s best to start future proofing right from project start, and we also need to consider all parts of the building, including the “sixth” wall below our feet.  And, these concepts apply to standard construction as well as high performance building.  We can learn from every project and use every install and project as a teaching opportunity, as Matt and his colleagues are clearly showing by example as they create articles, videos, and even virtual tours for the #1920sMakeoverATL deep energy retrofit in Atlanta, Georgia.

While the current focus may be on summer heat for many, the same top practices and materials will also help prevent heat loss in the colder months.  So really, it’s always a good time to think about the building envelope.  Fewer air leaks, lower water and vapor intrusion risk, and better temperature control mean a win-win both for building professionals and for everyone who inhabits indoor spaces (that’s all of us).  

What are your thoughts on how we can best stay cool, or warm? What can you share, and what would you like to ask? Add your voice to the conversation! 

Thank you, 

Allison Friedman
Founder, Rate It Green

‘Want to catch up? Check out some of Rate It Green’s favorite past newsletters: 

The “Perfect Wall” – Explained and Demonstrated
Strategic Ventilation for Efficiency & Health
Build It Tight, Build It Right
The Future of Gas Cooking
The Forgotten Side of Buildings
Residential Green Building and Certifications
Ugly Needs a New Definition 
Humidity Control – Protecting Your Investment & Health 
How Much Do We Really Know about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)? 
Important Conversations about Electrification 

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