The deep energy retrofit (DER) is essential to our low energy building future – as most all buildings that will exist (in our lifetime) do already exist. The most authoritative DER guide for the Northeast is the Mass Save Deep Energy Retrofit Builder Guide. (the Guide) Download the Guide here (pdf).
Produced by the Building Science Corporation, the Guide is a very readable, condensed, yet expansive set of guidelines – for builders and architects who want to dramatically improve the performance of existing building enclosures, achieving installed R values of 60 at roofs, 40 at walls and 10 at the ground, and an airtightness of 1.5ACH50. The Guide clearly lays out the logic of many important concepts, like long-term planning with incremental improvements, hazard remediation and careful consideration of unique building dynamics.
The Guide also relentlessly recommends foam (XPS, EPS, and closed cell spray foam) – and leaves the distinct impression that “the answer” is foam, foam and more foam. But if you’re looking for non-foam based solutions – like us – you’ll likely be left scratching your head.
Enter this blog series: With it we want to illustrate and recommend foam-free approaches to many of the assemblies addressed in the Guide. It is our contention that foam-free high performance deep energy retrofits can be higher performing and more sustainable strategies than foam based approaches.
The elevator version of our argument is this: If you want to minimize the toxic impact on our environment and provide robust drying and airtight capabilities, then foam should not be your first choice. We can do better.
The series will have seven installments*:
- Foam-Free DER: Series Introduction
- Foam-Free DER: Roof Assemblies
- Foam-Free DER: Wall & Foundation Assemblies
- Foam-Free DER: Ground
- Foam-Free DER: Windows & Doors
- Foam-Free DER: Roof & Wall Connections
- Foam-Free DER: Miscellaneous Penetrations
* Number and sequence may vary as we work our way through the series.
Admittedly this is a work in progress and so we look forward to questions and comments as we elaborate and refine what can quickly become an overwhelming number of iterations. As such we’re starting on the white board – literally.
We hope you find this exploration useful.
- 475 Presentation: Foam Free High Performance Building Enclosures
- A high performance roof should be vented – how to do this properly
- Air and Vapor
- Air & Vapor, Part 2: The Importance of Air Tightness
- Air sealing wooden joists to brick/masonry party walls
- Blowing dense-packed cellulose, it’s like magic
- Dust is not airtight, so don’t tape to it
- EcoBrooklyn Harlem PH project – airtight
- Foam-Free Wall Assembly Guidelines by Climate Zone
- Foam Fails
- Foam Fails – Reason #1: Dangerous Toxic Ingredients
- Foam Fails – Reason #2: Unacceptable Fire Hazard
- Foam-Free DER: Roof Assemblies
- Historic Masonry Retrofit Details and Notes (cold/mixed climates)
- How to airseal a (rowhouse) roof
- How to airseal a Brownstone to PH standards (party walls)
- How to install dense-pack cellulose with Intello Plus airtight membrane
- Joe Lstiburek: air seal both sides of the insulation
- The Pro Clima Solitex Mento Difference
- Pro Clima Tapes: Made to Last
- Pro Clima’s membrane, tapes and adhesive performed best in the Test.de
- RED LIST
- SOLITEX MENTO 1000 performs well in ASTM tests and exceeds AC38 requirements
- The service cavity – making airtight construction easy!
- The System
- Tighthouse – Park Place Brownstone renovation
- Tighter than expected: time to ventilate without compromise
- Vented rainscreen: what a high performance building wants
- VOC free Air Sealing with Pro Clima
- When Buildings Move – Airtightness Should Last