It’s that time of year again where some of the greatest minds gather in Massachusetts for The Westford Symposium on Building Science, or better known as Building Science Summer Camp. This event is hosted every year by Joe Lstiburek, PhD. PE and his wife Betsy Pettit, FAIA. This camp is an all-out building science geek fest where some of the top researchers present studies and new building products and systems in an effort to help design and build more energy efficient and healthier homes.
As this is an invitation only event, I am left glued to my seat to follow and decipher the presentations live, 140 characters at a time from its 430 attendees by following the twitter hashtag #bscamp. However social media has increased access to this event yet again. A big shout out goes to Michael Anschel and Stephen Davis for broadcasting live the now famous tweet chat in Joe’s crawlspace via Ustream. Follow their channels here & here. Thus if you have any interest in the latest building science research, I encourage you to watch last nights crawlspace interview of Joe and to follow the #bscamp twitter chat as today is the last day of the symposium.
In 2008 & 09, I had the great opportunity to develop and run a design competition for AIA Ohio that benefited habitat for humanity affiliates here in Ohio with more energy efficient and healthy homes. The competition was a great effort by individuals throughout the state, as we worked with 3 affiliates which all received new designs as a result of the competition and have constructed them since the competition.
As a part of the competition we were able to pull in some great jury members such as Roger Beck who built the first LEED Platinum home in Ohio with high school students, Mandy Metcalf from Environmental Health Watch, Betsy Pettit from Building Science Corporation, Ed Mazria from Architecture 2030 as well as a few other Ohio architects. What inspired me to organize this competition was some of the experiences that I had working with what was the Cleveland Green Building Coalition and Jim LaRue with my first official introduction into building science. As well as my experience with volunteering my time to produce the construction documents and help build the LEED Platinum home in Columbus, Ohio. I wanted to help provide this opportunity I had to others. Then attending the 2008 AIA National Convention in Boston and listening to Millard Fuller tell us, “To you incredibly intelligent and talented and highly educated men and women, you have a huge responsibility. No city is so well off that it can afford to squander a part of the next generation, and when we don’t provide adequate shelter for families, we are consigning a large number of the next generation to prison, to a life of not living up to their potential.” I knew I was doing the right thing.
So after two years and 3 successful construction projects, the competition resurfaced. The overall competition winner, a co-organizer and one of the lucky habitat affiliates presented the competition at the 2011 USGBC GreenBuild Expo in Toronto. So I would like for you to enjoy the presentation that was given and hear about the competition and the experiences gained by not only the competition winner but the habitat for humanity affiliate.
So it is no secret that my career path has changed a little over a year ago from design and producing construction documents for projects ranging from home additions/renovations to multi-million dollar commercial and institutional buildings. These days I am performing home energy audits and have been involved heavily in the weatherization industry, as I feel this is a good fit to keep me sharp and give me great field experience with building science issues that I can take back to the architecture profession if I ever decide to return to a traditional design firm.
During my conversations with customers I am always telling them it was an easy transition into the job because I am already knowledgeable of construction techniques and building science. I just needed training on the equipment and testing procedures. So for those that are interested in home energy audits, here is a great video on the basics of blower door testing that was produced by the Montana Weatherization Training Center. Over the past year, they have produced a whole series of videos on their WXtv site, featuring different aspects of the energy auditing and home weatherization industry.
Check out the Montana Weatherization Training Centers WXtv to view more great videos geared towards training the weatherization industry.
I am always telling people with green design and construction, you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere with what goals you are going to try and obtain for any project. Are you going to focus on energy efficiency, indoor air quality, renewable materials, etc.
Catherine Mohr makes her decisions to building a green home by analyzing the numbers and examining the embodied energy of the materials and systems going into the home. So watch her presentation, and ask yourself this; if you are building a new home home, what is important to you, and where would you draw the line?
Catherine Mohr builds green
Check out Catherine Mohr’s blog as she ventures into green home building.
I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Edward Mazria from Architecture 2030® last week at the AIA Ohio Valley Regional Convention. Architecture 2030 was a major sponsor of the AIA Ohio Affordable Green Home Design Competition, and Ed Mazria sat in on the Best of Show jury, along with presenting, “Architecture: On the Brink of Greatness” to the convention attendees. Therefore as I start posting season two of the e2 series, I am going to skip to the last episode on Architecture 2030 and hope you get inspired as I did.