August 30, 2011
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With my summer work term at a close I can look back at a successful summer with ThermalWise. We were able to get the tasks done for the website we had set for ourself at the start of the summer, which feels great. AtlanticGreenBuilding.ca is really starting to take off!
We added a map to the website which shows products manufactured in Atlantic Canada. You can enter your postal code it it will zoom in on products close to you. This helps builders and owners find products that are from the area, and not shipped in. By buying locally you reduce transportation related emissions as well as help the local economy. Have a look at the map here.
Eight different videos were produced by us this summer, as well as 10 new or improved project profiles. The videos showcase green building projects in the area and include interviews with people involved whenever possible. These videos turned out very professional, and make the profiles much more interesting to viewers. The ThermalWise team has expressed an interest in hiring us to produce additional case studies in the future, which means they are obviously impressed with our work. You can view the project profile and videos here.
I’ve learned lots about green building products and services through this job. I was fascinated with all the innovative ideas that were put on the market in recent years. Researching these products has taught me a lot about green washing and how to detect it. By developing and sticking to strick criteria for listing products we were able to identify which ones were actually green and which ones were just faking it.
By developing case studies I’ve learned about and witnessed different building strategies. One of the most interesting was the combination of Passive House standards with LEED certification that was used by Passive House E-Design and Leonard Construction when building the Hawkins House. The Hawkins House is the first passive house in Nova Scotia and possibly the greenest home in the province. It uses Passive House which focuses on extreme energy efficiency, and combines it with LEED which contains the broader green strategies related to materials, energy and water use, sustainable landscaping, and design innovation. There is a workshop on Passive House and LEED combination at the Greenbuild Expo this fall and I will be attending for sure!
This job has identified a career path for me that I didn’t always consider. I’m really interested in Project Management. A lot of the work we did at ThermalWise was very dynamic. It was always different and required different skills and different planning. Project management is the business of working on different projects for a fixed time period with unique challenges and outcomes. When I look for my next job I’m going to try to find one that will put me to work in project management. This time of work ensures every day is different, challenging, and exciting.
July 18, 2011
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I have recently been getting some experience using a blower door. This is a device that is used to measure the amount of air infiltration in a building. The amount of air changes per hour that occur because of air passing through cracks in the buildings envelope has a big impact on the energy used for heating and cooling. Air leaks generally occur at the seams around windows, doors, and other holes. An R2000 home should have less than 1.5 ACH (air changes per hour) while a passive house sets its standard at 0.6 ACH.
The blower door connects to an exterior door frame of the building and covers the entire opening. It uses a large fan to create a pressure difference of 50 pascals between the interior and the exterior. Once the pressure difference is in place you can check for leaks in the building envelope by using smoke. If you see smoke being drawn through the envelope you mark the area and come back and seal it better after the test.
I recently took part in a blower door test for a passive house. Since 0.6 ACH is so low and hard to achieve the builder had a preliminary blower door test done early in the construction process to identify problem areas while they could still be fixed. Often blower door tests are done at the end of the construction when it is too late to fix problems, and I was impressed with the extra steps being taken to ensure efficiency.
The blower door I used is called the Minneapolis Blower Door and is manufactured by the Energy Conservatory.
Blower door set up on a passive house