Health and Comfort

Are We Designing For Comfort And Health In Our New Homes?


Foreword by Ian Thompson, Editor

This episode provides a lesson on the science behind comfort and health in our homes. It offers an intriguing perspective on what defines comfort, and how, if at all, designers address this topic.

Personally, I believe that designers and specifiers don’t place enough emphasis on comfort when designing a house. And I’m not referring to the choice of sofa or big TV. Does the space feel warm and comfortable throughout the year? What’s the air quality like? Has the house enough space and privacy for our mental wellbeing? Is there ample off-street parking and recreational space. Can we walk to the local shops? Do we live in a community where we can walk to the local park and walk the dog safely? For me, these are all factors that cannot be ignored if we are truly going to be comfortable in our own homes.

Unfortunately, the selection of healthy materials is almost non-existent. Why is this? It’s mainly because there’s little education and information available on which materials and products are healthy, and which ones are not. The price is currently the most significant factor in product specification.

I’ve seen some heat recovery systems that draw air directly from the attic space and distribute that same air throughout the house. In my view, this system only makes sense when the attic space is regularly supplied with clean air, and we use healthy insulation materials and non-treated truss timbers. We also need to consider how clean that environment is and whether there’s a risk of additional hazards like rodents and birds, and their droppings.

I may be digressing a bit, but a lot is being said about building airtight homes today. However, there are also many downsides, especially if we use the wrong materials and products, and if the construction isn’t up to standard. If water gets in, where does it escape to? We see councils in many countries imposing higher building code standards, yet their industries can’t even build to the most basic standards properly. I believe we must reset, rethink, and implement common sense. Let’s design simple, healthy, sustainable homes that are affordable, functional, and can be built more efficiently using better building systems, products, and materials.

Steve and Matt feel that comfort and health are interdependent – if you solve for one, you solve for the other. It all boils down to control of the indoor environment. Their statement that “dilution is not the solution to indoor pollution” encapsulates their approach. If you’re committed to creating truly comfortable, healthy, high-performance homes, then this is a video worth watching.

Build Science 101: #3 Why “Building Science”? Comfort and Health

Video Transcript

Alright, my friends, Building Science 101, Part Three – the building science of both comfort and health. Where do we start, Steve? Wow, that’s a loaded one. Right? We talked about building shelter, and we build in this to gain control. Well, even though we talk about things like durability and energy efficiency, what people really acknowledge is comfort. Yeah, right? They would know when they walk in the house either, “Wow, it’s hot in here,” or, “It’s cold in here.” They never say, “Hey, there’s water in my walls,” or, “I hear the walls leaking.” They don’t know that, but they can immediately identify with temperature, humidity, and comfort issues. Health, that’s a little bit trickier. Yeah, that’s a little harder.

But comfort, let’s get after it. We’ll talk about comfort first. I’m just going to get us started here. So, comfort and health, they’re both pretty much, I think, tied together. That if we solve for one, you basically solve for the other one, pretty much for sure, right? But the whole idea of comfort is, again, I want to be somewhere in here when it’s either 100 out here or it’s zero out here. I want it to be 70 in here. And I grab my nice little architect building section here because that’s the one that really helps identify that we have these boundary systems across the house that even at the ground when it’s 70 in there, it might be 55 here on the ground. And so, those boundaries are really providing that shelter, that enclosure, and the ability to get control inside there.

Now, comfort to me is pretty much a two-headed monster. There’s the issues of, “Hey, it’s hot outside in Arizona,” or, “It’s cold outside in Minnesota.” So, we have to climate-tune our buildings and the assemblies to where we’re located. Climate-tuning is a relatively new concept, but I like it. It’s a real quick one. Identify. I tell people when I’m lecturing, if I’m going to New Orleans, I pack a certain type of clothing. I don’t pack the same clothing if I’m going to Montana. That’s right, in February. It’s totally different. So, if I’m building in Montana, or I’m building in New Orleans, or I’m building in Des Moines, Iowa, chances are I have three different sets of clothing. You want to tune clothing for the environment. And for everybody, it’s going to be different. So, we’re really trying to kind of tune our range because you might want to stay in a house where it’s 70 degrees. I might like it a little cooler at 68 to sleep. So, but we need to be able to tune that inside. But to do that, we have to get our first understanding of what’s happening outside. And a lot of builders and a lot of architects don’t really understand that concept.

You can go across the country, and some will just say, “Yeah, we build a 2×6 wall with plywood and building paper, and that’s our standard wall, wherever we build.” And they never really question it. The second part is tuning the equipment to the house. In my case, we overtune the project to the site. So, that means we can underscore the tuning of the equipment that actually goes into the house. So, you have to tune the equipment. But the equations to get you there, the person punching in those numbers really needs to understand what those numbers mean.

You have to tune the equipment. But the equations to get you there, the person punching in those numbers really needs to understand what those numbers mean. That’s right. And this person didn’t. I took that same set of drawings, same set of specs, gave him to another gentleman who knew what he was doing, and he came back at like 17,000. So, almost 25% less. And here’s the reality. We ended up putting three Mini Splits on the wall here. One of them, he never has used. Where we have 30% more of the heating inside the house. So, it can be done, but we just really need to understand, and it’s truly a collaborative effort. As an architect, you just can’t sit there and say, “Okay, guys, here’s the drawings. Mr. Builder, go build this house.” He turns it over to his HVAC guy and says, “Hey, whip up a quick ductwork.” That guy sends it off to his supply house. They run a Manual J, and they never even looked at what kind of windows are we using, what type of air leakage spec are we talking about for this house, none of that.

Manual J is the calculation that sizes the ductwork. It basically has a sizing calculation by sometimes an engineer, sometimes a trained person. They input all the exterior walls, insulation, air tightness, windows data into a computer program, which gives you load sizes in BTUs for HVAC equipment. So, having that actually designed by an engineer or a smart, trained person, and not just using a rule of thumb can make a really big difference, especially as we’re coming back to this idea of comfort.

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Air quality is basically what people equate to air quality. There are other things we can talk about, but it is how healthy we get. We get a lot of people who say, “My house is horrible.” And we bring in a lot of things like furniture and carpet that have chemicals on them, for fire retardancy and stain resistance. You have to check with your clients. It’s certainly worth having a conversation there if you’re a builder or an architect.

But air quality doesn’t stop once the building is built. We bring in a lot of stuff like furniture, carpeting, all of these things that have chemicals on them. And we bring in a lot of people who say, “My house is horrible.” Different people, different strokes. Some people say no adhesives, no tapes, or they’re sensitive. Some people say, “Don’t spray foam in my house.” You have to check with your clients. It’s certainly worth having a conversation there if you’re a builder or an architect. Air quality doesn’t stop once the building is built. We bring in a lot of stuff like furniture, carpeting, all of these things that have chemicals on them for fire retardancy and stain resistance. You have to check with your clients. It’s certainly worth having a conversation there if you’re a builder or an architect.

The people who build the building, our carpenters, our framers, you know, there’s very few painters that are certified lead-safe, they just simply don’t know. They do what they’ve done for their whole life. And we get into that and so you know, we get a lot of people who say, “I have multiple sensitivities.” There are other people who say, “Don’t spray foam in my house.” So, you have to check with your clients. It’s certainly worth having a conversation there if you’re a builder or an architect. Air quality doesn’t stop once the building is built. We bring in a lot of stuff like furniture, carpeting, all of these things that have chemicals on them for fire retardancy and stain resistance.

Building Science 101 is sponsored by Anderson Windows and Doors, Builder First Source, Huber Engineered Woods, Polyguard, Sashco, and ViewRail. Alright, my friends, Building Science 101, Part Three – the building science of both comfort and health. Where do we start, Steve? Wow, that’s a loaded one. Right? We talked about building shelter, and we build in this to gain control. Well, even though we talk about things like durability and energy efficiency, what people really acknowledge is comfort. Yeah, right? They would know when they walk in the house either, “Wow, it’s hot in here,” or, “It’s cold in here.” They never say, “Hey, there’s water in my walls,” or, “I hear the walls leaking.” They don’t know that, but they can immediately identify with temperature, humidity, and comfort issues. Health, that’s a little bit trickier. Yeah, that’s a little harder.

But comfort, let’s get after it. We’ll talk about comfort first. I’m just going to get us started here. So, comfort and health, they’re both pretty much, I think, tied together. That if we solve for one, you basically solve for the other one, pretty much for sure, right? But the whole idea of comfort is, again, I want to be somewhere in here when it’s either 100 out here or it’s zero out here. I want it to be 70 in here. And I grab my nice little architect building section here because that’s the one that really helps identify that we have these boundary systems across the house that even at the ground when it’s 70 in there, it might be 55 here on the ground. And so, those boundaries are really providing that shelter, that enclosure, and the ability to get control inside there.

Now, comfort to me is pretty much a two-headed monster. There’s the issues of, “Hey, it’s hot outside in Arizona,” or, “It’s cold outside in Minnesota.” So, we have to climate-tune our buildings and the assemblies to where we’re located. Climate-tuning is a relatively new concept, but I like it. It’s a real quick one. Identify. I tell people when I’m lecturing, if I’m going to New Orleans, I pack a certain type of clothing. I don’t pack the same clothing if I’m going to Montana. That’s right, in February. It’s totally different. So, if I’m building in Montana, or I’m building in New Orleans, or I’m building in Des Moines, Iowa, chances are I have three different sets of clothing. You want to tune clothing for the environment. And for everybody, it’s going to be different. So, we’re really trying to kind of tune our range because you might want to stay in a house where it’s 70 degrees. I might like it a little cooler at 68 to sleep. So, but we need to be able to tune that inside. But to do that, we have to get our first understanding of what’s happening outside. And a lot of builders and a lot of architects don’t really understand that concept.

You can go across the country, and some will just say, “Yeah, we build a 2×6 wall with plywood and building paper, and that’s our standard wall, wherever we build.” And they never really question it. The second part is tuning the equipment to the house. In my case, we overtune the project to the site. So, that means we can underscore the tuning of the equipment that actually goes into the house. So, you have to tune the equipment. But the equations to get you there, the person punching in those numbers really needs to understand what those numbers mean.

You have to tune the equipment. But the equations to get you there, the person punching in those numbers really needs to understand what those numbers mean. That’s right. And this person didn’t. I took that same set of drawings, same set of specs, gave him to another gentleman who knew what he was doing, and he came back at like 17,000. So, almost 25% less. And here’s the reality. We ended up putting three Mini Splits on the wall here. One of them, he never has used. Where we have 30% more of the heating inside the house. So, it can be done, but we just really need to understand, and it’s truly a collaborative effort. As an architect, you just can’t sit there and say, “Okay, guys, here’s the drawings. Mr. Builder, go build this house.” He turns it over to his HVAC guy and says, “Hey, whip up a quick ductwork.” That guy sends it off to his supply house. They run a Manual J, and they never even looked at what kind of windows are we using, what type of air leakage spec are we talking about for this house, none of that.

Manual J is the calculation that sizes the ductwork. It basically has a sizing calculation by sometimes an engineer, sometimes a trained person. They input all the exterior walls, insulation, air tightness, windows data into a computer program, which gives you load sizes in BTUs for HVAC equipment. So, having that actually designed by an engineer or a smart, trained person and not just using a rule of thumb can make a really big difference, especially as we’re coming back to this idea of comfort.

Air quality is basically what people equate to air quality. There are other things we can talk about, but it is how healthy we get. We get a lot of people who say, “My house is horrible.” And we bring in a lot of things like furniture and carpet that have chemicals on them, for fire retardancy and stain resistance. You have to check with your clients. It’s certainly worth having a conversation there if you’re a builder or an architect.

But air quality doesn’t stop once the building is built. We bring in a lot of stuff like furniture and carpet that have chemicals on them for fire retardancy and stain resistance. The people who build the building, our carpenters, our framers, you know, there’s very few painters that are certified lead-safe, they just simply don’t know. They do what they’ve done for their whole life. And we get into that and so you know, we get a lot of people who say, “I have multiple sensitivities.” There are other people who say, “Don’t spray foam in my house.” So, you have to check with your clients. It’s certainly worth having a conversation there if you’re a builder or an architect. Air quality doesn’t stop once the building is built. We bring in a lot of stuff like furniture, carpeting, all of these things that have chemicals on them for fire retardancy and stain resistance.

Building Science 101 is sponsored by Anderson Windows and Doors, Builder First Source, Huber Engineered Woods, Polyguard, Sashco, and ViewRail. Alright, my friends, Building Science 101, Part Three – the building science of both comfort and health. Where do we start, Steve? Wow, that’s a loaded one. Right? We talked about building shelter, and we build in this to gain control. Well, even though we talk about things like durability and energy efficiency, what people really acknowledge is comfort. Yeah, right? They would know when they walk in the house either, “Wow, it’s hot in here,” or, “It’s cold in here.” They never say, “Hey, there’s water in my walls,” or, “I hear the walls leaking.” They don’t know that, but they can immediately identify with temperature, humidity, and comfort issues. Health, that’s a little bit trickier. Yeah, that’s a little harder.

But comfort, let’s get after it. We’ll talk about comfort first. I’m just going to get us started here. So, comfort and health, they’re both pretty much, I think, tied together. That if we solve for one, you basically solve for the other one, pretty much for sure, right? But the whole idea of comfort is, again, I want to be somewhere in here when it’s either 100 out here or it’s zero out here. I want it to be 70 in here. And I grab my nice little architect building section here because that’s the one that really helps identify that we have these boundary systems across the house that even at the ground when it’s 70 in there, it might be 55 here on the ground. And so, those boundaries are really providing that shelter, that enclosure, and the ability to get control inside there.

Now, comfort to me is pretty much a two-headed monster. There’s the issues of, “Hey, it’s hot outside in Arizona,” or, “It’s cold outside in Minnesota.” So, we have to climate-tune our buildings and the assemblies to where we’re located. Climate-tuning is a relatively new concept, but I like it. It’s a real quick one. Identify. I tell people when I’m lecturing, if I’m going to New Orleans, I pack a certain type of clothing. I don’t pack the same clothing if I’m going to Montana. That’s right, in February. It’s totally different. So, if I’m building in Montana, or I’m building in New Orleans, or I’m building in Des Moines, Iowa, chances are I have three different sets of clothing. You want to tune clothing for the environment. And for everybody, it’s going to be different. So, we’re really trying to kind of tune our range because you might want to stay in a house where it’s 70 degrees. I might like it a little cooler at 68 to sleep. So, but we need to be able to tune that inside. But to do that, we have to get our first understanding of what’s happening outside. A lot of builders and a lot of architects don’t really understand that concept.

You can go across the country, and some will just say, “Yeah, we build a 2×6 wall with plywood and building paper, and that’s our standard wall, wherever we build.” And they never really question it. The second part is tuning the equipment to the house. In my case, we overtune the project to the site. So, that means we can underscore the tuning of the equipment that actually goes into the house. So, you have to tune the equipment. But the equations to get you there, the person punching in those numbers really needs to understand what those numbers mean.

You have to tune the equipment. But the equations to get you there, the person punching in those numbers really needs to understand what those numbers mean. That’s right. And this person didn’t. I took that same set of drawings, same set of specs, gave him to another gentleman who knew what he was doing, and he came back at like 17,000. So, almost 25% less. And here’s the reality. We ended up putting three Mini Splits on the wall here. One of them, he never has used. Where we have 30% more of the heating inside the house. So, it can be done, but we just really need to understand, and it’s truly a collaborative effort. As an architect, you just can’t sit there and say, “Okay, guys, here’s the drawings. Mr. Builder, go build this house.” He turns it over to his HVAC guy and says, “Hey, whip up a quick ductwork.” That guy sends it off to his supply house. They run a Manual J, and they never even looked at what kind of windows are we using, what type of air leakage spec are we talking about for this house, none of that.

Manual J is the calculation that sizes the ductwork. It basically has a sizing calculation by sometimes an engineer, sometimes a trained person. They input all the exterior walls, insulation, air tightness, windows data into a computer program, which gives you load sizes in BTUs for HVAC equipment. So, having that actually designed by an engineer or a smart, trained person and not just using a rule of thumb can make a really big difference, especially as we’re coming back to this idea of comfort.

Air quality is basically what people equate to air quality. There are other things we can talk about, but it is how healthy we get. We get a lot of people who say, “My house is horrible.” And we bring in a lot of things like furniture and carpet that have chemicals on them, for fire retardancy and stain resistance. You have to check with your clients. It’s certainly worth having a conversation there if you’re a builder or an architect.

But air quality doesn’t stop once the building is built. We bring in a lot of stuff like furniture and carpet that have chemicals on them for fire retardancy and stain resistance. The people who build the building, our carpenters, our framers, you know, there’s very few painters that are certified lead-safe, they just simply don’t know. They do what they’ve done for their whole life. And we get into that and so you know, we get a lot of people who say, “I have multiple sensitivities.” There are other people who say, “Don’t spray foam in my house.” So, you have to check with your clients. It’s certainly worth having a conversation there if you’re a builder or an architect. Air quality doesn’t stop once the building is built. We bring in a lot of stuff like furniture, carpeting, all of these things that have chemicals on them for fire retardancy and stain resistance.

You could just say, “Hey, you bought it. You know, live with it. That’s the couch, guys’ problem. Couch company’s problem. But, you know, if you’re really, really diligent about your job, you want to suggest to your homeowners, ‘Hey, you know, I know you went and you bought new furniture and stuff.’ I had one client that we’ve been to his house, Dan’s, and he bought all his furniture and he put it. We had a two-car, about 2 and 1 half car garage, and he brought all his furniture in there, took all the plastic off it and just let it kind of air out, sit in the garage for like two weeks. That’s really smart before he brought it in the house. And I got to tell you, I mean when you take that plastic off, it’s like, ‘Whoa, really, the stuff that’s in there because it’s been encapsulated.’ I mean, ultimately, that’s the new car smell that we all equate to, ‘Hey, this car is brand new. It has this smell to it.’ That’s off-gassing of materials, that’s formaldehyde, that’s all kinds of glues and sealants and chemicals. And funny enough, that car, if you leave that car in the sun with the windows down for 2 weeks, all of a sudden, now that smell is going to go away.

And so, we want to be cautious about what we buy and what we bring in. And there are classes of things that will off-gas and be done, but there’s also some things that will off-gas for the life of the product. And we’re not going to get into that now, but for future study for you and for future series, we need to think about things like vinyl flooring that’s well-regarded by builders as something that will off-gas for the life of the product, rather than having a short off-gas time and then it’s okay.

So, you mentioned spray foam, for instance. If everything goes well on a spray foam install job, you can’t be in there. You shouldn’t be in there without a respirator on while they’re spraying that spray foam. It smells in the house that day that they’re spraying it, but that off-gasses really quickly. And those things that are off-gassing that are not good for you need to be flushed out of the house. You come back to that same house under construction a few days later, it doesn’t smell. It’s off-gassed, and it’s gone. Yeah, a lot of those things become somewhat inert over time.

And I can attest to it. I’ve been in houses, and I didn’t put the respirator on, but if I walk through where they were spraying, the back of my throat gets itchy for sure, almost immediately. Another one that we’re familiar with, for any of the older builders watching this, is the oil-based paints that we used to spray all the time on the job sites. The painters would spray that. They’d have a mask on, but if you walked in the house, it would hit you like a ton of bricks. Yeah, that oil paint smell, which is not good for you. But that, again, flashes off relatively quickly, and a day or two later, you don’t smell it.

Two more points about health, because you bring up a good one with the oil paints that just made me think of, for all of you young builders out there that want to have a long-lasting life. Think about all the materials. Again, I’m just going to go back a little bit, but cement board is a material getting widely used today. We’re coming up with a lot of materials that don’t rot, don’t deteriorate, don’t dissolve. Well, guess what that means? When that sawdust gets into your lungs, it doesn’t rot, it doesn’t dissolve. It sits there. I remember being on a job, walking up, and the guy was doing a cedar roof. He and all his guys were wearing masks, and I was like, ‘Can I just ask what the masks are?’ He goes, ‘It’s cedar.’ I go, ‘I know, but I never seen anybody wear a mask.’ He goes, ‘Well, you use cedar, so it doesn’t rot. What do you think happens when all that cedar sawdust gets in my lungs, ’cause I’ve been breathing it all day? It doesn’t rot. It’s just going to sit in my lungs for a long time.’

The health of the building but the health of the guys building it is really important. Yeah, take that PPE seriously, right? You only get one set of ears, one set of eyes, and one pair of lungs while you’re building those houses. But the second point is, what do we bring into the house when we go in the house, right? I’ve heard a very extremely respectable gentleman, a building scientist that I know, and he said, ‘Everybody’s always worried about the air quality inside.’ He goes, ‘The stuff that comes in at the bottom of your shoes if you go walking around the house is probably just as important as anything coming in through the filters and such.’ It makes me think when I’m designing houses. I always create entry areas where, whether you want to or not, but it’s available. People can take off their shoes, they can get stored, and then they can move in. We just had that discussion with a client this morning here when she was asking, ‘Well, do we really need this at the front entryway?’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s a bench. People can require them to take off their shoes, and it’ll improve that air quality as we get into the house and move into there. So, be careful of that. But also, cleaners. Look at this, man. This stuff will just peel the grease right off of my stove. Well, why do you think it does it that easy? Yeah, because chances are, it’s probably not that healthy for you to get in there. Yeah, the things that work really, really well seem to not be very good for you.

Like, and that’s true with air fresheners as well. And again, we don’t want to spend, I don’t have the time to go into this in full depth, but in brief, most of the smelly things in your house are not great for you. At my house, we don’t use any air fresheners, air sprays in the bathroom. We don’t have any plugins that make a smell all the time, because none of that is good for you. Those are typically off-gassing VOCs or volatile organic compounds, and those smells are not good for you. So, you don’t need those, you don’t want them. Be cautious about bringing that, and there’s websites out there now that you can go on, and you can check VOC levels of different materials and all of that.

You know, I know we’re going to be wrapping up here. The last point I want to make is the builder finishes the house, he’s ready to turn it over to the homeowner. Joe and Susie homeowner are taking charge. As the builder, out of respect for your homeowners, you have to ensure that they understand the systems in there, that they know how to run the AC, the heating system, and, most importantly, how to change the filter in their system. It’s great in their system. If they don’t want to do it, then you set up a maintenance cycle where you can come over, make money, and change their filters for them every 6 months or whatever the case is. But maintenance on the house is just as important as everything we do up until occupant. That’s a great point, and let’s actually take two minutes and run through filtration real quick. We’ve learned a lot about this when we went through the COVID crisis not too long ago. Everyone is talking about MERV ratings.

If you’re not familiar, when you buy filters for your HVAC system, those filters have a MERV rating. MERV, Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, I believe is what it stands for, hopefully got that right. We want a higher MERV rating. Higher means better filtration. MERV 11 is generally regarded as what should be in most buildings these days. MERV 13 is even better. As we get up to MERV 15, we’re really close to HEPA quality, like what we use at hospitals for filtration. I have MERV 13 in my house. That’s typically what I use for filtration on most of my houses I build. But, as Steve said, it’s really important to make sure that we’re changing those filters and understanding the difference between units. Because, for instance, my dehumidifier at my house, I need to change that filter every 6 months. It’s a real thin filter. Whereas the filter on my HVAC system is a 2-inch filter, and a lot of the houses I build have 4-inch filters. The thicker filter means that there’s more material inside that filter that can catch more particles, so we might be able to go a little bit longer. A lot of the systems that I use have a one-year filter on the HVAC system. Mine in my house happens to be every 6 months that I need to change those. So, we need to be thinking about how often to maintain those because ultimately, those particles that are in suspension in the air, if we can filter those out now, we don’t worry about them going into our lungs.

So, we’re going to be cautious about what we bring into our houses. We’re also going to be cautious about the filtration that’s happening while we live in our houses. You know, I’m sorry. I know I can go on forever. But I do have just a couple of really quick points for you builders out there that say, ‘Hey, air quality, comfort, and stuff. We build a good house.’ Yeah, you probably don’t know if you do or don’t. But two discussions I always have with a client before we build the house, and as we design it, the question is, is that window a fixed window? Do we make that operable? And I always get the, ‘Steve, you don’t understand. We love having our windows open. We open them all spring. We love to have that breeze come in.’ I wait until the house is built. I give them about 6 months, and I go over there and go, ‘Let’s rehash that discussion that we had. Are you opening any windows?’ You know what, Steve? We should have made them more fixed.

Dan, at his house, he will say, inside my house is the best environment. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to open up the windows. The comfort and the air quality there. And, to put it in perspective, Dan’s house is a passive house that has an airtightness rating of about 0.44. We’ve done three or four subsequent tests because he’s good friends with the energy raider. So, over the last six years, it’s always been 44, 46, 45, somewhere in that range. It’s a sample of one, but it’s a testament that if you do it right, you get clients that are happy as can be. We’re going to go over blower door testing in a future episode, by the way, so stay tuned for more on that. Steve, let’s wrap this up. We’re on that third rung of the ladder. You want to summarize what we talked about today?

Again, it’s about control, right? If I want to develop comfort, I have to build a really good envelope. Then I have to have the right people sizing my equipment, and then that equipment has to be installed properly and commissioned properly. We didn’t mention that, but it needs to be commissioned properly. As far as health goes, the things we build with, the things that we bring into our house, and the things that piggyback us going in and out of our house. Think about it all the time every time you’re going in there. Take your shoes off, walk around in your socks, keep that house clean. I love it. And I’ll end with that quote that I used earlier from Joe Rick, ‘Dilution is not the solution to indoor pollution.’ I love that. There’s so much weight and meat to those words. This episode of Build Science 101 brought to you by our friends at Polygard. Now, this may be a name that you don’t know because in the past, I’ve made a lot of videos. In fact, they were one of our very first sponsors. You’ve heard me talk about Polywall, and you’ve seen me make a lot of videos about Aluma-Flash and Blue Barrier. Polygard is the parent company, and they’ve done a bit of a rebrand. They’ve sun-setted that Polywall name as a brand family, and some of the individual product names are changing as well. Same products, same great company. They’ve been around for 70 years, and they make some really bomber products. Steve, have you used any of the Polygard products before?

I was just recently introduced to them. Build Show Build Boston, our whole foundation system is coated with the Polygard products. The thing that I like about it the most is it’s a systems approach to waterproofing. They could have very easily just made the waterproofing and said, ‘Hey, here’s great waterproofing. Have at it.’ But they provided a dimple mat, and it’s not a dimple mat. They provided two different dimple mats because they understand that the water accumulation at the bottom might be greater than the water accumulation at the top. So, they have a totally different mat. They have their Blue Barrier product for that cold joint between the wall and the footing. So, it’s really great when there are companies out there that understand that there’s a differentiation in risk between the wall and that cold joint and that they develop products accordingly, create a system that, as an architect and a builder, we can put faith in. A base is not something you want to dig up a year later to try and find a leak. So, you have to put a system in there that we trust and believe in, and one that’s going to work. They have their Barrier System, but that dimple mat offers that water management on the outside of it. So, it doesn’t even really get challenged. Yeah, and this really ties in perfectly, Steve, with our Build Science 101 series. Steve and I have been talking about how water is the number one enemy, the number one killer of buildings, whether that’s groundwater, rainwater, water that splashes back against your house. You didn’t put gutters on, whatever. So, when we talk about these products that Polygard makes, these are really bomber products that are going to protect your house for the lifetime. Quick story with these guys, about a dozen years ago, when I stopped using house wrap, I realized I needed to up my game. I ran across this product called Aluma-Flash, now UV 240 peel-and-stick aluminum phaser. I recognized that another really good builder in town was using it. Here we are more than a decade later. Every well-built custom home in my town is wrapped with this silver facing, which is the Polygard product. The builders that are doing the really good products here in the South recognize this is the absolute best, most bomber way to build our house. So, that being said, big thanks to Polygard for sponsoring today’s video. All kinds of products that we didn’t even get to mention. Go check out more at polygard.com. Guys, we just finished up number three. Stay tuned for episode four. We’ll see you next time on the Build

Comments 1
  1. Sadly the relevant code clause in the New Zealand Building Code is:
    https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/1992/0150/latest/whole.html#DLM164969
    – G5. Interior Environment
    ObjectiveG5.
    “1 The objective of this provision is to:
    (a) Safeguard people from illness caused by low air temperature,
    (b) Safeguard people from injury or loss of amenity caused by inadequate activity space,
    (c) Safeguard people from injury caused by unsafe installations, and
    (d) Ensure that people with disabilities are able to carry out normal activities.”
    This is inadequate because the objective doesn’t properly define what a healthy Indoor Environment Quality is. There is no guidance on ventilation, indoor pollutants or relative humidity for example. Only temperature is defined as a concern; but then it gets worse:
    The stated healthy temperature to comply with this objective is 16 degrees
    “G5.3.1 Habitable spaces, bathrooms and recreation rooms shall have provision for maintaining the internal temperature at no less than 16°C measured at 750 mm above floor level, while the space is adequately ventilated.”
    and furthermore
    “Performance G5.3.1 shall apply only to old people’s homes and early childhood centres.”
    Dickensian

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