Posted by on Apr 3, 2012

Note: This is the second post in a multi-part series on Seth Anderson’s reports from the BEST3 Conference. To learn more about BEST and the conference by reading Part 1.

Seth Anderson, Architect, LEED AP+

I’m excited to be in the company of the 330 or so researchers, professors, and practicing professionals that are here at BEST3 to collaborate, learn, and expand the field building science. Our attendance is another example that at Ascent Architecture & Interiors, we lead the way in sustainable design and high performance buildings and strive to stay ahead of energy prices and building codes that are pushing buildings to become more air tight, better constructed, and ultimately more comfortable and healthy for the building occupants. And if there is just one thing I take away from today’s sessions, it is that as our buildings become more advance to deal with these sometimes conflicting goals, architects need to fully understand the building science behind the design decisions we make so we don’t cause an issue for every one we solve.

The morning sessions focused on the importance of air tightness of the building enclosure. Can you believe that as much as 20% of a buildings energy loss through the building enclosure can be attributed to air leaking through the building skin? Leaky  buildings can contribute also contribute to poor indoor air quality and uncomfortable and drafty spaces. For these reasons, it is important to make sure the exterior of the building is sealed tightly to prevent the uncontrolled passage of air. However, the tighter the building becomes, the more important the mechanical system becomes in bringing fresh air to the building occupants. The seminars today gave me a new set of proven, and scientifically tested, solutions to increase the air tightness of our projects.

One of the best way to design better buildings is to evaluate the success of previous designs. In the industry, we call these “lessons learned.” The stand out session from today was a case study of five Net-Zero homes. The presenter dispelled some traditionally held notions about the best way to design a zero-energy home, which could lead to big savings for the home owner. Some very commonly used techniques are proving to be not be cost effective, which helps architects reduce costs and achieve the same result. Lesson learned!

As a client of Ascent Architecture & Interiors, you can be assured that you are receiving the latest advice and solutions based on solid building science and technology through our commitment to continuing education such as the BEST Conference.

After all that learning, I think I deserve some great food and live music!