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PHRC conference March 2016 John at booth explaining ThermalBuck benefits and features to attendees and presenters

Building Science Tradition Carries On in Happy Valley

The welcoming staff of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center (PHRC) organized an excellent line up of presenters and exhibitors for the 24th Annual Housing and Land Development Conference, held on March 2-3, 2016 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA as part of the 2016 Industry Education Week. ThermalBuck™ was proud to be one of the sponsors of Housing Day, and enjoyed the chance to catch a few of the outstanding presentations throughout the conference.

Theresa Weston, Ph.D, a member of the DuPont™ Building Knowledge Center, presented “Choosing an Insulation Strategy, a highly-informative discussion about what factors really count when planning an insulation strategy, and how to compare and contrast the products available with the specific needs of each project.  Example wall systems were reviewed, as well as the criteria for an effective R-value.  Cost components and criteria are major factors, but not just immediate investments of materials and labor.  Long-term costs are a significant factor, in both regards to performance, and reliability.

Our next session was entitled “Energy and Heat Recovery Ventilators (ERV/HRV): Design + Installation Best Practices for Balanced Ventilation Systems in Houses and Apartment Buildings.”  Mechanical ventilation in a structure has traditionally been limited to kitchen and bath exhaust fans, to help with spot control of both moisture and odors.  With the continual advancements in building techniques and materials focused on tighter building envelopes, and the updates in the 2012 IECC, the demand for whole-house ventilation has become much more significant.

Presenter John Semmelhack of Think-Little, focused on two specific whole-house mechanical ventilation systems, ERV’s and HRV’s.  John’s in-depth presentation showed us how to navigate the challenges of understanding exactly how ERV’s and HRV’s work, what the difference is, and how to decide which ventilation system would be the right fit for a structure.  Once a decision is made, the costs and functions of each different product available on the market can be significant.  John’s extensive knowledge of the variables of these systems was extremely helpful, and also reinforced the benefits of utilizing experienced consultants for specific aspects of a project.  One of the most beneficial pieces of information was a comparison of product certification labels attributed to each system, through both the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) and the Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). While both of these well-respected organizations certify products,  knowing how to analyze the specific data on the labels is crucial to achieving the performance outcome that is desired.

Nothing is quite as costly as a lack of experience when making decisions, and these two presenters truly showed the value of gathering input and research, the importance of due diligence in understanding how to evaluate products and systems, and the need to make project-specific decisions for the best possible outcome.


HiResPHRCLogoThe PHRC is truly an excellent resource for builders, architects, engineers, contractors, manufacturers, anyone involved in the building industry in Pennsylvania.  If you haven’t yet been to one of their conferences, or participated in one of their webinars, we recommend you becoming a member, and including them as a valuable resource for building science advancements in the future.

 For another great resource on “Whole-House Mechanical Ventilation Code, Safety and Performance Considerations” for low-rise residential buildings, please visit homeinnovation.com.

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