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ThermalBuck to Exhibit at Humid Climate Conference

ThermalBuck joins our high performance partners from Alpen windows to exhibit at the 2018 Humid Climate Conference in Austin, TX, on May 21st – 22nd. We will showcase our joint PHIUS Verified Psi-Installation, featuring the Alpen 925 Zenith Nail Fin window with 2.5″ ThermalBuck.

Hot, humid climates are not what usually comes to mind when talking about passive design. Historically, the focus has been on buildings with heavy heating needs, not cooling. Everything changed with the release of the PHIUS+ 2015 building standard, which forced the building industry to reconsider passive house design as an economically viable option for humid climates.

The Austin, Texas chapter of the PHIUS is a major advocate for building science education and training in humid climates. They recognized the need for an annual event to broaden the reach of their work, and bring together professionals in similar climates for a shared exchange of ideas and learning. The first Humid Climate Conference was held in 2016, and is rapidly becoming a notable event in the building industry.

“Our mission is to advocate for the adoption of the PHIUS+ 2015 standard in the greater Austin, TX area through education, governmental petition, and targeted industry efforts.”

– Passive House Austin (PHAUS), as quoted on passivehouseaustin.org 


2018 Humid Climate Conference

This year’s event will be held at the A&T Conference Center in Austin, Texas, and provides the opportunity to earn 8 hours of CEUs, with an impressive lineup of speakers and invaluable networking.

Monday begins with one of the most recognizable names in building science, Joseph Lstiburek, presenting, “Water Molecule & 4th State Moisture, Materials, Enclosure” at 10 am. It ends with sought-after media personality and building science promotor Matt Risinger of Risinger & Co., presenting “Lessons Learned in the Evolution of High Performance Enclosures”.

Tuesday’s lineup features a full day of speakers, and wraps up with an after-party at 5:30 pm. The two-day event features a number of sponsors and exhibiting companies, such as the increasingly popular Building Science Podcast, an outreach of Positive Energy, a residential engineering firm in Austin. For a full list of event sponsors, click here.  


ThermalBuck + Alpen HPP

Alpen 925 series fiberglass window with 2.5" ThermalBuck window buck ThermalBuck and Alpen are an ideal fit for architects and builders looking for the optimal way to install high performance nail flange windows with continuous insulation.

Alpen is a pioneer in the glazing industry, known for super-high performance insulated glass and award-winning fiberglass windows. Alpen designs and builds some of the most energy efficient window and door products in the world out of their Niwot, Colorado headquarters. They are the first North American manufacturer of passive house certified windows and doors, and offer superior technical support for their customers. Learn more at visit thinkalpen.com.

Take a look below at this quick Q&A with Alpen behind-the-scenes at one of our first Alpen + ThermalBuck installations, in Orderville, Utah.  


For more behind the scenes videos from this Alpen window installation, visit thermalbuck.com.


For additional information about the Humid Climate Conference and to register for this year’s event, visit humidclimateconference.org. You can also follow the conference updates on instagram. To learn more about Passive House Austin, click here


Building Codes – Get Into the Zone

Building codes provide the minimum requirements for what all builders have to do (in order to follow the law, that is) when constructing and maintaining buildings.The variances between building codes in different states or even different regions within states has everything to do with one main consideration – the climate.

Climate has a significant impact on building codes, energy codes in particular.

What makes perfect sense for good moisture management in one climate varies wildly from that of another region.  It can even be quite different within one state. California is the most varied state – Marine, Hot-Dry, Mixed-Dry, and Cold. Builders really have to understand the particular climate they’re working with in order to follow good building science principles.

ICC Climate Zone Map

Surprisingly, prior to 2004 there was no universal climate zone map for the U.S. for use with building codes. At that time, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) used 38 different climate groupings, while the IECC used 33 different zones based on county boundaries. That’s a lot of climate chaos.

Recognizing the need for an easier way to define climate, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (in conjunction with Building America) prepared a simplified map, and the 2004 IECC Supplement was the first model energy code to adopt this new climate zone map (map from ICC shown above).

Temperature & Humidity

Temperature and humidity are the two primary factors that influence the 8 climate zones in the U.S. Each of the eight zones are further divided into five climate “categories”:

  • 8  Subarctic  (Alaska only)
  • 7  Very Cold
  • 6  Cold
  • 5  Cold
  • 4  Mixed Humid or Mixed Dry
  • 3  Hot-Humid or Hot-Dry (some Marine)
  • 2  Hot-Humid or Marine
  • 1  Hot-Humid

If you’re a true building science guru, you’ll want to better understand something called “degree days”, or accumulated temperature calculations. The Energy Vanguard Blog has an excellent piece by building science expert Allison Bailes III, that dives deeper into temperature and moisture divisions.

Climate-Based Resources for Builders 

Considering that several states are in multiple climate zones, the DOE Building Best Practices Series issued the “Guide to Determining Climate Regions by County”, a helpful resource for builders listing every county within that state, and which climate category to follow in each county.

There are multiple climate-based Best Practices guides available for builders through the DOE Building America Program, which focus on real-world case studies that demonstrate solutions to improve whole-house energy performance for new and existing homes in the five major climate regions.

For a direct link to these climate-based case guides for all climates, visit energy.gov.  

The DOE Building TechDOE Building America logonologies Program works to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in the U.S. through educating builders on better building practices, and technological advancements in materials and techniques. Energy-Star and Zero-Energy Ready are just a a few of their recognizable efforts in place and on track to meet significant goals by 2020.