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Small Planet Supply Expands ThermalBuck Reach to the West Coast

BRINC Building Products, Inc. has expanded ThermalBuck distribution in the Northwestern U.S and Canada through a partnership with Small Planet Supply, a well-known regional high-performance building material supplier for over 10 years.  

Small Planet Workshop (the original company name) emerged from a division of West Coast Associates to support the growing demand for net-zero and passive house education and training in North America. The “workshop” side of high-performance building soon developed into a burgeoning business as a trusted building material supplier, specializing in materials designed for super-insulated, airtight structures.

“Adding exterior insulation is a no-brainer for most projects, and ThermalBuck eliminates the challenge that goes into detailing critical areas – like windows and doors,” said Kieran Lavelle, Sales Manager, Small Planet Supply. “This makes it a vital piece of the puzzle towards energy-efficiency and we’re proud to offer ThermalBuck alongside our other high-performance building products,” said Lavelle.

“Adding exterior insulation is a no-brainer for most projects, and ThermalBuck eliminates the challenge that goes into detailing critical areas – like windows and doors.”

– Kieran Lavelle, Sales Manager, Small Planet Supply 

While Small Planet Supply has grown the materials side of the business, they’ve maintained their reputation as an excellent resource for building science knowledge and installation expertise. Year-round training and workshops remain a priority – both in the U.S and Canada. Based in Vancouver, BC in Canada, and Tumwater, WA in the US, Small Planet Supply services customers in WA, OR, CA, ID, NV, and parts of MT, UT, and AZ.

 


ThermalBuck on the West Coast 

The building community on the west coast has initiated the highest standards in the country for energy-efficient and sustainable design for years – California in particular, setting the bar for other regions to follow.

ThermalBuck was first introduced out West in 2016, as part of the Wise Workforce Instructions for Standards and Efficiency program (WISE), a combined effort of ConSol, the State of California Energy Commission (CEC) , and the California Homebuilding Foundation (CHF).

The WISE program was designed to advance the education and implementation of high performance building solutions for building professionals in preparation for Title 24. It allows industry experts to share best practices and real-world solutions to building code and efficiency standards with California builders. BRINC Building Products, Inc. was selected as a participating manufacturer, and ThermalBuck is referenced in the 2017 CASE Initiative High Performance Walls Report.


In 2017, BRINC Building Products President and developer of ThermalBuck, John Brooks, was invited to present in San Diego at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference, the largest homebuilding trade show on the West Coast.

ThermalBuck was also chosen by Professional Builder magazine as “Best of 2017 PCBC – Parade of Products”, and enjoyed recognition as part of a specially constructed display of building material innovations that would help builders achieve Title 24 standards.

By the year’s end, John Brooks was named Hive Top 50 Honoree by Builder Magazine, and honored at their annual awards celebration in Los Angeles.


Small Planet – Big Opportunity 

Until now, all ThermalBuck sales were handled by long-term national distributor of ThermalBuck, Alpen HPP – shipping out of their Niwot, Colorado warehouse.

“Alpen does a fantastic job working with passive house customers all over the US, but we’ve been looking to expand out distribution network with a physical footprint on the West coast. Education and a desire to promote sustainability drives the mission of Small Planet Supply – that really matters to us when choosing distributors”, said John Brooks. “Developing the right network to service the needs of our customers is a challenge – and a priority. We’re proud the team at Small Planet has chosen ThermalBuck to complement their line of high-performance building materials,” said Brooks, President of BRINC Building Products, Inc. “We look forward to a future of exceeding the expectations of the high-performance building community.”

Alpen HPP remains a national distributor for ThermalBuck, focusing on the passive house market. Canada is now serviced by both Performance Haus, Inc., and Small Planet Supply.

 

“We know that education and a desire to promote sustainability drives the mission of Small Planet Supply – that really matters to us when choosing distributors.”

 – John Brooks, President, BRINC Building Products, Inc.


ThermaCork exterior wall application at a school in Lisbon, Portugal.

Small Planet Supply distributes a wide range of building materials in the categories of air barriers, insulation, and mechanical systems. They also have their own building material success story – Thermacork. 

This 100% natural cork insulation made from the outer bark of the Oak tree, was developed and launched by Small Planet Supply, and has a multitude of applications – including roofing, flooring, ceilings, exterior and interior walls. walls.

ThermalBuck joins a respected line of high performance building products at Small Planet Supply, which includes:

  • Hannoband
  • Havelock
  • Henry
  • Klimaguard
  • Prosoco
  • Rockwool
  • Siga
  • ThermaCork
  • Zehnder

ThermalBuck Workshops 

Small Planet is offering 3 workshops to demonstrate installation techniques for multiple building envelope applications. Join ThermalBuck creator John Brooks July 9th in Vancouver, BC; July 11th in Tumwater, WA; or July 12th in Portland, OR. These workshops are free, and open to any interested homeowners or members of the local building communities. For more information and to receive notice regarding future workshops, please visit smallplanetsupply.com.

 


For purchasing information through Small Planet Supply, please contact one of their 2 distribution centers, or contact Steve Lamburg at the sales office in Eugene, Oregon at  (541) 521-6270

Tumwater, Washington  1-855-367-7442
Vancouver, BC 1-855-367-7442.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas Builder’s Passion for Passive House Comes to Life

Most people would assume it makes zero sense to build a passive house in a hot climate. The indoor/outdoor temperate differences aren’t as extreme as they tend to be in other climate zones.

But a passive house still offers a huge performance increase from traditional building methods, and a great improvement in the indoor air quality – a major attraction to homeowners. Not to mention the reduction in energy bills. In a cold climate, a passive house is projected to reduce energy expenses by 90%. In a hot climate, more like 70%*.  Still a signifiant savings, and worth the investment in additional time and materials up front.

 

Choosing Investment vs. Expense

From the financial side, the theory is that you’re spending more money on performance, then that money gets divided over the life of your mortgage. If you can spend $30 more a month on a mortgage, while achieving $100 savings a month in utilities – you’re at a major advantage.

Not only does it make a lot of sense, it’s something energy efficient builder Mark Larson, CPHC, Built Green Texas, can readily convey to his clients as a professional builder and consultant. 

“When you allocate your money this way, you’re choosing to invest in the value of your home, not the expense of living in it.

-Mark Larson, CPHC, builder, Built Green Custom Homes, Austin, Texas, and homeowner

 

Performance Metrics Make the Difference

Mark Larson started his career in corporate real estate. He decided to make the leap into building because he loved that side of the business. If he was going to completely change careers and build houses, he wanted them to be the best ones on the market.

That’s how he discovered passive house design. It’s the most stringent building metric in the world, but also the only one that is performance based. It’s not prescriptive like LEED, meaning certified to operate a certain way in theory. Passive houses MUST perform as they are designed, or they don’t achieve passive house certification. They have to hit certain metrics for air tightness, measured with a “blower door test”.  The fact that the performance is completely measurable was much of the appeal.

“I’m a huge fan of performance based metrics – which is exactly what passive house offers. I knew my family would live and breathe in the highest indoor air quality. It really matters.”

-Mark Larson, CPHC, builder, Built Green Custom Homes, Austin, Texas, and homeowner

 

Blower Door Testing

IAQ Texas conducted the initial blower door testing. But Mark didn’t get the results he was hoping

for, so he employed his own blower door contraption to help find leaks. Mark used a 2500 cfm construction ventilation fan and taped roof underlayment around the door opening.

He found some opportunities for better air sealing between the top plates, and at plate boards butted together. The attic hatch was also a source of leaks. Zip tape was sealed into a 90 degree corner, but air leaked out the ends of the length of tape. Some random nail holes and a few casements windows needed slight adjustments to better seal when closed.

Once those changes were made, Mark’s passive house rater from ATS Engineering did another blower door test before adding interior insulation. These results surpassed Mark’s expectations, and made it below the Passive House metric of .6ACH, and hit .57ACH. (via instagram, Feb 1, 2019). This figure is expected to drop even lower once interior insulation and drywall are added.

The Building Envelope

Mark spent a significant amount of time researching the materials he wanted to use for his home. For the building envelope, he used 2″ x 6″ studs, 16″ on center, Zip sheathing, Rockwool ComfortBoard exterior insulation, and Alpen windows. He had discovered ThermalBuck years prior, and was excited about finally having the chance to use it on his own home.

“ThermalBuck simplifies the water, air, and thermal control layers of window and door installation. It solves a specific problem of how and were to flash windows within continuous insulation. ThermalBuck will always be a tool in my design toolbox to solve the complexities of “outies” in CI,” said Larson. 

“It solves a specific problem of how and were to flash windows within continuous insulation.”

-Mark Larson, CPHC, builder, Built Green Custom Homes, Austin, Texas, and homeowner

 

Passive House Austin

Mark is part of a dedicated group of building industry professionals working to make passive design well-known in the Texas market. Passive House Austin promotes the principles of passive design through events, podcasts, workshops, and most notably, the Humid Climate Conference. Held annually in Austin, the Humid Climate Conference recently featured Joe Lstiburek, widely recognized as the leading building science expert in the industry. It draws building professionals from all over the South, to focus on issues specifically related to their climate – offering a huge benefit over national or international events.

To learn more about Passive House Austin, and view more photos from the recent Huber sponsored happy-hour event at Mark Larson’s passive house build with IAQ Texas and Positive Energy, click here.


Helpful Links & More Info:

Mark Larson Instagram
Built Green Custom Homes, Austin Texas
Passive House Alliance – US

* homebuilder estimates from personal research

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

 

PHIUS Verified Installation with Alpen

Alpen 925 Zenith Nail Fin Window + 2.5″ ThermalBuck

Energy efficient windows are an essential component of any high-performance building. But the installation was always a challenge for nail flange windows, which have to be mounted on the same plane as the exterior insulation.

ThermalBuck teamed up with North-American passive house window manufacturer Alpen High Performance Products to introduce their PHIUS Verified Window Installation Detail featuring the Alpen 925 Series Fiberglass window with 2.5″ ThermalBuck.

PHIUS Verified Window Installation Data:

Alpen 925 Zenith Nail Fin Window + 2.5″ ThermalBuck 

ThermalBuck effectively limits thermal bridging at the rough opening, provides a superior air & water barrier than a wood buck, and also a strong support for the weight of the window.

Passive house designers and builders now have the data they need to confidently include ThermalBuck into their specifications.


The Alpen HPP Zenith Series ZR-9/ 925 window features up to R-9.1 insulation, 99.5% UV protection, insulated frames, and Alpen Glass, Alpen’s renowned Suspended Film Technology. Every Alpen window has 9 key design features that make these highly engineered windows some of the best in the industry. Read more about the technology and craftsmanship of Alpen windows here.

Alpen High Performance Products is a national distributor for ThermalBuck. thinkalpen.com

Planning is Key to Net Zero Deep Energy Retrofit

You’d have to live under a rock (completely sustainable housing) if you didn’t realize that climate change, and rapidly increasing energy prices are a hot topic in today’s world. But why is the focus on the building industry?

Buildings consume nearly half of all the energy produced in the United States.

Globally, the percentages are even higher. Which explains why much of Europe is paving the way in both commercial and residential energy-efficient building.

It’s important to understand that energy-efficient building is about more than energy-efficient materials. A great deal of planning is needed to ensure the proper integration of materials and design, to achieve the best possible outcome.


Energy-Efficient Building

Passive Design, and Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) are the two primary concepts for energy-efficient building. Passive Design uses a combination of climate-based passive and active design strategies to minimize the usage of energy, materials, and water.

Passive homes focus on the absolute minimal amount of energy use possible to heat and cool the building.

In 2015, the Passive House Institute of the US released the only passive building standard based upon climate-specific comfort and performance. The goal was to find the right balance between the up-front investment in a passive build, and the long-term payback, to achieve the most comfortable and cost effective building possible. Learn more at phius.org.

The basic premise of a Net Zero Energy Building is that they generate as much energy as they consume.

Designed to minimize the amount of energy they need to operate, and with renewable energy systems that meet their energy needs. Solar, wind, and geothermal are examples of renewable energy systems.  Design considerations to achieve net zero energy include passive solar design, triple pane or triple glazed windows, and high performance building envelopes. The US Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home program has been working to promote Net Zero building since 2008. Learn more at energy.gov.

Both Passive Home and Net Zero Energy Home certifications are generally based on the HERS Home Energy Rating Score, and certified by third parties, such as the Living Building Challenge.  To learn more about the certification process, click here.


The Deep Energy Retrofit

Most of the discussion about passive or net zero design centers around new construction.  It just makes good sense to plan ahead for the future. However, considering that the majority of the building inventory in the US was built prior to 1990, there is even more opportunity for energy savings in renovating and retrofitting existing buildings.

As the experts at Green Building Advisor explain, the process usually begins with a home energy audit and building analysis. Energy usage reductions are achieved through a whole-building approach, including insulation, heating and cooling systems, lighting, appliances, and water usage. A typical simple energy retrofit focuses only on individual upgrades, like heating and cooling.

Deep Energy Retrofits are a whole-building approach to maximizing energy efficiency.

The key to success in a deep energy retrofit, is utilizing skilled building science professionals who have the experience planning the integration of these systems into existing structures. Look to organizations such as the Building Performance Institute to direct you to certified professionals in the industry. That’s how we found Bill McKnight, CEO, Energy Conservation Specialists.

 

WATCH:  Net Zero Deep Energy Retrofit with ECS and ThermalBuck  

 

With over 20 years in the field of deep energy retrofits, Bill has achieved both BPI Accreditation and Energy Star Certification, teaches building science at Ulster University in NY, and has been featured in Home Energy Magazine. To learn more about the historic renovation project we worked on with Energy Conservation Specialists, and see how ThermalBuck was used to create a thermally efficient building envelope, read the full installation story here.


The Poplar Network features a clear-cut piece by Rob Freeman that explains the difference between Passive and Net Zero. For a more detailed reference, an excellent resource is Net Zero Energy Buildings, by Steven Winters Associates, Inc., a respected authority on building science and efficiency. It was featured in 2016 in the The Whole Building Design Guide, a program of the National Institute of Building Sciences which focuses on the latest technology and “whole building” design techniques. Data was also sourced from architecture2030, whose mission is to address climate change problems with design solutions of the built environment.