Experts Reflect on Top Green Products at IBS

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[caption id="attachment_17230" align="alignright" width="300"] Peter Pfeiffer, Dr. Joe Lstiburek and Kathy Browning (l to r) discuss some of their favorite products from the IBS exhibit floor.[/caption] The International Builders’ Show (IBS) is a great place to learn from leading professionals in the construction industry. The High Performance Building Zone utilized its happy hour sessions for experts such as building sciences guru Dr. Joe Lstiburek and architect Peter Pfeiffer who shared their insights on high-performance building practices, trends and hot products with IBS attendees. Moderated by design consultant Kathy Browning, this session examined the panelists’ favorite finds from the IBS exhibit floor in the following building categories: Indoor Air Quality: Tight building envelopes are essential for energy conservation, but ventilators and dehumidifiers are necessary to help regulate pollutants and bring in fresh air in tight homes. Notable products included dampers to control and balance the outdoor air intake against active exhaust systems, duct silencers to minimize noise from loud mechanicals, and improved dehumidifiers to help prevent mold. Smart design is also critical, and so is educating your customers on the importance of reducing contaminants for better indoor air quality. “Design your home to be healthier to live in by doing things like separating the garage from the house, making sure your clients are aware of the benefit of airing out the carpet for two days before they install the padding and letting furniture air out,” Pfeiffer noted. Water Management: Improper drainage results in standing water or prolonged exposure to moisture, which can lead to building issues such as rot and mold. Enter products such as perforated garage tiles with a built-in 3/8-inch gap, flashing bibs that can fit on varying sizes of lumber to protect deck joints, a plastic strip with honeycomb elements to provide drainage for roof tiles, as well as a great two-step lining example of how insulated concrete forms (ICFs) can be weatherproofed. An easy way to remember good water management practices, Lstiburek joked: “If you want to save cash, flash. Don’t be a dope — slope.” Thermal Energy: The right products can help ensure heat remains in the home as needed. Manufacturers are looking at ways they can improve existing products, such as the aluminum sliding glass door that caught Pfeiffer’s eye because of its robust thermal bridge, or retool materials for new applications, such as the non-conductive fiberglass rebar Lstiburek spotted that won’t rust and is specially coated to resist the high alkalinity of concrete. “This is one of those things, when [Lstiburek] brought the sample back, that made us stop and say, ‘Why didn’t we think of that?’” stated Browning. Framing: A structurally sound frame ensures the resiliency of a building, so products such as slightly longer oriented strand board (OSB) to create stronger connections between roof sheathing and wall sheathing can help nails remain intact. Pfeiffer also appreciated the synthetic roof decking available to protect roof structures from deteriorating, but wood enthusiast Lstiburek was quick to point out that this can sometimes act as a shortcut for better building practices. “I think you shouldn’t compensate for poor flashing and poor workmanship by putting in materials that you wouldn’t have to use if you weren’t a moron,” he stated dryly. Pfeiffer also acknowledged modular awning products for windows and doors to help protect against solar radiation. Good design can also prevent unwanted heat gain. “I see too many green homes or green buildings where they have not paid attention to the solar radiation or heat gain of the windows,” he shared. “It’s not green in my view if you don’t keep the radiation off the glass, especially afternoon sun.” Building Envelopes: Improvements to building techniques, such as larger air gaps to provide more back ventilation for stucco, or incorporating some synthetic materials, such as plastic exterior trim, can help improve the resiliency of a building. No matter what products you decide to incorporate, though, Pfeiffer stressed the importance of utilizing a good architect to ensure that your homes not only have the most efficient products, but take advantage of the best design practices for efficiency as well. “The two most important decisions you can make are the way you program your project and the way you design your project,” Pfeiffer noted. “Otherwise, you’re putting lipstick on a pig. And it’s important lipstick. But you’ve still got to make sure the design responds to the climate.” The full High Performance Product Trends Happy Hour session — complete with building science best practices and wry humor — is available online.

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