Posts From November, 2020

The Virtue of Disruption

By Aaron Smith
The Virtue of Disruption
The history of innovation is one of scrappy smaller competitors wielding disruption like a pickaxe—steadily chipping away at the old order. Ten years ago, Tesla was a nobody in an industry defined by legacy players. Today, the legacy players can’t keep up. Tesla’s market cap is almost five times Ford and GM’s combined. A similar story has played out across industries. Airbnb “happened” to hospitality, Uber happened to transportation, Netflix happened to Hollywood, Robinhood happened to stock trading, and so on. But somehow, homebuilding has remained a stubborn exception. Industry incumbents have clung to their old ways. But any safety they still feel in this paradigm is a false sense of security. I’m not sure I could have said that with confidence even just a year ago. But 2020 has changed everything. As the pandemic raged, Americans did not turn to LEED-certified office buildings. They turned to their houses as the last line of defense against the virus. As the worst... read more

The Real Way to Manage Basement Moisture

Sponsored by Dörken Systems Inc. -- by Joe Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng., ASHRAE Fellow, Principal, Building Science Corporation

Basements were never intended to be lived in. In the old days, we called them cellars. We stored vegetables and coal and wood in them. They smelled damp… they were damp. Now we put bedrooms, entertainment centers, and nurseries in them. We began to live in every cubic volume of space rather than just on the main levels of houses. We expanded the conditioned space and basements were the first priority of making that conversion (Figure 1). Figure 1 Building above grade is tough enough, but below grade? It is the most difficult space to get right. Space in basements is cheap, right? Nope. The basement has to hold the building up. That alone is a big deal. The basement has to keep the groundwater, soil gas, and water vapor out, and keep the heat in during the winter and the heat out during the summer. We are going to avoid the structural part…mostly. Instead, we are going to focus on the other parts. Basement foundations need to be water managed. Water-managed basement... 

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