Durable Envelopes for Cold Climates

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CCHRC is working with industry partners to identify building envelope designs that can withstand healthy indoor humidity levels. The Mobile Test Lab is a trailer with nine test wall bays, each with a different configuration of studs and insulation—including a control wall with fiberglass batt insulation. We designed four walls with spray-foam manufacturers Demilec and Icynene to test how low-density spray polyurethane foam performs in the extreme cold climate of Alaska. Two wall cavities are filled with Thermo-Kool cellulose insulation.

Each wall has a Tyvek weather barrier and vinyl lap siding on the exterior, while the interior is finished with painted gypsum drywall. Each was instrumented with temperature, moisture, and relative humidity sensors. During the study, which will take place in Winter 2012, the lab will be maintained at 70ºF and 40% relative humidity with near neutral pressure (0 to 1 Pa).

 

Read the full report and a shorter snapshot below. 

DurableEnvelopesReport.pdf

Cellulose Moisture Snapshot

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Projects

Designs for Rural Alaska Walls Monitoring CCHRC demonstration homes for efficiency and moisture infiltration several years after construction.
Structural Insulated Panels Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are prefabricated building materials used in residential construction in Alaska. This project prepared resources for homeowners who want to learn about SIPs, where they are used in cold climates, and considerations for Alaska.
Safe Effective Affordable Retrofits Testing a new batch of wall systems that can provide affordable retrofit options.
Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) in Cold Climates Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) are whole house ventilation systems that exchange stale indoor air with fresh outside air, recovering both heat and moisture from the indoor air to save energy. They have the potential to improve indoor air quality in a cold dry climate like Interior Alaska.
Thermal Mass Study Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy, which can be useful when it comes to cold climate housing. This project clarifies the role of thermal mass in housing and includes a literature review and energy modeling with IDA Indoor Climate and Energy (ICE) software.