Insulation, Energy and Durability: Myths, Misconceptions and Reality

This course is about one and a half hours long and it is perhaps the most fun of all the BSFC courses. the context this course provides for energy-efficient design is essential for every architect and designer, not just to inform our daily professional practice, but also to articulate clearly to colleagues and clients as we explain our design priorities. As with all BSFC courses, there are no prerequisites – the subject matter is challenging, but the presentation is accessible and immediately applicable to recent graduates and experienced professionals alike.

Receive 2.5 American Institute of Architects continuing education credits while you learn

We tend to understand insulation almost entirely in terms of energy – it is, after all, the energy code that governs how much of it we are to use – but there’s more to love about insulation. In fact, insulation in walls has only a moderate effect on thermal performance (behind glazing ratio and air tightness). It has a similarly moderate, but important, effect on occupant comfort (thermal and acoustic). But it’s insulation’s least obvious (and most misunderstood) contribution to the building enclosure that is its most critical: its substantial effect on durability (condensation control). Indeed, much of what we think we know about insulation is incorrect, incomplete, and inadequate. This presentation is about where we go wrong, how we can go right, and how to avoid missing the forest for the trees.

This course is about one and a half hours long and it is perhaps the most fun of all the BSFC courses. (I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good debunking every now and then?!) I think the context this course provides for energy-efficient design is essential for every architect and designer, not just to inform our daily professional practice, but also to articulate clearly to colleagues and clients as we explain our design priorities. As with all BSFC courses, there are no prerequisites – the subject matter is challenging, but the presentation is accessible and immediately applicable to recent graduates and experienced professionals alike.

After attending this presentation, participants should be able to:
Rank the three most important factors related to the energy efficiency of the building enclosure, and describe why they’re ranked in that (surprising) order.
Describe the four approaches to condensation control in wall design and the most common ways those four approaches are applied in typical residential and commercial construction.
Describe the concept of convective looping in cavity insulated walls, and explain why the addition of exterior insulation reduces its effect.
Identify the specific commonly proposed design changes to standard cavity-insulated walls that would make them more risky or less risky from a condensation-control perspective

Fundamentals of Residential Ventilation for Architects and Builders

Frequently Asked Questions

How hard is this course, and are there any prerequisites?
The subject matter itself is challenging and certainly requires an engaged mind! But the only prerequisites are a general familiarity with the way architectural firms are organized and an understanding of standard architectural conventions of representation: how to make sense of plans, sections, and elevations.
What if I’m not an architect or architect-in-training?
You are of course very welcome to take the classes anyway and will certainly benefit from it! That said, the course presumes that participants are able to read architectural drawings. Most builders will be very comfortable with the subject matter and how it is presented.
Is this class appropriate for architects practicing outside of North America?
Physics is the same everywhere, but building practices are not. This class is tailored for a North American audience.
How long is this course on insulation?
The course is about two and a half hours. It is offered lecture-style and you may take it on-demand whenever you wish (and as many times as you wish). There is also an accompanying course packet that you may download. The course packet contains a written summary of the material presented, plus all of the images and photos shown in the video.
Do you offer student discounts?
No. These courses are an investment... and they're a good one! The courses are designed not just to help you now, but also to serve as a resource and a reference throughout your career. (And anyway we're all students!)
Is it okay if I share my login credentials with a friend so that we can take the course together?
No. The course cost covers a single user. Sharing your login credentials is stealing.
But what if I really prefer to learn in a group setting?
I would be very happy to prepare a custom course just for you! My rates start at $5,000 for a day-long course. Email me at buildingsciencefightclub@gmail.com for more information.
How do I get AIA credit for the classes?
Your information will be submitted to the AIA after you complete a short series of multiple choice “summative assessment questions” after each session. You must answer 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass. (But don’t stress about this: The classes and the handouts prepare you very well for the quizzes, and there’s no limit on taking or retaking them).
Is this course suitable for both residential and commercial designers?
Yes, the principles of building science apply equally to residential and commercial architecture, and the examples and details presented draw from both.
Is there a time limit to taking the classes?
The videos are on-demand, so you can take them on your own schedule, and you may take them as many times as you want. They are approved for AIA continuing education credit through October 2023.
Can I watch the videos when I'm not connected to the Internet?
No. The videos can only be streamed with an Internet connection. However, each video is accompanied by a downloadable PDF course packet that includes a written summary of the technical material as well as all of the drawings and illustrations from the video. These can be used offline for reference and reinforcement.
Do you offer group discounts?
No. There is a group discount for Building Science for Architects, but not for any of the shorter classes. The price is just the price.
Can I purchase a multiple-user license so that a group can take the course at the same time?
These courses are designed for individual learning. And they're designed to be a reference that you return to throughout your career as particular concepts become newly relevant with new projects. Your login credentials are for you, and you alone. That said, lots of small groups take these courses “together” on the same schedule and meet offline to discuss them. Kind of like a book club. The course packet can be used to facilitate group discussion by serving as an outline to guide the conversation.