Building a Home

Building Components

This cut-away house shows a home's thermal shell and building components - the "Systems Approach" to building a new home. Optimum efficiency cannot be achieved by selecting only a few quality components. The overall plan must be considered.

Side cut out of house

1. Basement Floor

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4-inch concrete floor

4-inch concrete floor with drain tile and sump pit, min 6-mil poly with taped seams

4-inch concrete floor, exterior / interior drain tile sealed radon mitigation sump pit system, 4-6 inches of aggregate, min R-10 XPS (Under-Slab) insulation on all edges and beneath entire floor area, 6-mil high density poly with taped seams

2. Slab on Grade Including Walkout Basements

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4-inch concrete floor, R-10 insulation from slab edge two foot vertical or insulate slab edge and two feet horizontal – on all sides

4-inch concrete floor, R-10 insulation on all slab edges and beneath entire floor area, min. 6-mil poly with taped seams

4-inch concrete floor, 4-6 inches of aggregate, min. R-10 XPS   (Under-Slab) insulation on all edges and beneath entire floor  area, 6-mil high-density poly with taped seams

3. Floors Over Unconditioned Space Including Cantilevered Floors

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R-30 cavity insulation with subfloor contact or full cavity insulation minimum R-19

R-30 cavity blown insulation with contact on all six sides and R-5 insulating sheathing

R-30 cavity blown insulation with contact on all six sides, R-10 insulating sheathing, and  airtight sealing

4. Basement - Concrete Walls

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8-inch concrete walls with R-10 continuous or R-13 cavity with standard below grade waterproofing system

8-inch concrete walls with R-13 insulation and minimum R-5 continuous interior or exterior foam insulation with water proofing membrane

8-inch concrete walls with R-13 insulation and minimum R-10 continuous interior or exterior foam insulation with hydroscopic water proofing system

5. Sill-Box -- Band Joist Area

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R-20 cavity insulation or R-13 cavity with R-5 continuous insulation

R-20 cavity insulation or R-13 cavity with R-5 continuous insulation and airtight sealing (gaskets,caulking, or foams)

R-20 spray foam

6. Stud Walls

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2 X 6 Walls with R-20 cavity insulation or 2 X 4 wall with R-13 cavity with R-5 continuous insulation

2 X 6 Walls with R-20 cavity blown insulation and R-5 insulating sheathing

2 X 6 Walls with R-20 cavity blown insulation and R-10 insulating sheathing, with OVE framing, 24” oc, insulated headers, ladder blocking, 2 stud corners

7. Windows & Glass Doors

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U-Factor .35 or less, with proper flashing and slope drainage

U-Factor .30 or less, Low “E” coating, gas filled, with proper flashing, and slope drainage

Triple-pane glass, Low “E” coating, gas filled, with proper flashing, and slope drainage

8. Ceiling Areas

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R-38 blown insulation, with insulation contact – air tight (IC-AT) recessed can lights, sealing all penetrations

R-45 blown insulation, with insulation contact – air tight (IC-AT) recessed can lights, use of energy trusses, advanced sealing all penetrations from living space into unconditioned areas

R-60 blown insulation, with insulation contact – air tight (IC-AT) recessed can lights, use of energy trusses, advanced sealing all penetrations from living space into unconditioned areas

9. Lighting

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High efficiency lighting in at least 50% of the permanently installed light fixtures, CFLs or LEDs

High efficiency lighting in at least 75% of the permanently installed light fixtures, CFLs or LEDs

High efficiency lighting in at least 75% of the permanently installed light fixtures, CFLs or LEDs plus motion sensing CFLs, LEDs, an advanced sealing of any penetrations in envelope used for lighting

10. HVAC

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Furnace with minimum 13 SEER central air conditioner or 8 HSPF heat pump

16 SEER, 9 HSPF air source heat pump with variable speed air handler or 90% AFUE sealed combustion fossil  furnace with variable speed blower

Variable capacity geothermal heat pump

Note: Proper sizing required, Manual J or  equivalent in all  applications.

11. Ductwork

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All ducts, air handlers, filter boxes, and building cavities  used as ducts shall be sealed and if any duct work is outside   of conditioned space, insulated R-8 supply, R-6 for all others, and duct leakage test

Combination of mastic and UL181 foil tape. Supply and return duct systems should be within the confines of conditioned  space with little or no flex duct

All duct work, supply and return hard ducted and sealed. Supply and return duct systems should be within the confines of conditioned space with little or no flex duct, air leakage  tested, sized correctly, and balanced

Note: Proper fabrication/sizing according to Manual D or equivalent in all applications.

12. Ventilation

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Bath fans that meet ASHRAE 62.2

Exhaust or Supply only ventilation low sone (sound) rating and that meet performance criteria of the bathroom’s required exhaust

Source point whole house ventilation with a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) or Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV)

Note: All ventilation must meet ASHRAE 62.2

13. Water Heaters

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Standard storage electric or fossil fuel water heater

Heat pump or high efficient fossil fuel sealed combustion water heater

Desuperheater water heater with geothermal heat pump applications

14. Fireplaces

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Fireplaces are not recommended but if used consider fireplaces with airtight glass doors and outdoor combustion air or electric fireplace.

15. Roof / Attic Ventilation

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Attic ventilation is required for moisture removal during the winter months and heat removal during the summer months.Proper ventilation sizing requires 1/150th of the square footage of attic area, one-half in high roof and one-half in soffits.

16. Electrical & Plumbing

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Electrical, plumbing, and utility penetrations in exterior walls or through the ceiling should be sealed with airtight construction practices. Recessed lighting fixtures that extend into unconditioned areas include airtight enclosures. Electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls and ceiling light fixtures should be airtight.

Air Tight Testing & Results

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Conclusion -- Owner / Builder Conversation

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