Building science / Guides

The difference between air barriers and vapour barriers
Air and vapour barriers

The Difference between air barriers and vapor barriers

...Building practices should always be determined by the climate in which you are building. How water vapor travels: There are two main ways moisture will pass through your walls that you should be concerned about — air leakage and vapour diffusion. These are two completely different things, with two completely separa...

How radiant floors work
Delivery: radiant, forced-air and decentralized

How to design for thermal comfort in a home

...building design prioritized thermal comfort for occupants, it is likely we would see a lot more radiant heating, and certainly better building envelopes. If you are custom building a new home, your best chance for a comfortable and efficient final product would come by employing a designer who leans towards high-perf...

Top Tips for Getting a House Ready for Winter
Wall assemblies - renovation

Winter preparation for your home - are you ready for the cold?

...Building advice , see our Green Home Building guide pages to learn more about easy energy efficient home improvements , how to properly insulate an attic , When to replace old windows and when to repair them , How to choose the best windows and everything else you need to know about planning a renovation or new buildin...

Problem areas of air leakage in a home and blower door test being cond
Air and vapour barriers

Airtight Construction of Homes is Essential: "Your house sucks." "Oh yeah? your house blows!"

...building, forcing air in on some sides and forcing it out on others. Aside from being blocked by other buildings or planting a stand of evergreen trees, the only thing you can do to stop wind pressure is to work overtime when you are sealing up your house to prevent air leaks in the first place. The stack (or chimney...

Choosing between OSB or Plywood for house sheathing for Roofs, Walls & Floors.
Wood and organic materials

Which is better, OSB or Plywood for Roofs, Walls & Floors?

...building industry experts that we have read and spoken with, is that OSB has a perm rating of 2 and plywood has a perm rating of 10 . Those are the perm ratings you will find on many building information websites , though it conflicts with what is found in section of the Canadian National Building Code, whic...

Prefab frost-protected shallow foundation insulated form kit
Slab on Grade

Raft slabs - How to build Insulated Frost Protected shallow foundations (FPSF) on problem soils

...building surface. Building sites with poor soil conditions (disturbed soil, expansive soils, low-bearing capacity, high water tables, etc.) may require significant investment in drainage, soil replacement and compaction before an engineer will approve a project. The photos below are images of drainage measures that...

Air barriers are essential to a properly functioning wall system
Air and vapour barriers

What is an air barrier?

...building enclosures that are less forgiving than the air barrier. Where to install an air barrier: A building envelope should only ever have one vapour barrier, and it goes on the warm side of the insulation. Air barriers on the other hand, can be anywhere in the wall assembly and as plentiful as you like. It is hi...

Balanced insulation levels in a green home
Efficient home design

Insulation in Green Home Building, a balanced approach to putting it where it does the most good

...building codes might save you money not only in the future, but immediately . The purchase and installation of greater levels of insulation will increase building costs and your mortgage payment every month, but that can often be offset entirely when you are rewarded with lower utility bills. Meaning, your monthly expe...

Concrete floors and timber frame as thermal mass
Efficient home design

The pros and cons of thermal mass in buildings

...building? As mentioned at the beginning, there is really no right or wrong answer to this question. Sometimes it helps, other times it doesn't. If you've received council that you 'should' or 'shouldn't' include significant thermal mass in your home, that isn't entirely accurate unless your building envelope and life...

Thermal image showing where home heat loss is occurring.
Insulation and soundproofing

How insulation works

...building codes. That covers the insulation material, but there is more at play to determine the actual or 'true' R value of a complete wall system. Insulation materials (like batts of fiberglass or panels of foam) have their own specific R value, but if they are spaced between wooden studs, the lower R value of the s...

Correctly installed Triple pane south facing windows on Ecohome's Demo House
Windows and doors

Installing doors & windows for the best performance in high efficiency homes, LEED & Passive House

...buildings like LEED certified, Passive House, ZNE , Passive Solar, Zero Energy Homes or even Positive Energy Homes all rely on the building envelope having a high level of insulation, and a managed level of Air Transfer Rate, preferably via an HRV or ERV unit to control the energy losses from essential ventilation . Yo...