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Building Progress 3: August 2011

August 5, 2011- Let's go inside...

Energy-efficient Mitsubishi Mr. Slim concealed duct mini-split heat pump (SEZ-KD09NA) installed on 1st floor.

Duct supplies heat to living room on 2nd floor.

Plumbing going in...

Starting to install Zehnder ComfoFresh air distribution system, which delivers fresh filtered air from the HRV (heat recovery ventilator not yet connected) to the rooms inside the house.  The HRV will be Zehnder ComfoAir 350.
These flexible white ComfoTubes (below) will be connected to the air distribution boxes (above) and then distributed to the rooms.

Sample of BioPCM sheet, a soy-based phase change material, that will be installed between insulation and drywall.  BioPCM is an easy way to increase thermal mass and improve thermal comfort by minimizing indoor temperature fluctuations.  When the house gets hot (above 76 degrees F), BioPCM stores heat by changing from solid to liquid.  As the house cools down (below 76 degrees F), BioPCM changes from liquid to solid and releases heat.  The thermal mass of one sheet of BioPCM (about half inch thick) is like adding 12 inches of concrete!  BioPCM can be installed in walls, floors, ceilings, and attics of new builds as well as retrofits.  The TrekHaus research team from PSU will be installing the BioPCM soon.

August 12, 2011- Film shoot today!

Faith Morgan, Executive Director of Community Solutions and filmmaker (The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil), was at TrekHaus today filming for a new documentary on Passivhaus and deep energy retrofits.

Rob and Bart getting the Zehnder ComfoAir 350 ready to show.

Don't drop that box Bart!  That's the heat-exchange core for the HRV.

Ella and Bart showing off the BioPCM, a soy-based phase change material described in the August 5, 2011 post.

Bart's so good in front of the camera, isn't he?

Thank you Faith Morgan for a fun day!

August 18, 2011- Closer look at the Zehnder ComfoFresh air distribution system

The Zehnder ComfoAir 350 HRV will be installed on the 2nd floor in the front.  Within the soffit, the metal tube closest to the central wall brings in fresh filtered air from the HRV.  The other metal tube carries out-going stale air.  The flexible white ComfoTube in the lower part of the soffit takes fresh air to the 2nd floor living room (east unit).

ComfoTube supplying air to 2nd floor living room (west unit)

The air distribution box (below) that is further back and closer to the center wall takes fresh filtered air and distributes it the rest of the house.  The other air distribution box takes the out-going stale air from the house and sends it to the outflow side of the HRV.
What a tangle!

Two ComfoTubes (above) going to 2nd floor bedroom, and ComfoTubes (below) going to and from 2nd floor to 1st floor.

Now let's look at the cool white Energy Star roof going in.
Before picture (looking north)...

We are using a white high performance Fibertite roofing membrane, which has one of the highest cool roof ratings in the industry.  T
he solar PV panels should perform better on a cool white roof.  HIgh solar reflectivity (83 SR) and infrared emittance (85 IE) keep the roof cool, reducing cooling costs in the summer.  By reflecting sunlight directly back into space (unlike a dark roof which reflects less and radiates heat which gets trapped in the atmosphere by the greenhouse effect), the cool roof also helps offset carbon emissions.  Here's what Energy Secretary Steven Chu has to say about the benefits of white roofs.

YouTube Video

Cool white roofs work best in hot sunny climates and may not be a good choice for colder climates.  To determine whether your home or building might benefit from a cool roof, you can estimate potential cost and energy savings by using the DOE Cool Roof Calculator or this Roof Savings Calculator developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In progress installation photo (below) shows white surface membrane being applied.  The underside of the membrane is a pale blue-green (see roll on right side of photo).

Thanks go to David Swyter (Total Home Inc.) for a fine job on the roof installation!

Here are the layers in the roof assembly...

August 25, 2011- Arrival of 2nd floor decks!

The decks are mounted totally outside and separate from the building envelope.  This helps maintain an airtight building shell without unnecessary openings or thermal bridging.
On the midline side (above), the deck is mounted to the bump-out, which is outside the building envelope.
On the other side (below), the deck is mounted to an external post.

The TrekHaus research team has also been on-site this week installing sensors and wiring.
Steve Gross (above) and Santiago Rodriguez (below) at work.