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Insulation Made from Potting Soil

A humble soil additive used by millions of gardeners is set to slash the cost of the most effective form of insulation for buildings. New research demonstrates that vacuum insulation panels can be made with a core of perlite – the volcanic ore “popcorn” used in horticulture to improve drainage and water retention. The material dramatically reduces the cost of the panels that are normally made by surrounding a core of fumed silica with metallized PET envelope. Initial cost savings are estimated to be at least 30%. According to Brunel University London academic Dr Harjit Singh: “Perlite also has a…

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How a Historic Church Slashed Energy Expenses

Manhattan’s iconic Riverside Church has a long, storied history of good works, inviting such luminaries as Nelson Mandela and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King to speak to its interdenominational congregation. Church leaders strive to make life better for worshippers and their wider community – and a recent energy efficiency retrofit will help them achieve that mission. The church welcomed a suite of new digital controls for its HVAC system and insulation on boilers and pipes to cut energy costs while improving comfort. These upgrades will save 131,000 therms and 204,000 kWh per year, and thanks to incentives, the church…

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Air Leakage Testing: A Hot Button or Hot Air?

Blowing air into your building can prevent you from blowing your stack about its envelope performance. Air leakage testing quantitatively measures air seeping through your enclosure. The process involves pressurizing a space with blower door fans to create a detectable differential across the envelope. But it’s not always an appropriate method for problem detection. Pressure testing is necessary when problems have become particularly invasive or if quantitative analysis is desired to prove compliance, verify performance, or identify opportunities for upgrades. Become an educated consumer of this service by building a rudimentary understanding of building science and enclosure performance. They say…

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