2007 - [Sustainable Concepts] Cold Climate Construction &
Water Saving Tips
2007, vol. 54
Welcome to the September 2007 newsletter from Design
Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's
Quote of the Month: "Water is the driving force of
-Leonardo Da Vinci
Lisa A. Swan
Water Saving Tips
Many areas of the US are experiencing droughts
and record low rain falls this year. Here are a
8 easy tips that can help you save water around
- Install water saving shower heads and flow restrictors.
(Saves 500-800 gallons/month)
- Run only full loads in the washing machine &
dishwater. (Saves 300-800 gallons/month)
- Capture tap water. While waiting for hot water,
catch the cold water and water your house plants
and yard. (Saves 200-300 gallons/month)
- Turn the water off while you are washing your
face, shaving or brushing your teeth. (Saves 3
- Water your lawn and garden only when you need
to and water during the cool hours of 6:00pm and
8:00am. (Saves 750-1500 gallons/month)
- Break up your watering schedule into three 9-minute
sessions thoughout the day instead of one 30-min
cycle. Adjust sprinklers for run-off, overspray
and waste. (Saves 500 gallons/month)
- Fix leaky faucets, plumbing joints, hose bibs,
and sprinkler heads. (Saves 20 gallons per leak
- Don't water sidewalks, driveways, or gutter.
Use a broom to clean off these areas. (Saves 600
Article © Lisa A. Swan. Photo © www.ci.zebulon.nc.us
for Cold Climates
Last month we spoke about hot-humid climates.
This month we will focus on the challenges of building
in a cold climate. It is important to control for
water, air and heat. Many areas need to be considered
in order to create a design that works for cold
1. Rain water infiltration is the largest source
of material deterioration in buildings. The exterior's
primary plane of water shedding (cladding, shingles,
metal roofing, etc) is not necessarily completely
watertight. A secondary drainage plane (usually
a housewrap or taped insulating sheathing) is installed
behind the main exterior water shedding surface.
This drainage plane in combination with flashing
details allow any water that may penetrate through
the exterior water shedding plane to drain back
out to the exterior.
2. Air leakage is the second most common mechanism
for depositing moisture in wall assemblies. In order
to control air leakage, a continuous plane of air
seal must be created. This air seal must be continuous
not only for each building assembly, but at the
connection between adjoining building assemblies.
3. The overhangs from the roof are designed to extend
a minimum of 12 inches from the exterior wall. This
amount of overhang will provide some protection
for the wall elements such as windows and doors
that are traditionally common sources of water leakage.
4. Use vented cathedral ceilings and attics that
are air-tight with the use of gypsum board and sealants.
5. Increase insulation with minimum R-21 in the
walls with wood studs at 24" o.c. plus R-5 sheathing
for the exterior. For the roof, use R-38 in the
attic and R-35 in the cathedral ceiling.
6. HVAC must be properly sized and high efficient.
Look for the highest SEER rating.
7. Install a bead of non-expanding urethane foam
between the window frame and the rough opening on
all four sides of the window. 8. Ducts should be
placed in conditioned spaces. Grilles should be
placed high on the wall to avoid being blocked by
furniture in bedrooms and low on the walls in hallways.
This will help create a even distribution.
9. Conditioned basement or crawlspaces should be
used to keep the living space more comfortable.
Read on find out about a design example that works
for a cold climate.
Article © Lisa A. Swan. Picture © buildingscience.com
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