Construction season started with a bang here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Confluence Architecture currently has 5 homes we designed under construction. A record for us. We are working with a range of clients from owner builders to spec builders. Here are highlights from recent site visits:
Excavation at Crystal River Valley home
Insulation complete and siding in process at Elk Springs home
Working on Finishes at Shaw Spec Storybook House. Check out that helix stair.
Framing underway at the Hilleke Home
If you haven’t been through a blower door test yet, chances are you will soon. As Pitkin County, Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale gear up to adopt the latest round of building and energy efficiency codes. The 2015 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) have houses going for a maximum of 3 ACH50 (Air Changes per Hour at -50 Pascal) and commercial buildings going for a maximum of .40 CFM/square foot of envelope area at 75 Pascal. Most builders I work with could get to 7 ACH50 without doing anything extra. Getting to 3 ACH50 will take some extra care. If you are unfamiliar with the techniques of air sealing, then read up or get an expert on the team. A great place to start reading is the ENERGY STAR Thermal Bypass Checklist . Awesome document- do this stuff and you will pass the blower door test the first time.
Builders typically like to perform the blower door test ASAP so they will have time to deal with any problems arising from a failed test. So I’m often asked, “what do I need to have done before we test?” Completely done, done, done is ideal; but in reality below is my checklist of this that should be done before testing so test results are not significantly degraded:
- doors and windows installed
- door and window hardware installed
- hatches to unconditioned attics and crawlspaces installed and gasketed
- dampers in place
- thresholds installed
- weatherstripping installed
- fireplace doors installed
- plumbing traps filled
- conduits leading outside sealed
- air handlers and ductwork complete
- light fixtures installed
- plate covers installed
- any other gap, crack or hole between inside and outside that you can find
Setting up the Building
When we test a building for air infiltration the building must be setup in a prescribed fashion. The IECC has it’s section (2009 IECC R402.4.2.1 or 2009 IRC N1220.127.116.11) that describes how to setup a house. RESNET has their official protocol as well, the document ANSI/RESNET/ICC 380-2016 .
- Exterior windows and doors, fireplace and stove doors shall be closed, but not sealed;
- Dampers shall be closed, but not sealed; including exhaust, intake, makeup air, back draft, and flue dampers;
- Interior doors shall be open;
- Exterior openings for continuous ventilation systems and heat recovery ventilators shall be closed and sealed;
- Heating and cooling system(s) shall be turned off;
- HVAC ducts shall not be sealed; and
- Supply and return registers shall not be sealed.
Running the test
I usually takes me 20-30 minutes to set up the blower door equipment and check that the house is prepared. I need an exterior door that is not too small or too big to set up in, power nearby and a space to work in. If the house is more than 5000 square feet or so, I will set up double fan equipment. Then I will need to shut down the air handler and exhaust fans. At this point, anyone opening a door would void the test. But typically I only need the doors closed for five minutes to get an accurate reading. If it hasn’t been done yet, I will need the drawings to calculate the volume of air inside the house. Then do the math; flow (the results of the test) X 60 divided by the volume of the house = the number of air changes per hour. In the end, I create a certificate, that need to go to the building official.
If you want/need someone else’s eyes on the job, then give us a call. Confluence Architecture has a lot of experience with construction detailing, building testing, improving test results and also does HERS ratings, RESchecks, COMchecks, blower door tests, duct blast tests, IR camera inspections, etc.
Confluence Architecture & Sustainability has been electrically net-zero for a while. Now our surplus solar electric is being used to charge our new Electric Vehicle.
A Gunmetal Grey Nissan Leaf with a level 2 charger to go with it.
Architectural site visits, construction inspections and blower door testing from Confluence will now be carbon neutral from New Castle, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Willits, Basalt to Aspen!
Confluence Architecture of Carbondale Colorado awarded Best of Houzz 2016 for customer service. The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 35 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2015. A “Best Of Houzz 2016” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.
USGBC Colorado honored the Marble Distilling Company design for its exceptional implementation of sustainable technologies with a 2015 Commercial Real Estate Award. The distillery’s integrated systems approach utilizes the heat from the distilling process to heat the distillery, tasting room and Inn as well as recaptures that heat and water for utilization in the distilling process and for domestic use. With these measures, the building is 85 percent more efficient than local code requires. Confluence Architecture is honored to be part of a great team that made this possible. Congratulations to Marble Distilling Company, Energy and Sustainable Design and the whole team! Read more here.
Confluence Architecture is proud to announce that we have broken ground on the addition to the mountainside cabin. Congratulations to Hilleke Custom Homes.
Confluence Architecture acted as LEED consultant and HERS provider on a new home located in Missouri Heights above El Jebel Colorado, netting a LEED gold and a HERS rating of 18. We worked with a great team including building architect CCY, contractor Koru Ltd, mechanical engineer REG, and Jill Soffer Design.
Carbondale’s newest hotspot, the Marble Distilling Company, is now open for business. Confluence Architecture was there to participate in the First Friday festivities last week. The tasting room was transformed into a club like atmosphere for the grand opening as craft spirits were enjoyed by many of Carbondale’s population adding to the vibrancy of the space and helping to define what makes Carbondale such an attractive place to live and work.
Confluence Architecture is pleased to announce that construction has begun on a project located in Elk Springs subdivision in Glenwood Springs. Congratulations to Chris Shaw Construction and the Basler family for reaching this major milestone. Check back soon for more updates on this fine example of sustainable design in the Roaring Fork valley.