Building science is the integration of various scientific disciplines focused on applying that knowledge to buildings. Building science applies to both building materials and how the building envelope is constructed. It informs builders of how to make buildings more energy efficient and improve functionality and safety for the inhabitants. Building science encompasses areas such as energy efficiency, indoor air safety, earthquake and seismic stability, fire resistance and more.The pragmatic objective of building science is to maximize any building’s performance across a variety of parameters.
Building scientists like to point out that merely meeting the city’s code and ordinances in a home is the lowest common denominator. A new home that simply meets code means the home is the worst possible construction legally allowed. A home that just meets code is not a high performance home.
What is Green Building?
Green Building is a popular term but what exactly does it mean? We believe using building science’s best practices to construct the most efficient and healthiest buildings is the foundation of green building. Applying building science to new construction and retrofits is green building because we are making buildings as efficient and healthy as possible while at the same time reducing their carbon footprint. This is the core essence of building green.
Sustainable Building Science
Building science is the foundation of sustainable building. By applying the knowledge gained from research and years of experience, building scientists are able to construct extremely efficient buildings that are sustainable by design. Sustainable buildings maintain high efficiency and with the case of new construction can be energy neutral or even net positive with solar. It is important to note that efficiency comes first.
To illustrate how much building science can improve homes, here is a quote from the US Dept of Energy’s report on residential and commercial energy efficiency:
“Using today’s best practices, builders have demonstrated that it is possible to design and construct new houses that are 30 to 40 percent lower in energy intensity than a typical code house, at little or no additional cost.”
The improvements for retrofitting an older home can be much greater. Recently Advanced Home Energy won Energy Upgrade California’s Energy Efficiency Award for achieving 71% energy savings in a single residence.