How to determine the amount of continuous insulation required by codes, while still retarding water vapor according to climate zone locations
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"While ASHRAE 90.1 has been pushing continuous insulation (CI) for the past decade, the building codes are catching on. And now that the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has mandated all states to adopt a commercial building energy code that meets or exceeds ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010, CI specifications are really being cast into the spotlight."
In the cold climate of the upper Midwest, air-source VRF systems have difficulty meeting heating loads when the outdoor temperatures drop below -5ºF. Because of this difficulty during common cold spells, they are either oversized (adding to system cost) or supplemental heat is added (adding to operating cost). Cold temperatures can also cause frost issues around outdoor units, as well as compressor failure. A VRF system served by a water loop—in place of air—does not have these issues, making the technology more practical and effective in cold climates such as the upper Midwest. A water-source VRF system can be connected to a boiler and cooling tower or, for even higher performance, a ground heat exchanger.
"When designers of the first net zero energy school in the U.S. considered how they would approach the lighting design differently using today’s LED technology, the results extended far beyond just switching out the lightbulbs. The hypothetical redesign of Richardsville (Ky.) Elementary classrooms involves rethinking the daylighting design based on the evolution of LED lighting and the cheaper cost of photovoltaics (PV)."