Moisture brings durability and air quality problems with it, and myriad green products are designed to manage it and keep it out. Given the variety of products available, we look for those that meet key performance standards and that make sense in a whole building assembly—such as vapor-permeable weather-resistive barriers that not only prevent moisture from entering the building envelope but also allow drying when the envelope gets wet.
Before specifying efficient heating and cooling equipment, it’s important to do what we can to reduce heating and cooling loads. Insulation is one of the key products to consider here, but because there are so many insulation products on the market, we look for additional benefits. Examples include cellulose insulation with recycled content, mineral wool insulation with no flame retardants, and fiberglass insulation with no formaldehyde binders. Other products in this area are high-performance windows and glazings, products that contribute to building airtight envelopes, products that reduce thermal bridging, and window-retrofit products.
With products in this area under constant development, we are always refining our approach. For example, as we have learned about insulation products with hazardous flame retardants and blowing agents that have high global warming potential, we have removed those products from GreenSpec, pending manufacturing changes. We encourage building professionals to pressure manufacturers for those changes through specification language and purchasing decisions.
With energy-consuming equipment, such as water heaters and refrigerators, we have good data on energy consumption and can set clear standards accordingly. In some product categories—clothes washers, for example—Energy Star standards were adopted because those standards provide a high enough threshold to represent just the very top segment of the product market (less than 10%). In other product categories—e.g., refrigerators and dishwashers—we set a higher threshold than ENERGY STAR: for example, exceeding those standards by 10% or 20%. With lighting and lighting control equipment, certain generic products qualify, such as compact fluorescent lamps and occupancy/daylighting controls, while in other categories only a subset of products qualify. In some cases, products that meet the energy efficiency requirements are excluded, because of evidence of poor performance or durability. Microturbines are included here because of the potential for cogeneration (combined heat and power) that they offer.
Irisys infrared (IR) cameras are made in the United Kingdom and sold in the U.S. through Entherm. Suitable for building diagnostics and preventative maintenance of mechanical and electrical equipment, the company’s IR cameras use a 160x120 detector array and offer a variety of options depending on end-use. The IRI 4010 is designed for home building inspections and energy audits, whereas the IRI 4030 and IRI 4035 use the same basic components as the 4010 but include filters that enable the cameras to detect higher temperatures. The IRI 4040 uses a narrow angle lens to detect small objects at a distance. These cameras come with features that include laser guidance, field-replaceable lithium-ion batteries, and more.
Commissioning is the practice of third-party verification that a completed building meets the design intent and requirements. Originally involving only the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, commissioning now also includes other automated building systems such as lighting, security, and fire-safety. The concept of "total building commissioning" has emerged to include the functional aspects of all building components, including structure, shell, and finishes.
Products listed here may be used in the commissioning process and include data loggers that track temperature, humidity, run-time, and a number of other variables; and infrared (IR) cameras that can detect faulty mechanical and electrical systems, missing or inadequate insulation, and imbalances in HVAC systems.
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