Discover your path to energy efficiency

Building Science Theory

It comes down to a catch-phrase known to all building scientists: the Building/House as a System. The Department of Energy’s Building America program has been busy teaching this to builders in recent years. In short, the building components interact with one another, with the external environment, and with you, the occupants. If one part changes, all the other parts are effected.
What is a Good “Building as a System”?
As stated above, the building's parts interact. We look to see if the key elements are working together. The home/building needs an effective thermal envelope (continuous insulation) that is also a good pressure envelope (continuously airtight) in order for the mechanical systems (RTU, boiler, furnace, A/C, water heater, ventilation, etc.) to do their jobs (maintaining comfort).

We look for appropriate amounts of insulation in the attic, exterior walls, and foundation. If the home/building has adequate insulation but there are many open penetrations (air leaks), then the thermal envelope is not effective. The same is true if penetrations are sealed but insulation is lacking. We also examine windows and window shading – which can help or hurt winter warmth and/or summer coolth.

We check the mechanical systems for size, efficiency, and delivery effectiveness. Restating what was said above, the heating and cooling systems should be capable of efficiently maintaining comfort – NOT establishing comfort! Establishing comfort is the job of the house envelope.
What About Occupants?
You, the occupants, are the most important (and variable) elements of the home/building. We’re attentive to two issues; first, that the envelope and mechanical systems act in ways that guard your health; and second, how your work/lifestyle inside the building interacts with the building's systems.

Looking first at safety, consider this: with a tight thermal envelope, less energy is used, but the home or building’s natural air exchange is decreased. Thus, less fresh air enters the home/building to dilute pollutants – ranging from carbon monoxide, to basic cleaning products, to VOC’s outgassing from cabinets, carpets, etc. To reduce the threat from these pollutants, we check whether the home/building is exchanging enough air with the outside. If not, ventilation needs to be increase or added to the home/building. The addition of a carbon monoxide detector on every level where occupants sleep is HIGHLY encouraged as well.

Finally, your activity and lifestyle choices have a huge impact on energy use in your home/building. We understand and respect that these are YOUR choices – and we will let you know how small changes can be made in daily habits to make a large difference in energy consumption. Benchmarking at least one year’s worth of your utility bills is exceptionally helpful in gaining insight to your energy-use. This allows us to begin to see patterns that are clues prior to us being on-site for inspection and testing services.
Our Goal on Your Behalf
Lightly Treading's energy efficiency experts, want to help you optimize and improve your home/building so that it performs to the specifications you desire and reduces its environmental impact. It should waste little while providing you physical, mental, and financial comfort.