Building Science: Volume 1, Issue 2

SEON’s Sustainable Energy Outreach Network Newsletter
In this issue
• Letter from the Executive Director
• Watch our members in action!
• Building Science Guild Meeting
• Other Meetings
• SEON Training
• Interesting Links
• Thank you, Members
Message From SEON’s Executive Director

As I travel Vermont promoting our foundation course Basics of High Performance Building, I’m frequently asked what is the financial benefit to taking this course as an individual or for the company. What is the payback?

I’ve asked this question to SEON’s members who have been instrumental in sending their employees to our courses and thought it would be informative for many to read their responses.

The owners feel that finding a direct financial payback was not a reasonable question. For these owners, they wanted to point to the impact the courses have had on the culture of the organization, and for them the benefit is considerable. In taking the courses, they’ve found employees now recognize what is important to the owner when it comes to high-performance considerations and have recognized they take greater ownership of the work with ongoing learning. They recognize that the small details/errors have major impacts. Their carpenters are capable of making decisions on their own with building science in mind and will use lunch breaks to recap the issues of the day and engage in advanced problem-solving.

At times, the engaged carpenters have even slowed the pace of work down to ensure the crew’s approach has taken building science issues into consideration. The owners have also said their employees are now capable of having better qualitative discussions with architects and homeowners – all enhancing the reputation and legitimacy of the business. For these owners, it’s the knowledge and skill that comes from advanced learning that ensures quality and team ownership of the project that sets their reputation for consistency, professionalism, and long-term gain. As Tedd Benson of Bensonwoods reveals with his apprentices, there are no shortcuts to mastery and lots of benefits with the journey. (Read more here:

For the individual carpenter, they are part of an ethic within the building industry that not only aspires to the highest of standards, but to an innate desire to learn and for builders to continue to develop their skills. Carpenters want to work, and create value and meaning in the work they do. As Tedd said, “The craft of building right now involves a lot of science. Making good buildings now more than ever requires builders to be capable, determined learners, not just good with their hands. In opposition to compound ignorance, the main thing every builder needs to know is that there’s more to know, and the present accepted standard isn’t nearly good enough.”

For a list of SEON’s spring course schedule please see below or go to:
Guy Payne
Executive Directo
Watch Our Members in Action
Now THIS is how you use social media!
• 475 High Performance Building Supply comparing the amount of moisture from different housewraps.
• DIY Tips from Efficiency Vermont.
• Watch HempStone, LLC mixing hempcrete with humor (a.k.a., the original sound!).
Building Science Guild Meeting
The next BSG meeting will meet a week later than our normal meeting date of the 4th Wednesday of the month. Our meeting will be over zoom from 4:00 – 6:00 on March 1st to address a question posed by Richard Faesy of Energy Futures concerning RBES and Continuous Insulation. The context for the question and the question itself is lengthy and so bear with this explanation. This should lead to a great qualitative discussion.
As the Dept. of Public Service (PSD) moves the 2023 RBES to hearings with LCAR (Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules), we want to make sure that we have the building science right on the wall requirement. While we had proposed U-0.033 for walls in the 2023 RBES that was previously shared, we are considering raising it to U-0.036 (making it less stringent). You could build a U-0.036 wall through a multitude of different configurations, but the goal is to include continuous insulation to achieve this requirement. Given the prevalence of ZIP sheathing products in the market, this change in U-factors would mean that a 2×6 framed wall with ZIP R-9 would comply, whereas the original U-0.033 would have required a ZIP R-12, if the builder chooses to build a conventional wall with ZIP-R insulated sheathing.
The question we have is whether anyone has seen any building durability or moisture issues with a 2×6 cavity wall sheathed with R-9 insulation in Vermont, provided that the wall is designed to dry to the inside (i.e., no vapor impermeable membrane or coating inside). If we reduce the wall thermal requirements, and we make a concerted effort to train designers and builders and provide quality building science-based materials, will we see wall durability issues in the field? Do you have concerns about building failures with 2×6 with R-9 sheathing? Are there other issues we are overlooking? We know that 50% cavity-50% continuous is ideal, but have we seen issues when this ratio moves to 60%-40% or 70%-30%? Models may say this is a problem, but have we really seen issues in VT? Your field experience and evidence would be most welcome.
Other Meetings
HELM’s Fundamentals of Preconstruction and Project Management – Online
Date: March 14–April 25Info: This interactive virtual training is targeted at emerging project managers and estimators. Over the course of seven sessions, participants will learn the fundamentals of good pre-construction and project management practice. The sessions will be virtual and live, combining presentation with hands-on exercises and group discussion. Participants will be provided with assignments between sessions, tools, and templates.

NESEAS Building Energy – Boston
Date: March 28-29
Info: Scalable Solutions – A sustainable future is possible for the planet and the people who live here, but only with massive, collective, urgent action. With that challenge before us, our theme for this year’s BuildingEnergy Boston conference is: Scalable Solutions. As the need for more buildings collides with the growing climate crisis, now is the time for practical, scalable building design and construction solutions that meet the needs of both the planet and the people who live here. To meet this challenge, we need to reach beyond the relatively small network of early adopters and climate activists, improving how we communicate our ideas, developing solutions that work on a large scale, and building a workforce of informed and willing practitioners.

Better Building by Design – South Burlington
Dates: April 5 and 6
Info: Once again Efficiency Vermont is offering a group discount for individuals from the same organization and SEON is listed as an organization and our members qualify for the discount. Buy four registrations, and the fifth one is free (the lowest price registrant will be the free one). This drops the Early Price for the full conference from $350 to $280. For SEON member discount, contact Guy Payne before January 31, guy@buildingscience.orgLeadership Development for Crew Leaders – Brattleboro, VT
Dates: April 13 & 20

Info: Mentoring Skills to Develop & Retain Your Workforce Building
Visit all of HELM’s Customized Training here:
SEON Training
• Basics of High Performance Building – March 8 & 15Two Training LocationsDate: March 8 & 15Time: 3:45pm – 7:45pmLocations:
Center for Technology, Essex (Instructor: Chris West)
2 Educational Drive, Essex Jct, VT 05452
ORGreen Mountain Technology and Career Center (Instructor: Jim Bradley)
738 VT-15, Hyde Park, VT 05655
Sign up for either location ► here.
• Basics of High Performance Building – March 13 & 20Date: March 13 & 20Time: 3:45pm – 7:45pmLocation:
Patricia Hannaford Career Center (Instructor: Nate Gusakov)
51 Charles Street, Middlebury, VT 05753
Sign up ► here.
• Basics of High Performance Building – March 14 & 21Date: March 14 & 21Time: 3:45pm – 7:45pmLocation:
Windham Regional Career Center (Instructor: Junio Anthes-Moody)
80 Atwood Drive, Brattleboro, VT 05301
Sign up ► here.
• Basics of High Performance Building – March 23 & 30Date: March 23 & 30Time: 3:45pm – 7:45pmLocation:
Hartford Area Career and Technology Center (Instructor: Michael Goetinck)
1 Gifford Road, White River Junction, VT 05001
Sign up ► here.
• Basics of High Performance Building – April 12 & 26Date: April 12 & 26Time: 3:45pm – 7:45pmLocation:
Southwest Vermont Career Development Center (Instructor: Junio Anthes-Moody)
321 Park Street, Bennington, VT 05201
Sign up ► here.
• Leadership Development for Crew Leaders: Mentoring Skills to Develop & Retain Your Workforce Building – April 13 & 20Date: April 13 & 20Time: 3:45pm – 7:45pmLocation:
Windham Regional Career Center (Instructor: Guy Payne)
80 Atwood Drive, Brattleboro, VT 05301
Sign up ► here.
• Basics of High Performance Building – April 25 & 27Date: April 25 & 27Time: 3:45pm – 7:45pmLocation:
River Valley Technical Center (Instructor: Peter Yost)
307 South Street, Springfield, VT 05156
Sign up ► here.
Ongoing training/webinars compiled by Efficiency Vermont
Interesting Links
Scotland goes Passive House from 2024
20 mysterious old home features that aren’t useful anymore
What Could Chill Heat Pumps?
• Let’s make our homes able to weather blackouts
• “The paint is made for us by a company in Vermont, Fine Paints of Europe. We use their water-based eco-paint.”
Thank you, Members!
All Seasons Construction, Springfield, VT
• Duane Case, Bellows Falls, VT
Efficiency Vermont, Winooski
Farnum Insulators, Dummerston, VT
GPI Construction, Inc Brattleboro, VT
HELM Construction Solutions LLC, Brattleboro, VT
Integrated Solar Applications Corp. Brattleboro, VT
JA Saccoccio Workshop PLLC, Brattleboro, VT
Mindel & Morse Builders, Brattleboro, VT
Owl’s Head Builders, Guilford, VT
Sierra Pacific Windows, Red Bluff, CA
Silver Maple Construction/Zone 6 Energy, New Haven, VT
The Wadsworth Company LLC, Jamaica, VT
Wright Builders, Inc, Northampton, MA