Laliberte Online -- Building Better Homes
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Mark has been a teacher, lecturer and consultant to the green building industry for more than 25 years. He helps builders and manufacturers put building science to work, creating high-performance homes that are more durable, energy-efficient, cost-effective and more enjoyable to live in.
News from the Field

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sneak Preview-- New Economy Home

Some very exciting news: Mark has teamed up with Marianne Cusato reknowned creator of the Katrina Cottage along with housing affordability expert Fernando Pages Ruiz to include proven building science guidelines with Cusato's forthcoming plans for the New Economy Home. We will keep you posted as plans get finalized in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime here's an informative introduction on the Hanley Wood website Builderonline;
click here to read the article

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Building Science Builds Award Winning Business

Each year LBM Journal recognizes three companies of different sizes to acknowledge outstanding performance with their annual entrepreneur of the year awards. This year one of Mark’s clients, Parr Lumber of Oregon, has won that honor. Parr Lumber has spent considerable time in the past few years reorganizing and adapting systems to better meet its customers’ needs.

Beginning in 1996 individual store locations were integrated into a single cohesive organization to create supply side efficiencies and a focus on the fundamentals of good material supply. After realizing initial economies of scale, Parr Lumber began to develop strategic marketing services to support their builder customers' success. This unique approach for adding value led to deeper partnership with customers through an initiative called Plant-Based Housing.

By building walls, trusses, and envelope assemblies in a controlled factory environment Parr Lumber was able to increase quality assurance and minimize waste, passing those benefits on to customers. A natural outgrowth of this initiative was to address the technical challenges of ensuring best practices, once adopted, were continued and maintained in the field. Through a partnership with Building Knowledge and under the direction of Mark Laliberte, Parr Lumber launched “Parr High Performance System”.

Introduced in January 2008 the system consists of four key elements: sealing the home against air and moisture; retaining all HVAC duct work in the conditioned air space; using advance framing techniques; and testing the home’s improved efficiency after construction. Builders who use "Parr High Performance System" are able to quickly align themselves with good building science, a better economic value proposition, and homeowner’s demand for green building.

Parr continues to extend their commitment to best practices by identifying environmentally friendly products in a program called “Get Real" that provides detailed information via a website as well as in stores . Under Mark's guidance, Parr Lumber has focused on simplifying the green building concept for builders to make it easy to understand, reliable to build, and a strategic advantage for builders and homeowners alike.

Congratulations to Parr Lumber for applying innovative thinking to create new opportunity in a sluggish market. To read the complete article in LBM Journal click here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

HVAC: Why Tight is Right

The goal of heating, cooling and ventilating systems is to provide an environment that supports our narrow band of comfort expectations: a conditioned air space with temperatures somewhere between 70 + 71 degrees F and a relative humidity of about 40%.

For an HVAC system to meet these exacting requirements, it is imperative that the building enclosure be tight. Yet if our goal is to improve indoor air quality, reducing the air change rate by building a tight home may seem counter intuitive.

The solution is a properly installed whole house ventilation system to continuously introduce the correct amount of fresh air, and dilute indoor pollutants such as the volatile organic compounds from carpet, stains and furnishings. We also need an effective filtration system to eliminate dust, pollen and other particulates.

Don’t underestimate the importance of correctly sizing the HVAC system. Correct sizing and installation ensures indoor comfort while at the same time saving energy and minimizing the cost of the system itself.

Use Manual J calculations with accurate data obtained by testing the tightness of the house, and by using high quality windows and insulation systems, and employing proper framing techniques.

Correct HVAC installation also requires that the distribution system be carefully sized and that all ducts in conditioned spaces are sealed tightly enough to prevent gasses from unwanted locations like garages and crawl spaces from entering the space.

Last, but not least, there must be simple controls that allow people to interact with the HVAC system to achieve the indoor environment they want.

A properly sized HVAC system, correctly installed, in a weather tight structure, will result in a comfortable, durable, healthy and energy efficient home. A home your customers will love to talk about!