End Game Refrigerants by Positive Energy

Refrigerants are all around us and we barely ever notice. They are a hidden force in creating the comforts we have grown to think of as normal and yet many of us know little about them. Rethinking refrigerants is considered by many experts to be the #1 way to to combat and draw down climate change given how much carbon they can add to the atmosphere when not created and handled correctly. This episode features John Miles of Sanden Water Heaters in a ranging discussion of the effects and behaviors of refrigerants that might just blow your mind a little.


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John Miles

John is the general Manager of Sanden Eco Products and is responsible for bringing Sanden's range of CO2 powered Heat Pump Water Heaters into the North and South American marketplace and creating a revolution in the HPWH industry.
He works to establish a sales network of Independent Sales Reps and quality wholesale distribution plus adding people to Sanden’s in house support network and is in charge of overseeing Sanden’s marketing campaign, which is beginning with adverts in the HVAC/Plumbing trade press, as well as podcasts like this one.


Big thanks to Sanden for supporting the show and for talking with us at AHR and to The Humid Climate Conference for their continued and generous support of our show. 

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You Don't Know What You Don't Know, You Know? by Positive Energy

The state of our current housing industry’s understanding and treatment of HVAC systems is in quiet crisis. Systems are routinely installed incorrectly to the detriment of the environment both on a macro scale and on the micro scale of the air quality inside people’s homes. In this episode, Kristof interviews Sean and Ian Harris, the owners of IAQ Texas. You'll hear discussion on why quality duct installation is crucial for good indoor air quality outcomes. 

Also, we talk about Aerobarrier. It’s a little sneak peak for our full episode with the CEO of AeroBarrier, Amit Gupta, to be released soon!


Sean & Ian Harris

Sean & Ian with one of their glorious trailers.

Sean & Ian with one of their glorious trailers.

Sean Harris has been developing his interest in residential home construction since participating in a remodel project, certified by Austin Energy’s Green Building Program in 2005. With a degree in business administration, Sean combines his interest in green building and knowledge of business systems. Sean oversees the operations of Positive Energy and including product development, quality control, staffing, and marketing/sales. He is also a certified RESNET energy rater and conducts home performance inspections, energy code tests, ECADS, and HERS ratings. His father and business partner, Ian Harris, has worked in many aspects of the residential construction industry for decades and was a Positive Energy consultant in the early days of the company. Together, they run IAQ Texas, offering observation, cleaning, and sealing services across the state of Texas.

Rooted in building science, IAQ Texas was started by testing homes to better understand how they work and how indoor air quality can improve your health and comfort. IAQ Texas has experience in hundreds of new and older homes throughout Central Texas and beyond. They aim to help builders who frequently struggle to seal building envelopes and duct systems, to prevent leaving homeowners, especially in older homes, stuck with poorly sealed houses, discomfort, and IAQ issues. Since the beginning their goal has been to resolve poor indoor air quality issues for both builders and homeowners. The team believes that the greatest possible quality of life indoors can happen by simply improving and protecting the air you breathe.


Gory Duct Photos


Don’t Miss Out!

Texas Goes Passive by Positive Energy

Is Dallas, Texas ready for the state’s first internationally certified Passive House? Kyle and Connor Fagin think so and they’re betting on it. Join Kristof as the Fagin Partners tell us their unique story of operating in the developer driven construction world to sacrificing profit for the principled push forward in industry transformation.


Kyle Fagin

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The first home Kyle ever built was a tree house for his three awesome kids. Sometime after that he began a major remodel on a mid-century home for his family and was heavily involved in all aspects of the project. A year or so later he was part of a team that designed and built the family lake house in East Texas. He discovered building really suited him and it seemed that he had a knack for it as well. He built commercially for a while, but found residential much more enjoyable. His true passion is learning how to build the most efficient and sustainable homes that can be built and now does this alongside his son and partner Connor. When he's not working, Kyle enjoys biking, sailing, being outdoors and spending time with his wife, Christy, and his three kids.

Connor Fagin

Connor is a graduate from Baylor University. He has always been deeply involved in community adventures; he helped to develop the Dallas High School Meals on Wheels advisory board, which is still active today. He is a self-proclaimed techie and stays on the leading edge of any technology that can enhance his own life as well as the customers. “I truly enjoy the fact that the changes I help people make to their little slice of the American Dream is something that they will enjoy and be proud of for years to come.”


Fagin Partners

Kyle and Connor are extremely proud of the homes they have built and are building; their focus is on their customers, the environment, and the union of the two.

The homes built by Fagin Partners are efficient, sustainable, consistent and include the forethought to make it the most comfortable home for their customer. The attention to detail in each home allows each customer to be sure their home is uniquely theirs.

Fagin Partners sees the value in doing good for the environment but also appreciate that these efficiencies greatly impacts the customers. Through innovative materials and technology we create our unique yet comfortable homes. We are constructing homes today to prepare for the changes and needs of the future.

At Fagin Partners, we sacrifice profit on each project to create a high preforming product that pays our customers back every month, year after year.


A Look Inside Texas’ First Internationally Certified Passive House


Sense Energy Monitoring System

Every electrical device has a unique electronic signature — its own voice. The Sense home energy monitor listens to those voices through current sensors in your electric panel. It records them millions of times per second. Then advanced machine learning detection algorithms work to distinguish one appliance from another — to recognize each individual voice. Over time, more and more devices are discovered as the Sense community grows.

https://sense.com


Flo Smart Water Meter Monitoring System

https://meetflo.com

Flo by Moen is installed on the main water supply line to the home. Because it’s installed in-line, this allows Flo by Moen to monitor all water going into the home. The device has three sensors that actively monitor water flow, pressure, and temperature. These sensors, in combination with Flo by Moen’s algorithms, are what enable Flo by Moen to detect and protect the home from problems like leaks, burst pipes, etc.






There's What In This Building?! by Positive Energy

Welcome back for our Season 5 premiere! We decided to kick the year off with a timely and important topic - chemical exposures via building materials. Modern building materials are generally feats of engineering marvel - we’ve managed to manufacture countless high performing systems, yet it has often been at the cost of human exposure to harmful chemicals. But it’s not a hopeless situation. There are people who are helping the average consumer understand what’s what. Join Kristof in a wide ranging conversation with Gina Ciganik and William Weber from the Healthy Building Network.

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Gina Ciganik

Chief Executive Officer

Gina Ciganik

Gina has been growing and scaling HBN’s vision since assuming the CEO role in 2016. Previously she served as Senior Advisor for Housing Innovation, establishing and leading the HomeFree initiative, an expansion of HBN’s healthy materials work into the affordable housing sector. Recognized as a national leader in transforming human and environmental health through strategic partnerships, innovative business practices, education, and leading-edge research, Ciganik has a proven track record of creating healthier spaces where we live, work, and play. Prior to HBN, she was Vice President of Housing Development at a Minneapolis-St. Paul area affordable housing development organization, where she spent two decades creating thousands of healthy, affordable homes. Her efforts culminated in the construction of The Rose, a 90-unit apartment building in Minneapolis that set a new national standard for healthy materials.

William Weber

Collective Impact Director

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Billy oversees the leadership and design of HBN’s communities of practice and educational activities, with a focus on the HomeFree Affordable Housing Initiative. A widely sought and accomplished speaker, technical advisor, and facilitator on innovative projects regionally and nationally, Weber’s work focuses on the integration of sustainability and architecture through applied research, exploring and developing tools to evaluate and compare what are often disparate aesthetic, economic, and environmental goals. Before joining HBN he served in multiple roles over a nearly 20-year stint at the University of Minnesota, including as Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Building Research and Lecturer at the School of Architecture. Weber has both a B.A. and M.Arch. from the University of Minnesota.


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Home Free Website - 9 Product Categories


Chlorine/PVC Research



HPD Repository


Breathe Like You Mean It by Positive Energy

Live from The HIVE Conference held in Austin, TX in 2018, we’re proud to bring you one of the brightest minds in the discipline of indoor air quality research, Dr. Brett Singer from Lawrence Berkley National Labs. Join Kristof as he discusses a broad array of topics that affect every single person who breathes inside a house (so, ya know, most people). It’s our last episode of 2018 and season 4 so we made sure it’s extra long (almost an hour and a half!). Enjoy it and we’ll see you next year!


Dr. Brett Singer, PhD

Brett Singer Positive Energy

Brett C. Singer is a Staff Scientist and Principal Investigator (PI) in the Energy Technologies Area of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Dr. Singer is the Leader of the Indoor Environment Group and co-leader of Indoor Air Quality research in the Residential Building Systems Group. 

Dr. Singer has conceived, conducted and led research projects related to air pollutant emissions, physical-chemical processes, and pollutant exposures in both outdoor and indoor environments. His research aims to understand the real world processes and systems that affect air pollutant exposures. His guiding professional motivation is to provide the scientific basis to inform energy and environmental policy.

Dr. Singer leads the Indoor Environmental Quality project within the US-China Clean Energy Research Center Building Energy Efficiency Program.

A major focus of Dr. Singer’s work over the past decade has been the study of environmental quality and risk reduction in high performance homes. The goal of this research is to accelerate the adoption of IAQ, comfort, durability and sustainability measures into new homes and retrofits of existing homes. This is achieved through the mechanisms of buildings codes and standards; training of builders and contractors; public education; and technology development – all supported by robust research. The IE and RBS research groups conduct in-home studies, controlled laboratory experiments, simulation-based studies and data analysis to identify the most effective and energy efficient air quality control strategies.

Dr. Singer’s early career research examined on-road motor vehicle emissions and the effectiveness of California’s Smog Check program. His first project at LBNL examined the sorption of secondhand smoke compounds, an effect that contaminates materials and leads to extended odors and pollutant exposures. This work helped launch interest in the study of “thirdhand” smoke. 

Dr. Singer has authored or co-authored over 50 papers in archival, peer-reviewed journals and dozens of technical reports and peer-reviewed conference papers.

Education and Honors:

2016: Named to the Academy of Fellows of the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate.

1998: Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. 

1991: B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University (Summa cum Laude). 


Lawrence Berkley National Labs

From the infinite scale of the universe to the infinitesimal scale of subatomic particles, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – Berkeley Lab – are advancing the scope of human knowledge and seeking science solutions to some of the greatest problems facing humankind. Scientific excellence and an unparalleled record of achievement have been the hallmarks of this Laboratory since it was founded in 1931. 

Thirteen Nobel Prizes are associated with Berkeley Lab. Eighty Lab scientists are members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors for a scientist in the United States. Fifteen of our scientists have won the National Medal of Science, our nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research, and one (Arthur Rosenfeld) has received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. In addition, Berkeley Lab has trained tens of thousands of university science and engineering students who are advancing technological innovations across the nation and around the world. 

Located on a 202-acre site in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus with spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram science lab in the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in energy-efficient technologies – from cool roofs to window coatings to appliances – have also been in the billions of dollars. 

Berkeley Lab was founded by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.


Corsi Code

Dr. Richard Corsi, PhD

Dr. Richard Corsi, PhD

Originally from a paper titled,  Klepeis et al., J Exp Anal Env Epid 2001, 11, 231 from Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology published in the year 2001, volume 11 about a study called the National Human Activity Pattern Survey funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency. 





Do You Have 2030 Commitment Issues? by Positive Energy

To support the 2030 Challenge, the American Institute of Architects created the 2030 Commitment Program, aimed at transforming the practice of architecture to respond to the climate crisis in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project-based, and data-driven. Over 400 A/E/P firms have adopted the 2030 Commitment, and firms from all over the country have been tracking and reporting projects since 2010, with over 2.7 billion ft2 of project work reported in 2016 alone. Join Kristof as he interviews Nathan Kipnis of Kipnis Architecture + Planning as they discuss the 2030 Commitment and all topics in-between.


Nathan Kipnis, FAIA, LEED BD+C

Nathan Kipnis

Founder & Principal, Kipnis Architecture + Planning

Nathan Kipnis has spent his career practicing and promoting the importance of sustainability and energy efficiency in architectural design. A life-long interest was initially sparked during the 1973 energy crisis, and Mr. Kipnis designed his first solar home, located in Boulder, CO, when he was just 22 years old.

Master of Architecture  |  Emphasis: Energy Conscious Design - 1985
Arizona State University, Tempe

Bachelor of Environmental Design - 1983
University of Colorado, Boulder

AIA National 2030 Commitment Working Group - 2014 to current (Co-chair 2018-2019)
AIA Chicago 2030 Commitment Working Group - 2010 to 2016 

Citizens Greener Evanston
Board of Directors - 2010 to 2014
Renewable Energy Task Force - 2008 to current

The architectural work designed by Mr. Kipnis has been widely published both locally and nationally.  

Selected awards and distinctions include:
2015 - Elevated to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. 
            The award is given to those who have made significant contributions to the profession and society on a national level.
2011 - Chicago Magazine Green Award
2009 - Home of the Decade, Natural Home Magazine
1999 - Green Homes for Chicago
            A KAP design was selected for this international design competition and built.

"He is one of Chicago's new breed of up-and-coming architects, who blends excellence in architecture with a social conscience. Before the advent of air conditioning, before electricity, everything that was built related to nature. Nate understands that. He made a habit of it long before it was fashionable.” — Stanley Tigerman, FAIA and co-founder of Archeworks.

Viewing the mission beyond his own practice of architecture, Mr. Kipnis’s leadership was instrumental in helping to develop the idea of an offshore wind farm in Lake Michigan off Evanston's shoreline. The work led to a Design Evanston Urban Design/Planning award, and the project is now on the DOE's list of potential offshore wind farm sites. 

Additionally, he currently serves as Co-chair for The National AIA AIA 2030 Commitment’s working groups. In this capacity, he assists architects with the AIA 2030 Commitment, whose goal is to design full Net Zero buildings by 2030. 

Nathan Kipnis also lectures extensively on topics related to sustainable architectural design and renewable energy. He has been an invited speaker at numerous symposiums and conferences, including at national AIA conventions, the Chicago AIA, Archeworks, GreenBuild, The Midwest Renewable Energy Association, the Center for Green Technology in Chicago, and Northwestern University's “Green City Summer Institute,” as well as being one of the keynote speakers at the Mother Earth News Fair, among others.

Recognized as Chicago’s premier award winning sustainable architectural practice, Kipnis Architecture + Planning (KAP)  was founded in 1993 and is based in Evanston, Illinois.  KAP has practiced the architectural design philosophy of 'High Design/Low Carbon™' long before it was in vogue.   They are guided by the idea that architectural design excellence need not be sacrificed for principles of sustainability. Rather, they believe sustainable design expands the possibilities for innovative architectural forms, construction methods and the use of materials. A particular expertise is the architectural integration of passive solar and bioclimatic design. They are early signatories to the AIA's 2030 Commitment, rigorously working towards having their projects be 'net zero' for their energy use by 2030.


Architecture 2030 Challenge

The urban built environment is responsible for 75% of annual global GHG emissions: buildings alone account for 39%. Eliminating these emissions is the key to addressing climate change and meeting Paris Climate Agreement targets. To accomplish this, Architecture 2030 issued The 2030 Challenge in 2006 asking the global architecture and building community to adopt the following targets:

  • All new buildings, developments and major renovations shall be designed to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 70% below the regional (or country) average/median for that building type.

  • At a minimum, an equal amount of existing building area shall be renovated annually to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 70% of the regional (or country) average/median for that building type.

  • The fossil fuel reduction standard for all new buildings and major renovations shall be increased to:

    • 80% in 2020

    • 90% in 2025

    • Carbon-neutral in 2030 (using no fossil fuel GHG emitting energy to operate).

These targets may be met by implementing innovative sustainable design strategies, generating on-site renewable energy, and/or purchasing (20% maximum) off-site renewable energy.


2030 Commitment Program

Join the 2030 Commitment today and become part of a growing network of designers striving to meet the 2030 Challenge targets. Commitment signatories gain access to a host of online tools, educational resources, and mentorship opportunities to support success.

The mission of the AIA 2030 Commitment is to support the 2030 Challenge and transform the practice of architecture in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project based, and data-driven. By prioritizing energy performance, participating firms can more easily work toward carbon neutral buildings, developments and major renovations by 2030.

Joining the 2030 Commitment gives you access to the Design Data Exchange (DDx), a national framework created by AIA with simple metrics and a standardized reporting format for measuring progress. The confidential, easy-to-use DDx lets you pinpoint best practices and anonymously compare project performance in your firm and beyond. The research tool allows you to compare projects of similar type, size, climate, and a host of other attributes across the 2030 portfolio.

Through the 2030 Commitment, you can elevate your practice, save clients money, and combat the effects of global climate change. Explore the resources and articles below to navigate the program.


The AIA+2030 Series

The AIA+2030 Online Series is an educational program aimed at providing design professionals with the high-performance building knowledge necessary to meet the 2030 Challenge targets. Sponsored by Autodesk and delivered through AIAU, the AIA’s online education portal, the highly-rated Online Series is based on the successful AIA+2030 Professional Series that has been offered to over 30% of AIA’s membership in 25 markets throughout the United States.

New 2030 Commitment Signatories get the first course of the AIA+2030 Online Series for free, so join today!


Thanks to our sponsor, Passive House Austin for their generous and continued support of the podcast.

3 Hot Topics Served Crunchy by Positive Energy

What do heat pump water heaters, ERVs, and low static VRF systems have in common? You’re picturing them and we’re talking about them! Join Kristof in a wide-ranging discussion of building science topics with consultant John Semmelhack of Think Little


John Semmelhack

John Semmelhack

John Semmelhack is the owner of Think Little. He is a Certified Passive House Consultant, a member of the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) Technical Committee, and is a PHIUS Trainer for the Certified Passive House Consultant and PHIUS+ Rater training programs. He sits on the boards of the Passive House Alliance U.S. (PHAUS) and the Passive House Alliance U.S. – Capital Chapter.

John is also a certified Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater, a Technical Advisor to builders in the EarthCraft House Virginia green building program, and a BPI-certified Building Analyst. He is a graduate of the Leeds School of Business (no, not that “LEED”) at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

What Do Spec Homes Dream Of? by Positive Energy

If your house could go down a highway at 70MPH, would you trust your architect and builder to make sure it’s not going to fall apart?

Let’s face it - most people can’t build custom homes just like most people can’t afford a Lamborghini. It’s just not a financial reality for so many of us. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t want a car that doesn’t work well and it doesn’t mean we don’t want a high quality home to live in. It sure as hell doesn’t mean we don’t want a healthy environment for ourselves and our families. So what are the economic drivers of a healthy, high quality, affordable home? Join Kristof as he interviews Ben Broughton about the trends in construction economics, job site processes, market dynamics, and the ins-and-outs of quality.


Ben Broughton

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Ben is the Design Build Operations Director for Ames Design Build and oversees the execution of all construction projects. He holds a graduate degree in Construction Science and Management, through which his passion for research resulted in publications in peer-reviewed journals.  He is a building science student who uses his extensive experience in both commercial and residential construction to vertically integrate the land development and high-end residential components of Ames Design Build. Ben is a key driver of the company’s unique business model, which focuses on building to the highest degree of quality while adhering to exacting schedules and budget control in order to ensure success in each Ames Design Build project. Ben rejects the paradigm that you can't simultaneously be on-time, on budget, and achieve high quality.


The Omnivore’s Dilemma

What should we have for dinner? The question has confronted us since man discovered fire, but according to Michael Pollan, the bestselling author of The Botany of Desire, how we answer it today, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, may well determine our very survival as a species. Should we eat a fast-food hamburger? Something organic? Or perhaps something we hunt, gather, or grow ourselves? The omnivore’s dilemma has returned with a vengeance, as the cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet confronts us with a bewildering and treacherous food landscape. What’s at stake in our eating choices is not only our own and our children’s health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth.


What The Heck Is HOMEChem? by Positive Energy

This week’s episode features an interview with Corbett Lunsford on the HOMEChem experiments that were being conducted alongside the filming of a brand new, building science focused show called Home Diagnosis TV (be on the lookout for that). Of course, we're really excited about the potential of Indoor Air Quality education coming to the masses. It's the future fulcrum point of housing and health care.

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5 Principles Of A Healthy Home by Positive Energy

Health is the new green - this message is seemingly everywhere these days. It's clear that a shift is underway in the way we think about our homes and buildings. A quality building does more than just use energy efficiently, it needs to provide for the occupants. This means recognizing that our clients will spend their time immersed in the air we create for them and that indoor air is a dominant exposure. Now is the time to get clear on how our homes and buildings relate to health, comfort and well-being and, more importantly, what to do about it. 

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The Building Science Podcast Presents: The Build Show by Positive Energy

The Building Science Podcast proudly presents a crossover episode with The Build Show. If you haven’t heard of The Build Show yet, now you have. Matt Risinger of Risinger & Co. has a widely popular YouTube channel that you should check out after you hear this episode. It’s dedicated to building science, fine craftsmanship, and exploring the products and techniques available to builders today.

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Locavore Dirt Construction? by Positive Energy

In this episode of the podcast, we interview Brad King of Earthbound Builders in Austin, TX. Brad is the brains and brawns behind applications of locally abundant, natural, minimally processed, low embodied energy building materials. His company is endeavoring to make natural building materials part of the main stream building processes rather than a custom, "hippie" solution.

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Welcome To The Filtration Station by Positive Energy

Today we talk about one of the most important building science topics that many folks don't know enough about - air filtration. It’s a crucial infrastructure element for a healthy home and good indoor air quality. Who knew there was so many important considerations for this often overlooked and ignored component of our industry?

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Let's Get Legal-ish by Positive Energy

When we think about building science, we're thinking about systems and the unseen forces that contribute to the success or failure of a building. Some of the largest and most complicated systems and unseen forces in the AEC industry are the contracts that make or break a project. Join Kristof as he interviews construction attorney, Joe Basham, on all things funky and legal in the AEC industry.

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