Integrated Forms and Insulation
Energy and utilities consumption is directly related to habitat comfort. Moisture control is an essential part of building health.
Ventilation and humidity control are inextricably linked for building health as well as inhabitant health and comfort.
Taking the right steps to control moisture from the inception of the construction process is essential for our building envelopes to perform as designed.
Note: Although Abide Systems installs foundations, and we don’t require it as a condition of our contracts, foundation subs must install an approved system (indicated below) according to manufacturer instructions. The installation must be verified for compliance by the ABCS Certified General Engineering contractor building the balance of the system in order for the building to have an Abide Systems certification and warranty. Slab-on-grade construction is relatively straight forward (we still insulate under the slabs), so we’re going to focus on buildings that have basements.
Knowing the ground temperature helps to understand what will be needed to optimize the amount of insulation. If you use too little, then too much thermal transference (heat loss) will occur; too much will add to the cost of construction without delivering sufficient additional benefit to make it pay. This will impact the operation of the passive and mechanical air circulation systems, affect comfort levels in the building (we can sense as little as a 2 degree change in temperature), and it may increase utilities/cost of operations.
There are a couple of “rules of thumb” for estimating the ground temperature where you live. One is that it equals the annual average air temperature for the area. In Hartford, CT actual readings put it at about 49 degrees F.
The other rule of thumb is 90 degrees F minus the latitude. Hartford is at 41 degrees north, confirming an average ground temperature of about 49 degrees F.
To keep your inside at 70 degrees, that’s a temperature difference of about 21 degrees F.
Assuming your building’s walls are well insulated, a high percentage of heat loss would be into the ground where your foundation connects with it.
Bringing Back Earth Tubes
Channeling the Outside Air
It bears noting here that our various federal, state and even local governments have a vested interest in continuing and even increasing energy consumption by the citizenry. Though there seems to be strong advocacy for sustainability in construction and energy conservation, they still need us to consume energy. Years ago the earth tube industry was all but abandoned, when gas was still $1 and fuel oil was 65 cents a gallon, there was no appreciable independent building science research – and we built structures to “breathe” through their exterior walls – ignorant of the perils.
Abide Systems is intent on delivering a highly effective low-cost passive air handling system. This includes passive energy recovery ventilation system using natural forces to process and circulate air. You can find more information on Earth Tubes in our section on Air Management Technology.
Our basic foundation system design includes passive air handling by channeling the outside air through earth tubes – a duct system that runs under the foundation slab insulation, so it can cool or recalesce before entering into the filtration system, the energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system, and the mechanical air heating and cooling system. A solar powered module, a part of the environmental automation system, is able to determine which port – and in which proportion – to send this fresh air through, depending on the temperature and humidity setting in the program.
Our passive air handling system takes advantage of ground temperature during the summer to keep your building cooler. In the winter, the warmer ground under the building tempers the incoming outside air and assists the energy recovery system’s efficiency.
Foundation Drainage Plans
We provide plans (even if the foundation is not included in our contract) for the excavating and foundation contractors to prepare for our work – the energy efficiency of the foundation.
We install waterproof membranes, the moisture control and water-diversion (drain) systems, the insulation and the under-slab ductwork for the passive energy recovery ventilation (ERV) air management system.
The ICF’s We Like To Use
In the FOUNDATIONS: How We Work section we’re going to get into Insulated Concrete Form systems a little and why we know they’re the only way to go for poured concrete foundations nowadays. We’ll also be get into Form A Drain and more details about why we use these particular systems… but you should already know it’s because they save time, money, they’re more efficient altogether and better for the environment overall.
ICF Manufacturers Preferred by ABCS
Abide Systems has determined that the following systems work best for our high performance building designs, depending on the particulars of the project.
(Clicking the name will take you to their site in a new window.)
ARXX – Leading ICF supplier for “green, energy efficient residential and commercial construction.”
NUDURA – “An ICF system that is energy efficient, quick to build, and sound proof.”
INTEGRASPEC – “A quality, high performing ICF wall system.”