AK Couple Seals Air-Tight Record

FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013


This story isn’t just off the wall. It’s off four 28-inch-thick walls.

A couple in the small fishing town of Dillingham, AK, has built a 590-square-foot, two-bedroom, super energy-efficient home that has been deemed the “World’s Tightest Residential Building” by the World Record Academy.

The heat and power bill for the simple Alaskan abode runs about $900 per year, compared to the area's average of $5,000, according to reports.

Dr. Tom Marsik and his wife, Kristin Donaldson, received the world record in March after submitting a 10-minute video demonstrating a blower-door test on their home. The test is used during energy audits to determine the air infiltration rate of a building, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The air-tightness of the home measured at 0.05 Air Changes per Hour (ACH) at a differential pressure of 50 pascals.

'Way, Way Tighter'

"I knew you did a fantastic job in sealing this house, but I don't know how you got it that tight,” Gorden Isaacs, a building analyst with a national certification from the Building Performance Institute, said during the video.

University of Alaska Fairbanks Bristol Bay Campus / YouTube

In early March, Dr. Tom Marsik and his wife, Kristin Donaldson, submitted this video to the World Records Academy demonstrating a blower-door test, used to determine the air infiltration rate of the home. Weeks later, they received notification that their house was the "World's Tightest Residential Building."

“It's way way tighter than anything I have ever tested before,” Isaacs said.

In fact, experts say buildings in the 1 to 2 ACH range are “exceptionally efficient.”

From Work to Home

The couple began building their home in 2010 based on the rigorous codes of the Passive House standard.

Marsik took his work home for this project. He is an assistant professor of sustainable energy at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Bristol Bay campus.

He and his wife modeled the home after the Passive Office, an educational tool he helped to develop as part of the UAF Bristol Bay Sustainable Energy Program.

Materials to build the house cost $169,500, according to a PowerPoint prepared by Marsik. Additional project details and diagrams are also available in the document.

Key Energy Features

The key energy features of the home include 28-inch-thick walls (R-90) and ceiling (R-140), an extremely well-sealed vapor barrier, and ventilation via HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator), according to project details.

Moreover, most of the energy needed to heat the home comes as a byproduct from appliances, lighting, passive solar gain and body heat.

While the couple enjoys the spotlight on their cozy house, they would also be fine with losing the record crown. For them, the goal and reward are about bringing attention to the importance of energy efficiency—in buildings and in general.

“The more awareness we can raise, the more people will be encouraged to save energy and resources for future generations," said Marsik.

   

Tagged categories: Air barriers; Awards and honors; Building enclosure system; Building Envelope; Building envelope; Energy efficiency; Insulation; Sealers

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