Tight houses, are we on the right track?
I think in my 30 years in the trades I’ve seen a steadfast attempt to seal buildings tighter and tighter in the name of reducing heating and cooling costs.
And while building scientists may have achieved a level of success stopping air movement through the envelope, we are faced with more and more health issues which led to the widespread use of mechanical air handlers to insure the flow of fresh air into, and less healthy air out of the building.
It seems like we are relying on these mechanical devices more and more. It’s not hard for me to imagine a “climate control computer” which will measure relative humidity and start and stop the necessary air handling equipment to reach a specified range similar to the way a thermostat controls the temperature…someone out there is probably reading this thinking “no fooling, Jim, we’ve had those for years”.
But something doesn’t feel right about all these “advances”. It seems like we made errors in judgement a couple generations ago and ever since we keep piling more and more fixes on top of one mistake after another, that we are spiraling farther and farther in one direction instead of stopping and reevaluating certain ideas about the buildings we live and work in.
Am I alone in this uneasy feeling? You know, like when you open up a wall in a hundred year old house and the lumber looks better than anything you can buy today? That compared with taking apart a fairly new building and finding mold?
Somebody help me out here. What the heck am I missing?