When there’s Rain, there’s the risk of Mold

It can be hard to combat mold, especially with recent changes to building code, wood structural building components will dry out under dry outdoor weather conditions after the structure is put under roof, sheathed, sided and roughed-in (mechanicals) — assuming the structural components are not exposed to further wetting from rain. Such drying must occur before the components are “closed-in” (e.g. covered up with insulation and drywall).



The BuildSMART panel design protects the integrity of the building’s weather resistive, thermal and air barrier envelope by keeping materials and processes dry, and focusing on a seamless process in the factory, we check several quality control concerns off the list.


Looking for best practices? To ensure you have the most current mold facts and mold mitigation and remediation information can look to two new research reports created by the Structural Building Components Association (SBCA).

Promoting Passive House in North Carolina

As a member of North Carolina Building Performance Association (NCBPA), BuildSMART is participating in efforts to Establishing QAP credits for PH construction through NC Housing Finance Agency, moving residential and commercial code towards PH principles and methods and promoting multifamily PH opportunities and case studies in the state.

NCBPA focuses on creating career opportunities, educating building owners on high performance building, creating visibility for high performance buildings, and supporting related policies and legislation. http://www.buildingnc.org/

#passivehouse #BuildSMARTna  #ThatsBuildingPerformance #Construction #NCEEDay2018 #Prefabrication #modular  #EnergyEfficiency  #multifamily


Building Affordability, Piece by Piece

BuildSMART is well aware of America’s well-documented affordable housing crisis which is often framed in terms of the big urban areas, where housing and living costs are sky high and rapid gentrification pushes rents and prices up and lower-income residents out. But the affordability crisis is also playing out across rural America. At BuildSMART we recognize the serious risk to our country this presents as well as the major opportunities the crisis presents for innovation. With these problem-solving opportunities popping up so are the companies offering their own solutions for pre-fabrication and modular design, this housing and affordability crisis can be abated.

Federal Reserve findings indicate a growing percentage of renters are either cost-burdened or extremely cost-burdened by rising rents and stagnating incomes. The Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University published a 2017 study that found more than one-third of U.S. households were rental units. The research further suggests that overall household growth will be strong over the next decade as larger numbers of the extremely large millennial generation move out on their own — therefore pushing the number of households in our country, higher.

BuildSMART is Proud to be Part of the Solution

The shortage of affordable housing is becoming critical across the United States. We are very grateful to all the developers that have been turning to BuildSMART for high performance, high quality affordable housing solutions. We agree wholeheartedly with the premise that every American should have safe, decent and affordable housing. This article documents the 2018 gap between wages and the cost of rental housing, state by state.



BuildSMART’s high efficiency, air tight wall panels save so much time and labor in construction. Now more than ever - when skilled labor is so hard to find – developers are looking for bold ways to keep housing costs affordable. They are discovering BuildSMART’s ability to adapt to their project specific requirements. We are proud to be part of the solution.


BuildSMART Believes in Building Affordability

Every industry must modernize if they expect to meet the demands of our evolving world. The construction industry is no different As a report from McKinsey & Company points out, the construction industry is in need of serious innovation. The Terner Center released a new paper exploring the benefits, barriers and breakthroughs needed to significantly expand this construction method in the American market, particularly in the multifamily development sector.

From inception, BuildSMART’s focus has been on making high performance building simple, fast and affordable. We have over 10 years' project experience with panelized walls on Passive House projects and others with very high demands for greater energy efficiency and durability. We produce building envelope systems ranging from net zero energy ready to code compliant. All with panels that have continuous exterior insulation, and windows and doors already installed and sealed tight against leaks. Energy-efficiency is now possible for anyone who chooses to use BuildSMART products.

Net Zero by Accident

The folks here like to say that BuildSMART’s prefabricated building envelope system is “The Easy Button” and this story proves it.

Rik Kakareko is building his new home himself in Shacklefords, VA using BuildSMART J-Form insulated foundation system and Net ZeroREADY exterior wall panel system. He is finishing it now. Rik’s goal was not full Passive House Certification but after going through his first peak cooling season he made a surprising conclusion. As Rik says, “It wasn't my intention to build a net zero energy house. But in fact “It would be easy to make this house offgrid.” Now that’s the easy button! Using BuildSMART systems has exceeded expectations and inadvertently at least created a net-zero home. When has that ever happened?!?

BuildSMART keeps getting word from our customers about amazing building performance, great air-tightness test results, very high quality windows and doors, speed of getting the building dried in and the amazing quietness inside, but this accidental net zero is unprecedented. Congratulations to Rik for doing such great work. He has been a pleasure to work with from the start.

#BuildSMARTna #passivehouse #NetZero #solararray #photovoltaic #DIYhome

13th Annual North American Passive House Conference

BuildSMART's Karan Gupta opening the Design Awards at NAPHC. Well deserved congratulations to the winners!

Capital Flats - Phase 3, The Battery

Groundbreaker Award: Green Building United


ULI Philadelphia Willard Rouse Award of Excellence


PHIUS Multifamily Project of the Year Award:


Design Philadelphia 2018, 2nd place.  It was a long shot entering this project into a product design competition but they didn’t think so:

#NAPHC #BuildSMARTna #passivehouse

BuildSMART is locked and loaded at NAPHC 2018:

Our headline this year is, “Passive House Firewalls”

As the Passive House community moves beyond single family homes into multifamily projects and other large projects, the new energy code requirements for exterior insulation are not coordinated with the approved fire rated assemblies in the building code. It is a complicated situation that we is solving. BuildSMART really is “the easy button” for fire rated high performance buildings.
#NAPHC #BuildSMARTna #passivehouse


Path to Zero

BuildSMART proudly supports Passive House Institute US, the 13th Annual North American Passive House Conference! As sponsors, exhibitors and presenters, BuildSMART is all in at NAPHC.
#NAPHC #BuildSMARTna #passivehouse

Builder’s Hootenanny

Karan and Rob press “The Easy Button”

BuildSMART’s presentation kicked off with a local TV news clip from Erie, PA about one of our projects - an affordable multifamily project that used unskilled labor (from the neighborhood where the project is located) to build a high performance building. Pretty amazing! Prefabrication is the key. BuildSMART makes it easy for builders and developers to succeed.

The body of the presentation was about the people of BuildSMART, our processes and QAQC protocols so that projects can hit The Easy Button with confidence.

Lively Q&A ensued.
#NAPHC #BuildSMARTna #passivehouse

Promoting Passive House for Developers, Architects and Builders

BuildSMART’s Rob Leonard presenting at North American Passive House Conference with a big message: team collaboration and myth busting. He was followed by James Gepner and Zack Semke’s talk on using deep research to target your message. The third presentation of the session by Christina Abmann and Amber Bartosh using virtual reality presentation techniques. Put them together and the audience got a brilliant and insightful look at how Passive House will be spread in the design and construction industry.

#NAPHC #BuildSMARTna #passivehouse #PHIUS

Powerful Passive House Profitability Presentation

BuildSMART’s Paul Grahovac presented “Profitability of Panelized Passive House Explained.” Actually it is an understatement to say that he presented. It was a performance! Paul, “the old country lawyer,” with pointer in hand took the audience through the numbers. Showing how building to passive house standards with prefabricated wall panels makes great economic sense for a developer.
#NAPHC #passivehouse #profitability #BuildSMARTna

Fire Rated Multifamily Passive House

Tom Schneider of BEI presenting the advantages of prefabrication for fire rated walls in PH buildings. According to Katrin Klingenberg, Exec Director and Co-founder at PHIUS, this question of fire rated panels in Passive House projects is at the leading edge of new passive house applications. With the new energy code requiring exterior insulation and the building lagging behind without approved wall assemblies with exterior insulation, firewalls are a really complex issue for architects, developers and builders of large multifamily passive house projects. Tom’s presentation and BuildSMART’s prototype firewalls provide great solutions that are ready to use.
#firerated #passivehouse #NAPHC #BuildSMARTna

What is Passive House?

Passive House is an energy efficiency standard for buildings, originally developed as “Passivhaus” by Professors Bo Adamson Wolfgang Feist in Germany in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is the most rigorous building standard for energy efficiency, and the most effective path to achieving net-zero energy buildings.

While there are many other “green building” standards in the marketplace today, Passive House is notable for its singular focus on operating energy, while others may also focus on aspects such as water use, material sourcing, transportation infrastructure, and more. The original standard as developed in Germany is still administered today around the world by Passivhaus International (PHI), and is a performance-based standard with three key metrics.

≤ 1.4 kWh/ft2 or ≤ 4.75 kBTU/ft2 annual heating and cooling demand

≤ 11.1 kWh/ft2 or ≤ 38.1 kBTU/ft2 annual total primary energy demand

≤ 0.05 CFM50 and 0.08 CFM75 per square foot of gross envelope area


Since the founding of Passive House Institute United States, (PHIUS) in 1997, the standard has been revised to account for the variability of the domestic climate. In 2015, the new US standard, PHIUS+ 2015 was introduced with its own set of performance metrics. These metrics set limits on airtightness according to building envelop area and on annual heating and cooling demand and peak heating and cooling loads, specific to the climate where the project is located. There is also an overall source energy limit, and in line with the 2030 Challenge, must be source net-zero by y2030. In addition, new projects certified under PHIUS must qualify for the US DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program and the US EPA Indoor airPLUS program. Project performance must be verified by a rater pre- and post-occupancy.

There are hundreds certified Passive House buildings in the US today, both under the PHI standard and the PHIUS standards. For both standards, Certified Passive House Consultants use the advance Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) modeling software to model building energy performance, and the results of these models form the basis for verification and certification.

The metrics of either standard can represent overall energy usage reductions of 60 – 80% (and space heating and cooling energy demand reductions of approximately 90%) compared to traditional buildings. Such performance is achieved through several core principles:

IR ph image.png

Infrared Image exterior of a Passive House.

  • Thermal insulation – minimizes heat transfer through opaque elements of the building envelope’s surface.

  • Reduction of thermal bridges – prevents conductive heat transfer through structural elements.

  • High-performance windows – minimizes conductive and convective heat transfer through building glazing, as well as window frames, while allowing control of visibility and radiative heat gain.

  • Airtightness – prevents convective heat transfer from uncontrolled air movement between the interior and exterior of the building.

  • Balanced ventilation with energy recovery – provides 100% fresh outdoor air, preconditioned through high efficiency heat exchange.

  • Efficient mechanical systems – decrease energy demand and internal heat gains.

  • Passive elements – utilize building orientation and shading to optimize natural light and solar heat gain.

  • Readiness for renewable integration – allows building to achieve net-zero energy by way of photovoltaics, solar thermal, geothermal, wind power, etc.


Besides the obvious advantage of reduced operating costs through lower energy use, Passive House buildings offer a number of additional benefits:

  • Increased occupant comfort – by eliminating drafts and minimizing temperature differentials between indoor surfaces.

  • Improved indoor air quality – through a constant, controlled supply of filtered, fresh outdoor air.

  • Little to no marginal cost – increased costs to achieve the Passive House standard can be offset by downsized HVAC equipment.

  • Passive resilience – because of their low-energy design, Passive House structures can maintain superior comfort over traditional buildings in the event of power outages or other unforeseen circumstances.

  • Potential for carbon neutrality – low energy demand, integrated with renewable energy technologies, can lead the way to a sustainable, carbon-free future.