A Brief History

The project entails repairing the building at 335 Maplewood Ave in a manner that meets both preservation and sustainability goals. The building is the new location for Petersen Engineering, a firm that has been located in Portsmouth since 1992, and specializes in sustainable building engineering. We intend for this project to showcase techniques & materials that promote both preservation and sustainability and intend to share all aspects of the project locally and regionally through open houses, presentations, industry tradeshows, case studies and publications. We foresee this project being a valuable educational tool to demonstrate that preservation goals need not be compromised by sustainability goals. We have teamed with Bruss Construction who we know from past collaborations has exceptional experience and expertise on projects with the dual goal of preservation and sustainability.

The project received approval by the Historic District Commission on January 6, 2010 with construction scheduled to begin early February 2010.

The projected peak heat loss reduction is 85%.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lots of snow - no ice dams

James climbed up to shovel off the kitchen roof.

We shoveled off a little section of the insualted roof to inspect the ice damming situation.

It looks pretty good.

There is a little bit of ice on the edge but we suspect that that is from rain we had earlier in the week that might have taken a little bit of time to migrate down through the snow.

The underside of the drip edge is exposed to the elements and is conductive so when the rain water did trickle down - it must have froze the moment it hit the bottom of the roof where the flashing is. The strip of ice is about the depth of the drip edge. Just a thought...

I took the old temperature gun out on the roof and it is pretty cool to see the surface temperatures of the building assemblies from the outside and how they relate to the assembly R-value. It is pretty cool to see the temperatures corrilate with the thermal performance of the assemblies.

Outside temp of the snow in the shade.

R-18 Wall (no direct sunlight)

R-3 Window (The frame where I am shooting is probably a little less than R-2)

R-32 Roof

Monday, January 24, 2011

335 Maplewood Video by Now or Never Media

Click on the link below to see Now or Never Media's professionally produced 5 minute video about the project here at 335 Maplewood!


Bill Rogers of Now or Never Media capturing some footage.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

No heat in my office..

My office is the only room in the entire building that has been finished. Lucky me! The floors are sanded and refinished, it was re-plastered, painted, and is the only room with window trim. The only thing that this room is lacking is HEAT (which is funny since we are a HVAC Engineering firm). The conference room below me had its baseboard lines cut too.

We purchased a sexy new Runtal Radiator with a thermostat, valve fittings, and all the bells and whistles needed to hook it up back in the fall. It is all sitting right here here in my office, leaning up against the wall - ready to go. We have been waiting for the basement slab to be installed before hiring a plumber to come in a hook it up since marching around in the basement in a half foot of slippery mud is a less than ideal work environment.

Needless to say, my room has been a little chilly. Warmth from the rest of the building does not quite migrate its way over to my little office the way that I had hoped it would. When i get to work in the morning, the temp will be in the low 60s which might as well be sub-zero when you are sitting still in a chair all day.

Keep in mind that this room is wrapped in 3" of continuous insulation at the walls and 6" at the roof, just like the rest of the building. I had hoped that maybe the load in this room would be so low that I would be able to survive from the warmth from the rest of the building. Ehh... Almost. As good as the enclosure is in this room, it is still has 3 decent sized R-3 windows. When I use my wizard stick smoke generator and blow a puff of smoke at the window, you can see the smoke get sucked into the convective loop at the surface of the glass and the smoke runs down the surface of the window like a waterfall.

You can see in the table above that the load from the 3 windows in this room is just about equal to the load of the entire roof! This just goes to show that windows are bad bad bad insulators.


To make up for this lack of heat while I paitently have been waiting to have my radiator hooked up, I have been heating my room with two 100w incandescent lightbulbs. As silly as it sounds, it has done a great job at taking the edge off in here. 90% of that 100w goes toward generating heat (this is why these lightbulbs are sooo bad). The light fixtures warn to not use anything over 60w but I figured out that if I point my desk lamp up, the amount of air that is drawn from all of the rising heat is enough to effectively cool the lamp. Don't worry everyone, I don't leave these lightbulbs unattended. (yes - I cleaned my desk to take this picture. It usually looks like a paper grenade went off)

By the way - This is what I see when I look up from my chair. Thanks to the continuous exterior insulation, we were able to preserve this beautiful structure and prevent it from being permantly spray foamed over or covered up by interior insulation.

See the little bookshelf up in the structure?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Finished Slab

Alright! The basement slab is done! This is great! It has been quite a journey to get to this point and it has been one of the most dramatic transformations that I have seen in this renovation.

The next big step in the basement is going to be to spray foam the walls. We anticipate this happening sometime this winter with no set date on the calendar yet.

The Site Structures guys found this Black Label Beer bottle while doing their slab pour prep-work. A quick Google search tells me that Black Label was one of the top 10 breweries in the US in the mid 1950's. Great find!

This is our sump pump pit located under the stairs. The current water level rests a few inches below the rigid insulation and is self governed by a pre-existing gravity drain located in the south east corner of the basement. We had the gravity drain exit inspected and it does not connected to the city sewer system. We suspect that it is simply a length of pipe that is full of cracks and holes that does a good job dissipating water down hill from our basement - kind of like a leach field does with a septic system.

If everything goes to plan, water should continue to drain itself and maintain this water level the way that it has has for the past 50-100-200? years. We don't know when that drain was installed. In the event that the gravity drain stops accepting water, we will (unfortunately) need to pump the water to daylight if it becomes a problem. So far we have not needed to pump anything. Heck, James pulled the pump right out of the sump pit!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ahhh Yessssss.... Below Slab Insulation

The site structures crew is scrambling to finish the basement prep-work in time for the concrete truck that will be here at 7 AM tomorrow morning to pour the slab. They in the process of finishing up laying down the below slab insulation and are starting to tack the slab edge insulation into place. Once all of the insulation is in place, they are going to roll out a thick yellow vapor barrier and tape the seams which will create a neat and tightly bathtub for the concrete to be poured into.
(below slab insulation walk through TODAY)

(It was only 2 weeks ago it looked like this...)

(laying down layer of geotextile fabric 2 weeks ago)

(the crushed stone being conveyer belted into the basement 2 weeks ago)

I just learned how to convert videos from my Sony camera (somebody took my Flip camera) into the correct format for uploads :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Foundation Shelf

In the back "L" of the basement, the foundation walls do not go down as far as the rest of the building. We need to provide lateral support for that soil beneath these shorter sections of wall so that it may retain its high compressive strength. We are going to do this by pouring a 6" concrete shelf to hold any exposed earth back.

(Imagine standing in a box of tennis balls (random analogy). If you were careful and maybe had some help, you could probably stand on top of the balls. Now imagine you are standing on top of box of tennis balls and somebody removes one side of that box. What is going to happen? The tennis balls are going to explode out the side and you are going to fall on your butt. In order for the tennis balls to have any compressive strength to carry a load (you) it needs lateral support to hold it all together (box). Get it? By excavating below the foundation wall, we essentially just removed a wall of our box.)

red = exposed earth

6" thick concrete shelf is poured around the sections of wall that would have exposed above the top of the finished slab.

The poured slab protects and reinforces and remaining sections of exposed earth.

This is what the final product is going to look like (except the translucent brick). Notice the 6" step? We decided to use a step to reduce the amount of exposed earth that we needed to pour a shelf for.

This is the section of wall before the shelf was poured. There was about 20" of exposed earth below the bottom of the foundation wall. Yikes!

The following pictures were taken today of the forms for the concrete shelf being removed:

This ridge vent material is going to provide us with a little space to let any liquid water from the foundation wall to drain down, bypass the concrete slab, and make its way to the drainage system below.

James and the Site Structures guys going over sump pump piping.