Want to know how to build healthier homes?
Building healthier homes is not only possible: it’s the best way to create a quality, energy efficient and fantastic family home.
James Cornell from Life Panels shares the ‘big 3’ of your home’s building fabric when building healthier homes.
This is Part 1 of my conversation with James.
Hello! This is Episode 234, and in it, I’m kicking off a 3 part series of interviews with James Cornell, all about building healthier homes.
James Cornell has been an industry expert on the topic of construction and sustainability for over 20 years. As a licensed builder and master carpenter, and also as a Passive House Certified Consultant, he has become increasingly interested in sustainable construction and the use of materials in creating a better way to build and, ultimately, live.
He’s also the founder and owner of Life Panels, a business that supplies sustainable wood fibre insulation and building systems for walls, roofs and floors of any residential projects.
James has an amazing knack of demystifying the topics of building envelopes, building performance, and building science. So, if you’re keen to understand more about how to create a home that’s energy efficient, durable and great quality as a thermally comfortable home, this will be perfect for you.
I find that, often homeowners are focussed on their floor plan design, and the aesthetics of their home, how it’ll appear and the overall form, but don’t know much about the materials they’re going to build it from.
Some can start thinking about their material selections as they’re figuring out their construction costs, or speaking with designers or builders about what they normally build from. Or they’ll perhaps see a home that’s the kind of style they like, and see what it’s built from, and so start investigating materials that way.
More and more though, I’m finding that homeowners are investigating the materials they construct their home from with a variety of different goals. These can include:
- Thermal performance
They’re also diving into the whole topic of building science, and how individual building materials, and combinations of building materials, can create the right kind of building envelope for their climate.
Whether you’re considering building passive house, or simply wanting to achieve the best results from conventional building methodology, then it’s helpful to understand building science and how to build a better and healthier home, starting with the building fabric, or your floor, wall and roof construction.
And that’s why I wanted to bring James Cornell onto the podcast. I connected with James last year, and have been really keen to bring him, and his incredible knowledge and passion for better and healthier homes to the podcast. He’s got such a great way of demystifying the whole topic of building science, building envelopes and building in a better way.
Since moving to Australia in 2015, James’ focus shifted from construction towards education around sustainable buildings. Through his company Life Panels, he became the primary importer of woodfibre systems within the Australasian market. His mission is to educate on the incredible benefits and demystify the science behind passive house building.
James started Life Panels after years of research in natural and sustainable building systems. There are many options but he felt that wood fibre offered the best and most versatile solution for many applications without compromise. Ten years of hard work has gone into getting this product to the Australian market and the company is proudly Australian owned and operated.
Life Panels supplies wood fibre insulation and building systems for walls, roofs and floors, that in particular can assist with Passive House design and construction requirements. However, they’re applicable for any residential project as they enable fast and easy installation, using non-toxic products, to achieve thermal performance, moisture control and overheating control.
My conversation with James is broken into three parts that I’ll be sharing over this and the coming episodes. So, settle in for a masterclass in what James calls “The Big 3” of building fabric: Thermal Performance, Moisture Control and Overheating Control.
In this episode, Part 1, I talk with James about thermal performance, and in particular low thermal bridging and air tightness. We also start talking about moisture control and breathability in your home as well.
This information is relevant whether you’re building a passive house, or simply wanting to create a fantastic, durable and comfortable home.
Over the 3 episodes, we discuss these topics related to building healthier homes:
- Low thermal bridging (The ideal solution to create low thermal bridging is to fit insulation in a continuous wrap around the building).
- Air tightness (Crucial for reducing air leakage and aiding thermal performance by limiting the fluctuations between hot and cold).
- Moisture control (Direct / Indirect / Atmospheric – Understanding how moisture behaves is crucial to a healthy building. The building fabric has to allow moisture to flow in and out. Materials that trap or hold moisture cause many problems).
- Breathability (4 lane highway effect – essential when improving thermal performance)
- Relative humidity (Aiming for a balanced and optimum internal relative humidity is key to good air quality and comfortable living. Correct ventilation is a key consideration).
- Thermal mass (In order to work properly, materials must have very low thermal conductivity and high heat storage capabilities. Materials like concrete are inferior when compared to wood fibre).
- Decrement delay (Slowing down how long it takes for the sun’s heat to pass through a roof or a wall. Reduce heat gain in summer and keep low level heat in during winter).
All about Life Panels wood fibre products:
- Different product types
- How they perform
- What they’re made from
- Requirements for installation
Website (Home page includes cost comparison with conventional building materials) >>> https://lifepanels.com/
Building Physics PDF Guide >>> https://lifepanels.com/pages/home-insulation-building-physics
Instagram >>> https://www.instagram.com/lifepanels/
60mm Wood Fibre Insulation Rigid Board >>> https://lifepanels.com/pages/combi-panels (and video https://youtu.be/QCj1peae3_w)
Wood Fibre Bulk Insulation >>> https://lifepanels.com/pages/bulk-infill (and video https://youtu.be/8G7yvyx2cuQ)
Life Panels download PDF Factsheets
- Life Panels Case Study (Byron Home 2021)
- Heat Test (comparison)
- The Multifunctional Roles of Thermal Mass
- Performance Evaluation (Comparison with other insulation products)
Access the support and guidance you need to be confident and empowered when renovating and building your family home inside my flagship online program >>> HOME METHOD
Learn more about how to get started with your home design with the Happy Home Design mini-course >>> HAPPY HOME DESIGN
Access my free online workshop “Your Project Plan” >>> FREE WORKSHOP
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