Builders FirstSource is proud to partner with The Build Show to present Build Science™ 101. This series will sharpen your foundational knowledge, introduce game-changing concepts, and perhaps even challenge a few beliefs. Be prepared for a transformative journey through the art and science of building. Build Science™ will teach you techniques to improve indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency, and overall occupant health and comfort.

This series includes several videos featuing Matt Risinger and Steve Baczek sharing their expertise on the fundamentals of building science, and there is also a free eBook you can download below that goes along with the videos.

The eBook includes links that will direct you to The Build Show's site, where you can take quizzes to go along with the lessons and earn certificates.

1. Why Do We Build?
Matt & Steve begin the series with a fundamental question: why are we building? Any builder may have a different answer, but they all ultimately come back to creating a space in which the owner can feel comfortable and in control of the environment.

This episode sets the tone for the rest of the series by touching on the importance of using building science to create these spaces and looking at how the history of building science has impacted America's building patterns.
2. Why Building Science Matters - Durability
This episode emphasizes the importance of durability in construction, stressing that if a building doesn't last, all other aspects become irrelevant.

It emphasizes the role of proper insulation, humidity control, material quality, and water management in ensuring a building's long life. They also challenge the notion of houses needing to "breathe" and underscore the need for a sophisticated understanding of construction practices to prioritize durability.
3. The Building Science Behind Comfort and Health
This episode explores the multifaceted concept of comfort, considering both builder and homeowner perspectives.

They discuss climate tuning, the role of HVAC equipment, and the importance of understanding temperature and humidity variations based on location. Additionally, it highlights various factors affecting indoor air quality, from filtration systems to off-gassing materials, cleaners, and air fresheners.
4. Energy Efficiency and Environmental Responsibility
This episode spotlights putting a strong emphasis on both comfort and efficiency. Matt and Steve advise that comfort naturally leads to efficiency thanks to improved insulation and moisture control, which in turn reduces the reliance on power-hungry HVAC systems.

Moreover, the episode introduces the concept of stewardship within construction, highlighting the importance of cost-effective energy conversion and retention as well as the control of heat flow and moisture in building assemblies.
5. Where is Building Science?
In this episode Matt & Steve discuss how building science is an integral part of every construction facet, dispelling the misconception that it can be treated as an afterthought. The episode critiques the utilization of labels in marketing building performance, emphasizing that building science is not an accessory but a foundational element.

It presents building science as a perspective that demands comprehension and seamless integration.
6. Achieving Building Science
Matt and Steve shift focus toward a discussion of achieving control in construction that ensures comfort, health, durability, energy efficiency, and environmental responsibility. Four key control layers are introduced: air, water, vapor, and thermal management, and how integrated approaches are necessary since they all work in tandem.

They emphasize how every element in building contributes to control layers and how to use measurement tools to assess quality.
7. Water Management
In this episode Matt & Steve discuss the role of water management in construction and dissect it into three key aspects: protection measures such as overhangs and canopies, mitigation strategies including both barrier and water-managed systems, and prevention tactics like proper ground sloping and rain gutters.

Because water is the leading destroyer of buildings and the primary reason for litigation in construction, the episode highlights the connection between climate, risk, and the vulnerability of structures to weather.
8. Airtightness
Matt & Steve consider airtightness among the most significant aspects of building science. Here, they introduce the Blower Door test as a game-changing metric to measure air tightness, now incorporated into building codes across many regions. Key concepts like continuity, separation, and escalation are explored.

The episode also underscores the vital connection between air tightness and energy efficiency, urging adherence to increasingly strict building codes and clear differentiation between indoor and outdoor spaces.
9. Vapor and Vapor Control
While vapor and moisture are ubiquitous, they often evoke confusion and misconceptions. This episode highlights the importance of understanding vapor's behavior, emphasizing that vapor itself isn't problematic—condensation is the real concern. Relative humidity is discussed, demonstrating how it varies with temperature.

Matt & Steve discuss the concept of uniform load regarding moisture and show what materials to use to achieve a balance between wetting and drying potential.
10. Wrapping Up with Thermal Insulation
The series concludes with a discussion on thermal management, specifically insulation, the most regulated aspect of construction.

Matt & Steve emphasize the importance of continuity in insulation. They explain how proper insulation can significantly impact a building's overall thermal efficiency, offering insights into optimizing thermal resistance and understanding cavity vs. continuous insulation.


Take The Build Show's building science quizzes and earn a certificate for each lesson.

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This series, aimed at building professionals, combines engineering, architecture, chemistry, and physics concepts to help builders create structures that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. It covers essential building science issues, such as water management, air tightness, vapor management, and thermal management. The goal is to graduate from good to great in building by acquiring a deeper understanding of spaces, energy efficiency, comfort, health, and durability. 

This guidebook follows along with the videos, and includes links to take quizzes on The Build Show site where you can earn digital certificates for each lesson.

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Building Science is the knowledge that improves indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency, and overall occupant health and comfort.

One of the main purposes of Building Science is to provide the predictive capability to design and optimize non-structural building performance for existing and new buildings.

Utilizing Building Science will prevent building failures and improve building quality, while guiding builders to new techniques and technologies.


Matt started learning about construction by working summers at an inner-city ministry that fixed up row houses for elderly people who owned their homes but couldn’t afford to maintain them. He later earned a BS in Industrial Management from Grove City College, and the national mold crisis in 2002 lead him to the path of Building Science. He wanted to learn why these houses were failing and learning everything about the science behind construction has been a passion ever since.

Steve Baczek is a registered architect with over 30 years of construction industry experience. Utilizing his strong Building Science background, he strives to integrate sound design practices with good construction practices to provide exceptional solutions. His residential work includes over 50 Leed Platinum Homes, numerous Zero Energy Homes, and Certified Passive Homes. Many of Steve's renovation projects with older homes include Zero Energy, Deep Energy Retrofits, as well as the first Certified Passive House Renovation in the U.S. under the “Enerphit” program.
Matt Risinger Hosts a Panel Discussion on Windows, Doors, and Decks
Three expert contractors were invited to participate in the talk and share their experiences and tips.
Ask the Experts Webinar with Matt Risinger and Paul Evans
Watch our experts answer all of your building science and business questions!
How to Approach Historic Renovations
Matt Risinger hosted this Build Show live event panel discussion with expert builders to discuss historic restoration experiences.

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