Tedd Benson – Bensonwood & Unity Homes Bridging the Gap! The Search for a Better Way to Build & Bob Krell – Healthy Indoors Magazine An Industry Update

Air Date: 4-27-2018|Episode 502

This week on IAQ Radio+ we look forward to a great discussion on better ways to build and an industry update. Tedd Benson of Bensonwood and Unity Homes and Bob Krell of Healthy Indoors Magazine are our guests this week. Tedd Benson the founder of Bensonwood (1973) and Unity Homes (2012), has devoted his life to developing a better way to build. A key figure in the revival of timber framing in America, he was one of the founders of the Timber Framers Guild of North America (1984) and authored four books on the subject. Through the decades, Bensonwood established itself as a creative leader in timber frame design, engineering, craftsmanship, and CAD-CAM technology.

This work has taken the company to nearly every state in the U.S. (Oklahoma is a holdout), as well as Canada, England and Japan. Today, Bensonwood continues that leadership, pioneering the use of Mass Timber and Cross Laminated Timber’s CLT’s in buildings large and small. After having spent many years with the Bensonwood team developing processes, systems, logistics, and technology, Tedd went on to found Unity Homes, now a sister company, with the objective to make high performance homes affordable and normal. Tedd is a nationally known speaker and presenter and is the recipient of many awards, including an honorary doctorate from Unity College, and most recently, The Granite State Award in recognition of his statewide and national influence on best building practices. Tedd will give us a look at his vision of the future and how his company is part of that future right now!
Bob Krell of Healthy Indoor Magazine will also join us to talk about the state of the IAQ, restoration and home performance from his perspective. He is just returning from the Home Performance Conference this week in Philadelphia and he goes to just about every conference relevant to IAQ and Home Performance across the country. We will talk to Bob about where we are and prognosticate about where we are headed. Bob is also preparing for an ambitious first in the industry when his group will be simulcasting the Maine IAQ and Energy ExpoMay 1-2, 2018 in Portland, Maine.
Z-Man’s Blog:

Celebrating the Material

As a young man working on residential construction sites in Colorado, Tedd Benson grew up unhappy with attitudes on worksites and disappointed in home quality. He moved to the East coast to finish his education which is where his interest timber framing piqued.

Timber framing is the oldest form of wood building. This ancient art of using wood joinery and large section timbers was widely used in construction up until the 1870’s. Many European cathedrals and manor halls that are still standing today were built with timber framing and wooden joinery. Therefore, disappointed in conventionally used methods, and realizing the quality and sustainability of these structures, Tedd idealistically set forth to revive the ancient craft of timber framing.

In his early timber framing days he connected with the Amish in Eastern, PA. where he learned some methodologies. While the Amish work practically and use utilitarian joinery tolerances. Tedd’s businesses build with a more finished “furniture-like quality”. His companies build contemporary homes, barns, educational facilities etc.

To make their products more affordable, Tedd’s homes are made in a factory and shipped to the site for erection. His world class factory is equipped with high precision machinery from Germany, Austria and France. An Austrian machine reliably and effectively applies insulation a (loose cellulose, wood fiber or fiberglass) to assembly cavities. Foam was previously used and discontinued; due to petroleum related cost fluctuations and IAQ concerns. While effective, hemp and wool insulation is pricey and niche. includes robots and German/Austrian build machinery.

The workforce of 120 associates is vertically integrated. Architects, designers, draftsmen, structural engineers, building scientists, project managers, woodworkers, a timber frame group, building systems production group (builds floors, walls and roofs) and administration. Prior to assembly, the average size homes fit on 3 trucks. Larger homes may require 5. Due to exacting planning and execution resulting in exactingly close tolerances and predictability in parts mating, costly pre-fitting at the plant is unnecessary, helping the firm remain cost competitive.

Co-opetition:, 2 others firms in the US are factory building high performance homes.

Mass timber trusses for institutional and commercial projects are achievable with Cross Laminated Timbers.

Shipping costs are reasonable. Homes have been built in 49 states (OK the exception). There is worldwide interest with homes built in United Kingdom and Japan. There is a cost premium on long shipping distances, customers desiring an extraordinary quality are willing to pay the freight cost.

Unity Homes is where everything learned is taken. Important mission to bring prices down into the middle and lower markets. Standardization and repetition are the key strategies for this cost reduction.

No fossil fuels. All Unity Homes are Net Zero high performance with thick walls and roofs, triple glazed windows, are all electric with air source heat pumps.

The primary market for Unity Homes is within a 400 mile range of the factory. The goal is to build factories in other states to deliver homes regionally.

Customers seldom ask for green certifications. LEED Certification is not tied to value (CA as the exception). Clients don’t want to pay for the administrative costs to obtain green certifications.

Originating in Germany, Passive Home is the highest energy standard in the world. These homes are so well insulated (R-62 roof and R-51walls) and energy efficient that they don’t require a heat source. (Many do have a backup heat source, just in case.) Tedd is a fan of Passive Homes.

The use of robotics in factory home building will continue to grow. Using a special robot with 6 axis and 14 different tools for timber construction that is capable of carving a head on the end of a timber. Use of 3D printing will grow in the future for shaping certain building components.

IAQ is the great outcome of High Performance building. While energy efficiency does matter, customers want fewer pollutants and cleaner indoor air.

For more information:  https://unityhomes.com/

Bob Krell

At the Healthy Building Conference the theme was Healthy Buildings. 1400 energy and home performance folks attended.

BPI has introduced Healthy Home Evaluator program as a driver to meld the IAQ and building performance fields. Looking at building practically, energy performance, and sustainability.

Susan Valenti’s interview of Greg Long at the NADCA convention. As the driving force for practitioners, NADCA had a profound effect on the evolution of the IAQ world by interfacing with regulatory and academia. 300-350 people attend NADCA’s upscale annual event. Technical advancement with the same mindset.

It’s Time to Make Progress On Healthier Buildings, Environments | Bob …


6 days ago – After discussing politics in last month’s editorial, it was a shear moment of kismet when Healthy Indoors saw that Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland and 2016 Democratic candidate for president, was about to hit the stage at the New York State Green Building Conference, in Syracuse, NY.

Known for high level IAQ and Energy 2018, Portland, Maine will feature 38 presentations. The group has teamed up with Bob Krell and his technical team. 2 of the 4 educational tracks will be live streamed. All 4 tracks will be recorded. A 20% discount is available to IAQradio listeners.

For more info: IAQradioEnergy.com  https://healthyindoors.com/tag/bob-krell/

Z-Man signing off

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