Last week, the VAEEC staff and Board headed over to Christiansburg for a Board meeting hosted by Community Housing Partners. While there, we were fortunate enough to be given a tour of their award-winning CHP Energy Solutions Research and Training Center. The 12,600 sq. ft. Training Center “brings building science training into the twenty-first century”. Labs are equipped with custom-designed props that give students controlled, hands-on experience.
Our tour began with a viewing of A Tale of Weatherization at Grandma’s House, a video depicting how heat, air, and moisture work together to impact your home’s overall comfort and performance. Next, Anthony Cox walked us through a simulation of “Grandma’s House”. Using a model, we learned about Stack Effect by watching it take place. As we watched air enter the crawlspace, we saw it work its way up the house, pressurizing the upper floors. Since hot air rises, the heat and moisture in the crawlspace are forced upwards, increasing the humidity throughout the entire “house”. By simply “sealing” the attic space, we observed a reduction in the amount of air entering the crawlspace. The “house” reached optimal performance when both the attic and crawlspace were “sealed” and an Energy Recovery Ventilation system was replicated. It was fun to observe the impact of weatherization practices right before our eyes!
Next, Mark Jackson lead VAEEC staff and Board on a quick tour of the rest of the facility. This included the House of Pressure, the Heating and Air Conditioning Lab, the Diagnostic House, and multiple props.
- The House of Pressure is a nationally recognized prop developed by CHP’s Anthony Cox that visually demonstrates home performance testing through pressure diagnostics. Since it’s creation in 2002, training centers and community and technology colleges in 43 states and Canada have purchased it. The House of Pressure has also been used at conferences and trainings around the Country, such as the Department of Energy’s weatherization conferences.
- The Heating and Air Conditioning Lab allows students the ability to conduct combustion gas testing, draft testing, equipment efficiency, air flow diagnostics, and more.
- The Diagnostic House is set up for students to gain hands-on experience with air sealing, blower door testing, duct leakage, ventilation, and pressure diagnostics.
- Available props located throughout the Training Center include Dense Packing, Large Air Sealing, Gas Furnaces and Domestic Water Heaters, replicas of single family homes, and a manufactured home.
The CHP Energy Solutions’ Research and Training Center provides students with an environment to learn a whole-house approach to building science, weatherization, and other building performance improvements through hands-on training. If you find yourself in Christiansburg, I highly recommend scheduling a tour. If you are interested in any of CHP’s online or in-person training classes for you or your employees, check out their website.
Keep an eye on our social media! We will be sharing some of the videos we took during the tour soon.