Earlier this month we took on a very interesting project, and I think some more people might have something like this they are planning to do.  Imagine trying to build a conservatory with a clear roof.  Now you want to know if your project will pass REScheck.  At REScheck.info we recently were given the opportunity to do just that.  So while you gaze up at the stars and think about how a conservatory might pass your state’s REScheck requirements, allow us to give you some pointers on the energy efficient design that we encountered last week on a custom conservatory’s REScheck report.

The phone rang mid afternoon and a gentleman wanted to know if we handled conservatories.  Yes, we do.  We can REScheck just about anything.  In the event that the structure does not pass, we will give you your money back.  We even RESchecked a dog one time.  The fur on it’s back provided a great R-value, but can you guess the reason why the REScheck failed?  It’s roof, roof.  Seriously though, that brings us to what type of roof system you need to use on a conservatory to be able to see the stars at night.  What is needed is a material with a high R-value that is also see through.  The solution to this conundrum?  Polycarbonate panels.  This see through material in a thick enough width can provide the insulation capabilities needed to meet many modern codes.  Including the conservatory we reschecked last week.  However, as most people know the REScheck energy report is about much more than the roof, so we want to discuss the other components that helped make this building envelope right for it’s local code, climate zone, and building department.

When you are using a clear roof and polycarbonate panels, then using a very efficient window will also help your REScheck score.  The windows we used on this home came from Europe.  Have you ever converted a European U-Value over to the American equivalent?  I hope you brought a calculator and your thinking cap.  The windows used in this structure were just as spectacular as the entire project itself.  The thought and detail that went into each component of this plan was unlike anything I had seen.

The next area that you need to consider when building a conservatory and helping pass your REScheck, is your door package.  You want to choose insulated doors that help to compensate what you might be losing in other areas.  The doors on this structure were being shipped in from Europe as well.  By the time we made it to the door calculations I had already created a spreadsheet called REScheck European U-Value to American R-Value calculator.  If you ever were in a pinch, and needed to use my spreadsheet I might just share it with you free of charge.

Another item that was insulated well on this conservatory was the knee walls.  No expense was spared on the insulation per inch of wall unit.  They used a fiberglass batt insulation for the wall component of their REScheck energy report and it fit nicely.  The allowance the REScheck report gave was more than enough to make this wall system suitable for the climate zone where it was being built.

Finally, the one area that needed to be sealed well was the subfloor that the conservatory was being built on.  No one wants to sit out and gaze at the stars with cold feet.  Again the designer chose to use a batt insulation that fully sealed the building envelope and allowed the homeowner to have a clear roof.  Sometimes fiberglass insulation can get a bad name, but when used in the right thickness, it can be a great solution.  It is also one of the most cost effective and popular insulation options we see in our REScheck reports across the board.

At REScheck.info we like the challenge of all types of new construction projects.  Even when we have a project that fails, we and have to give it away for free, we still learn something from it.  One of our favorite parts of the process is helping people see how they can improve their insulation values, and the long term energy costs of their home.  If you have a new construction project or an unconventional structure that you would like to challenge us on a REScheck energy report, just send it our way [email protected]  We like to see innovative projects and this conservatory was truly that.

Are you building a conservatory and got Uranus in a pinch with a failing REScheck?  What type of materials did you use to help get your REScheck to pass?  Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Plus, Tumblr, Blogger, or Houzz.

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