The Cocoon Home Performance Philosophy

Cocoon is the high-performance building envelope team at Kinzler Construction. Our Mission is to provide services to homeowners that reduce utility and maintenance costs, increase comfort, create a healthier and safer indoor environment, and improve building durability with minimum impact on our planet. We believe the way to achieve these goals lies in taking a holistic approach to the way we design and construct the building envelope, the part of the building that mediates between indoor and outdoor space. A high performance building envelope provides a healthy and comfortable interior environment, consumes fewer resources, lasts longer, and costs less to maintain.

We use a whole-house systems approach to create a high-performance building envelope. This means we consider the interaction between you, your building site, the climate, and the physical components of your home. We know how altering any one piece of this equation will affect the performance of the entire system. Utilizing a whole house systems approach enables us to propose the most effective, efficient, and affordable solutions for your home.

Our services include home energy audits, insulation retrofitting and air-sealing, window replacement, roofing and siding replacement, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning installations, and radon testing/mitigation.

A butterfly’s cocoon provides comfort and protection from the elements, allowing the life it contains inside to flourish.  In the same way, Cocoon provides services to create a comfortable and healthy environment that is durable, efficient, and consumes fewer resources.  You can trust us with your cocoon.

High Performance.

You may have noticed houses are having more problems recently including moisture, mold, rot and indoor air quality issues. You may also be aware of terms like Low VOC, IAQ, and radon and wondered, “Where did these issues come from?” The reality is that these home performance issues have been here all along. Where did they come from? It all starts with energy costs.

Many of the homes we still live in today are over a century old. When they were built, we wanted more comfortable homes that were easier and cheaper to heat. Some years later, homeowners started adding air conditioning. This began to cost more money as utility costs soared. In order to save money we needed to make changes to the building envelope. By adding more insulation and air barriers to the building, we found this lowered costs and added greater comfort, but created other issues.

The 100 year old home had no indoor air quality issues as it naturally breathed through gaps, cracks, and loose seams. Today’s tighter house is more energy efficient but has IAQ problems such as moisture, mold, volatile organic compound build-up, and soil-born gasses like radon. But by applying technology to our building system we can greatly improve the performance of our homes.

Today we demand more from our technology. We should demand more from our houses. A high performance house is more energy efficient, comfortable, durable, healthier, safer, and has a minimum impact on the environment. We can modify your home to operate at its highest performance for years to come.

We are the envelope experts.

The envelope is not the most glamorous part of your home, nor is it the piece that’s showcased in those glossy shelter magazines on your coffee table.  We believe the building envelope has the potential for the greatest increase in energy efficiency, comfort, health and safety, durability and sustainability.

Conversely, the envelope also holds the greatest potential risk for catastrophic failure.  Poor construction practices, ad-hoc home modifications, and lack of maintenance can lead to envelope problems such as mold, condensation, indoor air pollutants, rot, and infiltration.

So what exactly is the building envelope? Simply put, it is the collection of any part of the house that simultaneously interacts with indoor and outdoor environments. This includes foundation and moisture control systems, roofing, siding, windows, insulation, and heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. For a detailed description of the building envelope, click here.

The building envelope has become increasingly critical as we build more air tight enclosures. Modification to any one component of the envelope could affect the entire system. At Kinzler, we take a holistic approach to understanding the building envelope, to ensure we propose the most efficient solutions for your home.

As our homes have become more complex through the advent of new technologies, it is critical that your energy efficiency upgrades are performed by a professional you can trust.  We understand how the systems of your home work together, and can provide durable, cost-effective solutions for your home.  We also provide you with the tools and education necessary to ensure your home remains high performing for years to come.[/expand]

Whole-house-as-a-system.

Too many cooks spoil the broth, and too many contractors ruin the house.  The building envelope of today is typically delivered by several different specialty trade contractors, each with the potential for errors and omissions at the intersection of each trade.  At Cocoon, our philosophy is that the critical components of the building envelope should be the responsibility of one expert: the envelope contractor.

We understand how the systems of your home interact and behave differently from season to season.  We consider the interaction between you, your building site, the climate, and the physical components of your home. We know how altering any one piece of this equation will affect the performance of the entire system. We want your home to continually operate at its highest performance.  With our specialized tools and training, we can diagnose your building envelope and provide simple solutions to make your home more healthy and sustainable.

Utilizing a whole house systems approach enables us to propose the most effective, efficient, and affordable solutions for your home.

Your home needs a checkup too.

Trust us, this won’t hurt a bit.  We’ve all heard that before, but at Kinzler we mean it.  Our home diagnostics checklist outlines simple scientific tests we can perform in order to accurately diagnose problems with your building envelope.  With our advanced equipment we can test the efficiency of your mechanical system, assess ventilation performance, find areas of air infiltration, and even see through your walls.

Examples of where to insulate. 1. In unfinished attic spaces, insulate between and over the floor joists to seal off living spaces below. If the air distribution is in the attic space, then consider insulating the rafters to move the distribution into the conditioned space. (1A) attic access door 2. In finished attic rooms with or without dormer, insulate (2A) between the studs of "knee" walls, (2B) between the studs and rafters of exterior walls and roof, (2C) and ceilings with cold spaces above. (2D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows. 3. All exterior walls, including (3A) walls between living spaces and unheated garages, shed roofs, or storage areas; (3B) foundation walls above ground level; (3C) foundation walls in heated basements, full wall either interior or exterior. 4. Floors above cold spaces, such as vented crawl spaces and unheated garages. Also insulate (4A) any portion of the floor in a room that is cantilevered beyond the exterior wall below; (4B) slab floors built directly on the ground; (4C) as an alternative to floor insulation, foundation walls of unvented crawl spaces. (4D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows. 5. Band joists. 6. Replacement or storm windows and caulk and seal around all windows and doors. Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Examples of where to insulate. 1. In unfinished attic spaces, insulate between and over the floor joists to seal off living spaces below. If the air distribution is in the attic space, then consider insulating the rafters to move the distribution into the conditioned space. (1A) attic access door 2. In finished attic rooms with or without dormer, insulate (2A) between the studs of “knee” walls, (2B) between the studs and rafters of exterior walls and roof, (2C) and ceilings with cold spaces above. (2D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows. 3. All exterior walls, including (3A) walls between living spaces and unheated garages, shed roofs, or storage areas; (3B) foundation walls above ground level; (3C) foundation walls in heated basements, full wall either interior or exterior. 4. Floors above cold spaces, such as vented crawl spaces and unheated garages. Also insulate (4A) any portion of the floor in a room that is cantilevered beyond the exterior wall below; (4B) slab floors built directly on the ground; (4C) as an alternative to floor insulation, foundation walls of unvented crawl spaces. (4D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows. 5. Band joists. 6. Replacement or storm windows and caulk and seal around all windows and doors. Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory and energy.gov

A Home Performance Assessment by the Cocoon team is the first step towards making your home more energy efficient, healthy, and durable.  It’s our best tool to ensure we find the right solution for you.  Diagnostics allow us to understand your entire envelope before we propose any alterations to your home.  With Cocoon home diagnostics, you are on your way to high performance living.

Diagnostic Services

Cocoon offers a wide variety of home performance diagnostics, tailored to fit your individual needs.  If you notice ice dams, condensation, areas of hot or cold, or if you just want to know the efficiency of your mechanical equipment: call us.  We have a test for that.

  • Full Site Documentation/Visual Analysis – We take basic measurements of your house and photographically document each room, windows/doors, penetrations, and all mechanical equipment.  This gives us a basic understanding of how your building envelope works: the size of your house, type and layout of mechanical systems, and any unique situations to be aware of.
  • Blower Door (CFM50) – Using sophisticated measuring equipment, a laptop, and a fan, we depressurize your house.  The result is a statistical portrait showing the tightness of your envelope.  The blower door lets us quickly understand if you are losing vast amounts of heat through gaps and leaks in walls, roof, and around penetrations.
  • Infrared Documentation During Depressurization – While the blower door test is in progress, we can get specific information on areas of high infiltration and air leakage through infrared documentation.   The infrared photos offer clear, visual proof of attic bypasses, poor air-sealing, window/door leakage, and many other building performance issues.
  • Flue Gas Analysis of Combustion Appliances – Your furnace is rated at 90% efficiency.  But is that it’s actual performance?  We can test your furnace, hot water heater, or any combustion appliance to determine its actual efficiency and then suggest recommended maintenance or upgrades to save money on your energy bills.
  • Duct Blaster Test – Improperly sealed ductwork can negatively affect the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.  This test allows us to see if your ducts are sealed and insulated properly.  Re-sealing and insulating ductwork can be a simple upgrade that will pay for itself in energy savings.
  • Worst-Case Backdraft Assessment – We test your home under “worst-case” conditions (clothes dryer, vent hood, bath exhaust all running) and determine if this would cause a backdraft in your furnace and lead to the release of carbon monoxide or other toxins in your home.
  • Ventilation Equipment Assessment – An improperly installed or maintained exhaust fan will not perform up to its rated power.  This can cause condensation, mold, and indoor air quality issues.  We test your bath fans and kitchen vents to determine if they perform adequately, and then can recommend simple maintenance or replacement if necessary.
  • Exhaust Measurement
  • Blower Door Guided Air Sealing
  • Indoor Air Quality Testing
  • Combustion Safety
  • Zone Diagnostic Pressure Testing
  • HVAC Flow

Blower door and infrared imaging process: 

  • Laundry Room 1

    Above is a photograph of a laundry room taken with a normal visible light camera.

  • Laundry Room 2

    The same laundry room photo was taken with an Infra-Red Camera and shows very slight temperature differences. The spot measurements allow us to get the temperature of any spot on the image. The darker the color is, the cooler the temperature and the lighter the color is, the warmer the temperature. Temperatures in this photo range from 53 degrees to 65 degrees.

  • Laundry Room 3

    Above is an Infrared image with a blower door fan depressurizing the building to show air leaks. The dark streaks show air leaks that need to be sealed.

In Minnesota, we’re all insulation experts.

Or so we think.

With so many different insulation options on the market now, it’s hard to know where to start.  Your insulation and moisture control system is the most critical component of a high efficiency building envelope.  It also presents the greatest opportunity for catastrophic failure.

A well-designed insulation system considers your heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, moisture/vapor control, and air-sealing.  It also requires precise technical installation and detailing.  Many homeowners think insulating is as simple as laying some fiberglass batting in an attic.  But an uninformed DIY’er can actually cause more harm than good, in the form of condensation, air infiltration, mold, and rot.

Cocoon considers your entire home holistically, whenever we propose modifications to your building envelope.  After some simple diagnostic tests, we can determine areas of poor insulation and infiltration, and will propose the most effective, durable, and cost-efficient insulation solution for your home.

Act now to take advantage of tax credits for energy efficiency upgrades!

HVAC.  It doesn’t have to be quite so scary.

Let’s start with the basics:  We are talking about your heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system.  (Those big machines in your basement).  Most of us notice this system only when it’s not working.  But heating and cooling equipment has made great technological advancement in the past years, making HVAC improvements and replacement a worthwhile investment.

Your HVAC system is the component that is responsible for mechanically tempering your space.  It also consumes the most natural resources, which can be directly seen in your monthly energy bill.  With rising energy costs and a wealth of new technologies available, there has never been a better time to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.  Cocoon can examine your existing equipment and determine if it makes sense to upgrade, repair, or perform routine maintenance.

HVAC upgrades can also be eligible for energy efficiency tax credits, Contact Us or visit Energy Star for more information!

HVAC Services

Contact Us for more information about heating, cooling, and ventilation services!

 

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