Joseph Lstiburek

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Joseph Lstiburek
Joeseph Lstiburek
Born May 3, 1955
Citizenship Canadian
Education University of Toronto
Children Andrew Joseph Cronin, Christine Cronin
Engineering career
Engineering discipline Building science
Employer(s) Building Science Corporation

Joseph Lstiburek /ˈstbrɪk/, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., Ph.D., P.Eng., is a forensic engineer who investigates building failures. His authority on moisture-related building problems and indoor air quality is internationally recognized.[1] His work as a consultant, author, and speaker has influenced building codes and standards in every climate zone.[2]

EcoHome magazine called him the "father of building science," and Fast Company magazine referred to him as "the Sherlock Holmes of construction".[3] The Wall Street Journal states he is widely recognized as "the dean of North American building science."[4]


Lstiburek received a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) in Mechanical Engineering with a thesis entitled Prediction of Long Term Performance Characteristics of Domestic Solar Space and Water Heating Systems; a Masters of Engineering (M.Eng) degree in Civil Engineering with a thesis entitled Air Drywall Approach; and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Building Science with a thesis entitled Toward an Understanding and Prediction of Air Flow in Buildings. His degrees were all received from the University of Toronto.

Early career[edit]

While working towards his bachelor degree, Lstiburek also worked as a residential construction manager for Product Design Development Corporation. After graduating he became president of Inertia Development Corporation, a company that built and tested twenty low-energy houses.

He went on to work for the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada (HUDAC) from 1981-1982 where he was involved in the Canada-wide Super Energy Efficient Housing R-2000 program and became the Director of Research.

While studying for his Masters degree, he worked at the University of Toronto Centre for Building Science and later served as president of Building Engineering Corporation, a building sciences and components company in the residential construction industry. He also briefly worked in the commercial construction industry as a senior engineer for Trow in Toronto.

After receiving his Masters degree, Lstiburek worked in the United States as a consultant with Dames & Moore, a Chicago-based engineering consulting firm specializing in building sciences and construction technology.

In 1990 Lstiburek became a principal at Building Science Corporation.

Later Career and Industry Contributions[edit]

Lstiburek is currently a principal of Sommerville, Massachusetts-based Building Science Corporation. In his work, Lstiburek consults with homebuilders on problems and new building technologies. He has conducted numerous forensic investigations and often serves as an expert witness on cases involving building failures.

In the 1990s, Pulte homes was looking to reduce a home's utility cost by 30% without increasing the cost to build it, or altering the size, shape and aesthetics of their tract homes, so they consulted with Lstiburek who recommended five changes that became Pulte's Five-Step Energy System. The prototype home built to Lstiburek's suggested specifications was the first home ever to receive a Five Star rating from Nevada's home energy rating program.[5]

In 2005 as Hurricane Katrina was damaging the area around New Orleans, Lstiburek predicted in an interview that "The buildings in the older part of New Orleans that were built elevated, using water-tolerant materials like masonry and cement plaster, and with no cavity insulation, will be relatively less damaged and will be able to be cleaned up and put back into service. But houses that are flooded that were built more recently using wood frames, gypsum wallboard, and fiber cavity insulation are going to be much worse damaged, and many of them will never be usable again." His predictions were prophetic and he recommends that new construction houses in areas of potential flood hazards be built with modern materials that are as drainable, dryable and water-tolerant as the traditional materials used in the buildings that survived Katrina.[6]

In the 2007, design and construction failures in the unique Ray and Maria Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology prompted the school to file a lawsuit against the architect, the world-renowned Frank Gehry, and the construction firms, Beacon Skanska Construction and NER Construction Management. When Fast Company magazine interviewed Lstiburek about the high-profile Stata Center lawsuit as an "independent, unpaid, informal observer," referring to him as "the Sherlock Holmes of construction," he stated that he "knew it wasn't going to work from watching it go up"[3] He points out that the issues, manifesting themselves as mold, leaks, bad smells, and efflorescence, are "fundamental errors of craft, not design:" problems created by specifications, implementation, and quality control - an industry-wide problem for an estimated 20% of all new buildings going up.[3] After a tour of the building with Lstiburek, the author of the article estimates repairing the Stata Center will cost tens of millions of dollars.

Lstiburek has been involved in the development of standards and industry resources by U.S. government agencies. He is the principal investigator for the Building Science Consortium,[1] an industry group in the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America Program that encourages the development of energy efficient innovations in the homebuilding industry. On behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), he participated in a 40-city seminar tour of the United States.[1] Additionally, Lstiburek authored the U.S. Department of Energy handbook on moisture control and was a special contributor to the Environmental Protection Agency's "Building Air Quality: A Guide for Building Owners and Facility Managers."

Lstiburek is a regular speaker and presenter at industry events. He appeared on the PBS Nova program entitled "Can Buildings Make You Sick?" featuring his work on the Registry Building in Boston, MA. Additionally, Lstiburek writes regularly for industry publications and has published a number of books.

In 2008, Lstiburek sparked debate with an article written for ASHRAE where he raised doubts about the claims of efficiency in LEED certified commercial buildings.[7] LEED Certification is a recognized standard in the US and other countries for measuring building sustainability. It is obtained via a third-party commission granting credits to a building in five design categories as outlined by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization.[8] Lstiburek, along with fellow building scientist Henry Gifford and others, challenged the statistics on LEED buildings and comparisons used in a 2007 (and updated 2008) New Buildings Institute report urging the industry to "focus on true energy savings rather than "chasing "points" for superfluous "green" motives that have nothing whatsoever to do with saving energy once in place."[8]


In 2009, Lstiburek was nominated for the first annual Hanley Award[2] for vision and leadership in sustainable housing. The award, given by the Washington, DC-based Hanley Foundation, honors an individual in the residential construction industry who has demonstrated extraordinary, lasting and far reaching contributions to the advancement of sustainable housing in the United States.

In 2007, the Energy & Environmental Building Association (EEBA) awarded Lstiburek a Legacy Award for significant contributions made to the promotion and development of building performance as it relates to the science of new home construction.[9]

In 2004, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) inducted him into the College of Fellows[10] for distinguished and committed service to the industry.

In 2000/2001 Lstiburek was awarded an Anthony A. Woods Award, better known as a Beckie[11] by the Ontario Building Envelope Council (OBEC) - a career award in recognition of individuals who have made a significant contribution to the design, construction and performance of the building envelope.

In 1994, the Energy & Environmental Building Association (EEBA) awarded Lstiburek a Design Award for his joint design effort with architect Betsy Pettit in creating a twelve-house development project in Dallas, TX named Esperanza del Sol that featured affordable three-bedroom 1,270 sq. ft. heavily-insulated housing that maximize solar gain, natural light and shade, and proper ventilation.[12]

In 1992, the Energy & Environmental Building Association (EEBA) awarded Lstiburek an Award for Technical Merit.

Professional Certifications & Memberships[edit]


  • The ASHRAE Guide for Buildings in Hot & Humid Climates. Lew Harriman III and Joseph Lstiburek. 2009. ASHRAE. ISBN 978-1-933742-43-4
  • Builder's Guide to Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) for all Climates. Joseph Lstiburek. 2008. Building Science Press. ISBN 978-0-9755127-8-4
  • Water Management Guide. Joseph W. Lstiburek. January 2006. Building Science Press. ISBN 0-9755127-5-7
  • Builder's Guide to Hot-Humid Climates. Joseph Lstiburek. 2005. Building Science Press. ISBN 0-9755127-3-0
  • Builder's Guide to Mixed-Humid Climates. Joseph Lstiburek. January 1, 2005. Delmar Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-9755127-2-2
  • Builder's Guide to Hot-Dry & Mixed-Dry Climates. Joseph Lstiburek. 2004. Building Science Press. ISBN 0-9755127-0-6
  • Builder's Guide to Cold Climates. Joseph Lstiburek. 2004. Building Science Press. ISBN 0-9755127-1-4
  • Builder's Guide to Mixed Climates: Details for Design and Construction Joseph W. Lstiburek. February 2001. Taunton Press. ISBN 1-56158-388-X
  • Read This Before You Move In: Healthy and Affordable Housing: Practical Recommendations for Building, Renovating and Maintaining Housing 2001. Asthma Regional Coordinating Council of New England. PDF Version
  • Builder's Guide to Cold Climates: Details for Design and Construction. Joseph Lstiburek. February 3, 2000 Taunton Press. ISBN 1-56158-374-X
  • Spray polyurethane foam in external envelopes of buildings. Mark Bomberg and Joseph W. Lstiburek. 1998. CRC Press. ISBN 1-56676-707-5
  • Moisture Control Handbook: Principles and Practices for Residential and Small Commercial Buildings. Joseph Lstiburek and John Carmody. January 1, 1996. Wiley. ISBN 0-471-31863-9
  • Builder's Field Guide. Joseph W. Lstiburek, John Manuel, Arnie Katz. 1994. NC Alternate Energy Corporation.
  • Moisture Control for New Residential Buildings. Joseph Lstiburek and John Carmody. Chapter 17 in Moisture Control in Buildings Heinz R. Trechsel, ed. 1994. American Society for Testing and Materials. ISBN 0-8031-2051-6
  • A new approach to affordable low energy house construction. Joseph Lstiburek. 1994. Atlanta Department of Housing. ISBN 0-88654-074-7
  • Building Air Quality: A Guide for Building Owners and Facility Managers (SuDoc EP 4.8:Ai 7/7). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Technical advisors: Lstiburek, Turner, Brennan, and Light). 1991. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air and Radiation, Office of Atmospheric and Indoor Air Programs, Indoor Air Division U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
  • The Airtight House: using the airtight drywall approach: a construction manual. James K. Lischkoff, Joseph Lstiburek. 1991. Iowa State University Research Foundation.

Published Articles[edit]

In addition to the recent feature articles listed below, Lstiburek has been a regular columnist for the Building Sciences column of the ASHRAE Journal and has authored a number of white papers, guides, and research reports.[13]

  • Mold Explosion: Why Now? Fine Homebuilding December 2006/Jan 2007 [14]
  • The Future of Framing is Here: Smarter strategies can save money, speed construction, improve energy efficiency, and cut down on job-site waste Fine Homebuilding October/November 2005 [15]
  • Lessons from Florida's Hurricanes: Why Stucco Walls Got Wet. Jose Lstiburek. Journal of Light Construction. July 2005 [16]
  • Built Wrong from the Start: Top 10 blunders that rot your house, waste your money, and make you sick. Fine Homebuilding April/May 2004 [17]
  • Water-Managed Wall Systems. Journal of Light Construction March 2003[18]
  • Residential Ventilation and Latent Loads. Joseph Lstiburek. ASHRAE Journal April 2002, pages 18–21[19]
  • Moisture, Building Enclosures, and Mold: How water gets into a structure, why it doesn't leave, and how these architectural flaws become HVAC headaches. HPAC Engineering December 2001/January 2002 [20]


  1. ^ a b c "Joseph Lstiburek, Ph.D, P.Eng.-Principal, Building Sciences Corp." (pdf). Environments for Living. Retrieved 24 Aug 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Meet the Nominees". 2009 Hanley Award for Vision and Leadership in Sustainable Housing. EcoHome. Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Kamenetz, Anya (February 2008). "Lost in the Funhouse". Fast Company (New York, NY: Mansueto Ventures LLC) (122). ISSN 1085-9241. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Crossen, Cynthia; Cynthia Crossen (9 May 2001). "The Big Power Crunch -- Hot Selling Point: Guaranteeded Cost Of Utility Bills". Wall Street Journal (New York, NY: Dow Jones & Company, Inc.). pp. J/B1. 
  5. ^ Sprenger, Polly. "5 Steps to Tract Home Success". Home Energy Magazine (Berkeley, CA: Energy Auditor & Retrofitter, Inc.) (March/April 1998). Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  6. ^ Cushman, Ted. "Low Country Rx: Wet Floodproofing: Drainable, dryable assemblies made with water-tolerant materials help speed recovery from deeper-than-expected floods". Coastal Contractor (Washington, DC: Hanley Wood Business Media) (July 2006). ISSN 1932-4235. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  7. ^ "LEED Certified Commercial Buildings: Are They Really More Efficient??". 2008. Retrieved 16 Aug 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "LEED Certification Information". NRDC Building Green. National Resources Defense Council. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "National Organization Recognizes Building Performance" (Press release). Energy & Environmental Building Association /Bigelow Homes. 17 October 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  10. ^ "ASHRAE College Of Fellows Membership Roster". American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. ASHRAE. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  11. ^ "Anthony A. Woods Award (The Beckie)". Ontario Building Envelope Council (OBEC) website. Ontario Building Envelope Council (OBEC). Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  12. ^ Horrigan, Alice (July–August 1997). "Affordable by Design: Building an Eco-House on a Tight Budget is No Longer an Impossible Dream (cover story)". E - The Environmental Magazine (Norwalk, CT: E - The Environmental Magazine) VIII (4). ISSN 1046-8021. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  13. ^ "Building Science Information". Works authored by J. Lstiburek. Building Science Press. Retrieved 12 Aug 2010. 
  14. ^ Lstiburek, Joseph (December 2006 – January 2007). "The Mold Explosion: Why Now?". Fine Homebuilding (Taunton Press) (184): 70–75. ISSN 1096-360X. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Lstiburek, Joseph (October–November 2005). "The Future of Framing Is Here". Fine Homebuilding (Taunton Press) (174): 50–55. ISSN 1096-360X. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  16. ^ Lstiburek, Joseph (July 2005). "Lessons from Florida's Hurricanes: Why Stucco Walls Got Wet". Journal of Light Construction (Hanley-Wood): 10 pages. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  17. ^ Lstiburek, Joseph (April–May 2004). "Built Wrong from the Start: Top 10 blunders that rot your house, waste your money, and make you sick". Fine Homebuilding (Taunton Press) (162): 52–57. ISSN 1096-360X. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  18. ^ Lstiburek, Joseph (March 2003). "Water-Managed Wall Systems". Journal of Light Construction (Hanley-Wood): 9 pages. ISSN 1056-828X. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  19. ^ Lstiburek, Joseph (April 2002). "Residential Ventilation and Latent Loads". ASHRAE Journal (ASHRAE) (April 2002): 18–21. ISSN 0001-2491. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  20. ^ Lstiburek, Joseph (December 2001 – January 2002). "Moisture, Building Enclosures, and Mold: How water gets into a structure, why it doesn't leave, and how these architectural flaws become HVAC headaches.". HPAC Engineering (Penton Media) (December 2001 (Part I) / January 2002 (Part II)): 22–26 (Part I) / 77–81 (Part II). ISSN 1527-4055. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 

External links[edit]