Four Ridiculous Contradictions in Building Science with Michael Ermann

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The Amber Book | Michael Ermann 

Michael Ermann is a returning guest to the Young Architect podcast. In today’s episode, he talks about some of the most interesting counterintuitive findings in building science.  

Michael begins by talking about whether or not students do better in classrooms that are quieter. He describes the different types of air conditioning systems that might be found in classrooms and explains how they studied whether students did better in classrooms with less air conditioner noise. He goes on to explain why acoustical ceiling tiles don’t actually make a room quieter.  

Michael also talks about the real function of vapor barriers, which isn’t necessarily to keep vapor out. He explains why they’re now called vapor control layers instead of barriers.   

Later in the discussion, Michael explains why a room with more light may actually seem darker than a room with less light, and why large buildings may have more in common with each other – even when they’re far apart and in different climate zones – than with small buildings located nearby. He also talks about his project The Amber Book, which helps architecture students prepare for their exams. Listen in to hear more about Michael’s work and counterintuitive building science findings.   

What You’ll Hear on This Episode   

  • Whether students do better in quieter classrooms 
  • What the air conditioning system in a school has to do with classroom noise level 
  • Different measurements of acoustics 
  • Why acoustical ceiling tiles don’t make the room quieter 
  • Sound isolation 
  • Noise control 
  • Electronic reinforcement 
  • What vapor barriers are really for 
  • Why rooms with more lights aren’t necessarily brighter 
  • Why “big” is the fifth climate zone 
  • Michael’s favorite topics to teach and talk about 
  • Michael’s animation process 
  • The Amber Book 

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode 

  1. Building science can surprise you
  2. It’s easy to learn when you’re curious 
  3. Take care of content first and the rest will follow 

Resources Mentioned in the Show: 

The Amber Book 


Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, and the creator of Young Architect, an online platform and community dedicated to helping the next generation of Architects become the most successful generation of Architects. 
Connect: Linkedin / Facebook / Instagram

Hi there!

I’m Michael Riscica, the guy behind Young Architect. I write to help Architecture Students, ARE Candidates and Young Architecture Professionals be more successful at school, work and life!


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