The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

How to Insulate a Wood Foundation

Posted on December 11, 2017 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Jeepasaurus, a GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com reader from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, recently bought a log house sitting atop a permanent wood foundation (PWF). Although initially reluctant to buy the house because of this detail, Jeep did enough research to convince him there's nothing inherently wrong with a wood foundation. The problem is how to insulate it.

Sill Pans for Exterior Doors

Posted on December 8, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Most residential builders understand that window rough openings need sill pan flashing — either a site-built sill pan made with peel-and-stick tape, or a commercial sill pan made from metal or plastic. Window manufacturers’ installation instructions began requiring sill pans about 20 years ago, and by now these details are standard at most residential construction sites.

For some reason, though, many builders are neglecting to install sill pans under exterior doors. It's time for a gentle reminder: If you skip the sill pan under an exterior door, you are risking a very expensive callback.

Solar Power Alone Won’t Solve Energy or Climate Needs

Posted on December 7, 2017 by Jatin Nathwani in Guest Blogs

Recent reports that solar capacity will soon exceed nuclear capacity reveal an important fact. It also hides a crucial distinction needed to understand the context of energy production, and the use and consequences of choices among supply options for the future.

How Does a Heat Pump Get Heat From Cold Air?

Posted on December 6, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Cold weather is coming back to Atlanta this week, so let’s talk about heat. An increasingly popular way to heat buildings these days is with heat pumps, even in cold climates. But how do they work?

Urban Rustic: Air Sealing the Attic Floor

Posted on December 5, 2017 by Eric Whetzel in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: This post is one of a series by Eric Whetzel about the design and construction of his house in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The first blog in his series was called An Introduction to a New Passive House Project; a list of Eric's previous posts appears below. For more details, see Eric's blog, Kimchi & Kraut.

Why Solar Microgrids Are Not a Cure-All for Puerto Rico’s Power Woes

Posted on December 4, 2017 by Anonymous in Guest Blogs

By PETER FOX-PENNER

In addition to its many other devastating human consequences, Hurricane Maria left the island of Puerto Rico with its power grid in ruins. Power was knocked out throughout the island, with an estimated 80% of its transmission and distribution wires incapacitated. When hospitals and other critical users could not get backup power and water supplies ran low, an extended outage became a humanitarian crisis that has yet to be resolved.

Lumber from a Bandsaw Mill

Posted on December 1, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Let’s say that you own a piece of land and you want to build a house. If you live in a forested region, the first step is to cut down enough trees to create the needed open space for your foundation, lawn, and driveway.

As you’re cutting down the trees, you may think to yourself, “I’m going to need to buy lumber to build my house. I wonder if these logs can be milled into 2x6s and 2x10s.” The answer is: they probably can.

Extending the Reach of a Moisture Meter

Posted on November 30, 2017 by Peter Yost in Building Science

Typical pins on moisture meters are ½ inch long, meaning you can only determine moisture content by weight near the surface of building assemblies and materials (including wood, gypsum wallboard, and concrete). But I often find myself needing to assess moisture content of first condensing surfaces in walls and ceilings or well below the surface of basement slabs.

This article looks at ways to extend the reach of a moisture meter. (For introductory information on moisture meters, see Tools of the Trade: Moisture Meters.)

Two Rules for Humidity

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Because I've written so much about moisture in buildings, I get a lot of questions on the topic. Some are about walls. Some are about the attic. Some are about windows. Some are about the crawl space (which generates the most questions on this topic).

The key to answering a lot of those questions boils down to an understanding of how water vapor interacts with materials. Once you know that, it's easy to see the two rules for preventing damage from humidity.

Flatrock Passive: Installing Windows and Doors

Posted on November 28, 2017 by David Goodyear in Guest Blogs

Editor's Note: This is one of a series of blogs by David Goodyear describing the construction of his new home in Flatrock, Newfoundland, the first in the province built to the Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. standard. The first installment of the GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com blog series was titled An Introduction to the Flatrock Passive House. For a list of Goodyear's earlier blogs on this site, see the "Related Articles" sidebar below; you'll find his complete blog here.

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