The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Building Enclosure Commissioning

Posted on February 23, 2017 by Peterbilt in Building Science

I have been advising architects and builders on high-performance design, materials, and construction — particularly for residential buildings — for many years. But to do this work on commercial buildings, a building science training and credentialing program seemed really important (yet elusive).

This past November I bit the bullet and spent three days in class, a half day in exams, and several thousand dollars, and fulfilled the requirements for these two certifications:

  • Building Enclosure CommissioningProcess of testing a home after a construction or renovation project to ensure that all of the home's systems are operating correctly and at maximum efficiency. Process Provider (BECxP)

This Radiative Cooling Material Could Supplant Traditional Air Conditioners

Posted on February 22, 2017 by ab3 in Building Science

When it's hot out, we want cold. At night, we like to be able to turn on the lights. During the daytime, it can be hard to find the darkness.

All these things — hot and cold, day and night, light and dark — can seem like opposites. Chinese philosophy suggests, however, that these opposing forces, known collectively as the yin and the yang, aren't separate. And science has proved it. Let me tell you about the latest yin and yang science and how it could revolutionize air conditioning.

Thermal and Moisture Control Layers

Posted on February 21, 2017 by Mike_Maines in Green Building Blog

Editor's note: This post originally was published as part of the ProHOME series at Fine Homebuilding magazine. Michael Maines is a Certified 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. Consultant and residential designer based in Palermo, Maine.

The Minergy House

Posted on February 20, 2017 by user-4489887 in Guest Blogs

The late 1970s were a vibrant time in solar-driven, energy-efficient housing, full of passion and innovation. The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEANorth East Sustainable Energy Association. A regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA is committed to advancing three core elements: sustainable solutions, proven results and cutting-edge development in the field. States included in this region stretch from Maine to Maryland. www.nesea.org) was founded in 1974, and members were in the thick of this experimentation.

Comparing Carpentry Tools to Surgical Tools

Posted on February 17, 2017 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Two hundred years ago, a ship's carpenter had many duties. In addition to repairing the ship, a carpenter would be called on to perform emergency amputations. Why? He was the one who had the saws.

Modern surgeons still require saws, as well as drills, chisels, scrapers, and grinders. As a lighthearted exercise that has almost nothing to do with green building, I recently got the idea to compare surgical tools with carpentry tools.

Full disclosure: This blog is for fun. It is completely empty of any building science.

Paving the Way for an Efficient Light Bulb in Every Socket

Posted on February 16, 2017 by NoahHorowitz in Guest Blogs

The U.S. Department of Energy has just updated and expanded its definition of what constitutes an everyday light bulb in our homes and businesses, paving the way for the Trump administration to implement the second phase of a bipartisan law signed by President George W. Bush to cut the energy waste of bulbs. Energy efficiency standards were sorely needed because the incandescent light bulb had not been significantly updated since the days of Thomas Edison, more than 125 years earlier.

Buried Ducts Allowed in 2018 Energy Code

Posted on February 15, 2017 by ab3 in Building Science

Water vapor from the air condenses on air conditioning ducts in humid climates. It's as normal as poorly insulated bonus rooms making occupants uncomfortable or cigarettes causing lung cancer. Condensation on ducts is most common in crawl spaces and basements, where the air is more likely to have a higher dew point.

The State of Our Union

Posted on February 14, 2017 by ElizabethDiSalvo in Guest Blogs

I started to write this as a commentary regarding Martin Holladay’s review of Jacob Rascusin’s new book, Essential Building Science. But in doing so I realized that the direction of Martin’s critique opens the door to issues that I think our community really needs to discuss. So, I worked a little harder at putting my thoughts into some sort of logical and comprehensive order. Of course these are only my opinion.

The bottom line of this realization is that, as a group, we may want to consider two goals:

When There Are Too Many Insulation Options

Posted on February 13, 2017 by ScottG in Q&A Spotlight

Colleen A, planning a new house in Michigan's Climate Zone 5, has discovered there's a downside to the wealth of insulation products on the market: It's hard to make a decision.

GBA Prime Sneak Peek: Fine Homebuilding Editors Interview Martin Holladay

Posted on February 10, 2017 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

My fellow editors at Fine Homebuilding — Justin Fink, Rob Yagid, and Brian Pontolilo — have been hosting a weekly podcast for several months. They recently invited me to join them in a sound studio at the Fine Homebuilding office to record a conversation on a variety of building science topics.

This week, I'm taking a break from my usual blog-writing schedule, substituting a two-part podcast recording. Click on one of the green triangles to start listening.

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