The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Rules of Thumb for Ductless Minisplits

Posted on January 30, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Since 2008, when Carter Scott built a pioneering Massachusetts house that was heated and cooled by just two ductless minisplits, GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com has endeavored to publish reports from the field to guide people designing homes that are heated and cooled by ductless minisplits. We’ve learned a lot on this topic since 2008.

A Higher Standard

Posted on January 29, 2015 by Jesse Thompson in Green Building Blog

For a number of years, Rob and Fiona were content to live in a simple Maine cottage a stone’s throw from the water’s edge. In recent years, however, they had tried having a new house designed to accommodate their changing needs, but quickly got mired in results that were much larger and more expensive than what they wanted. After tiring of these unsuccessful ventures, they came to my firm seeking a compact, modern, extremely energy-efficient home that would blend into the tightly woven neighborhood where they planned to root themselves for the years to come.

Heat-Pump Clothes Dryers

Posted on January 29, 2015 by Joe Rice in Guest Blogs

Whirlpool announced it back in July; I was able to order it in October; and it wasn't delivered until January 21st — but I now own a real live, made for the U.S. market, heat-pump clothes dryer. It's officially the Whirlpool HybridCare Duet Dryer with Heat Pump Technology.

GBA 2.0

Posted on January 28, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

Six years ago we launched GreenBuildingAdvisor.com with one goal: to be the most trustworthy source of information for anyone designing, building, or remodeling energy-efficient, sustainable, and healthy homes. At the heart of GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com 1.0 were downloadable construction details, case studies of high-performance homes, a strategy generator, and the Green Spec product guide. Over the years we've added thousands of articles — some written by me, and others by Allison Bailes, Carl Seville, and some of the country's top experts in the fields of construction, architecture, and building science.

A Plethora of Building Science Conferences

Posted on January 27, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I love going to conferences. Since I changed my career in 2004, I've gone to building science, green building, and home performance conferences nearly every year. (I think I missed 2006, but I had a lot going on then.) Last year I went to eleven of them, but then I'm a bit unusual.

You certainly don't have to go to that many, but if you're a home builder, home performance contractor, or home energy pro, I do recommend going to one conference a year so you can keep up with the latest trends, talk to your peers, and maybe add some arrows to your quiver.

Zip Sheathing Tips

Posted on January 26, 2015 by Matt Risinger in Guest Blogs

This past year I had the opportunity to build a SIP(SIP) Building panel usually made of oriented strand board (OSB) skins surrounding a core of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam insulation. SIPs can be erected very quickly with a crane to create an energy-efficient, sturdy home. and timber-frame house designed by architects Aamodt & Plumb and built in conjunction with Bensonwood Homes, the famous timber-frame company in New Hampshire. (Side note: I first heard of Bensonwood while watching This Old House in high school. It’s a dream come true to build a house with their timber/SIP package.)

Bensonwood has been using Zip System sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. in their SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) for a few years now, and has really liked them for several reasons.

Simple Methods for Measuring Air Flow

Posted on January 23, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

To commission a ventilation system or a forced-air heating system, or to troubleshoot problems with these systems, it’s essential to be able to measure the rate of air flow through registers and grilles. Most home performance contractors measure air flow with a flow hood. Flow hoods vary in accuracy, but they all share one attribute: they are expensive (generally $1,600 to $3,200).

If you want to measure air flow, but you can’t afford a flow hood, you may be interested in using one of the inexpensive approaches to air flow measurement described in this article.

Fiberglass Insulation Manufacturer Tackles Installation Quality

Posted on January 21, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

One of the major fiberglass insulation manufacturers (the color in the lead photo gives away which one I'm talking about) is getting serious about the installation quality of fiberglass batt insulationInsulation, usually of fiberglass or mineral wool and often faced with paper, typically installed between studs in walls and between joists in ceiling cavities. Correct installation is crucial to performance. . They've put out a video (embedded below) and a document showing how to achieve RESNET Grade 1 installation quality with fiberglass batts. Have you seen these things yet?

Designing an HVAC System for a Cold Climate

Posted on January 19, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Randy Bunney is building a new house in a challenging environment — north central Minnesota, where overnight temperatures plunge well below zero and heating-degree days over the last three years have averaged more than 8,600 annually.

The high-performance, passive-solar home will be a relatively small 1,100-square feet with two bedrooms, an open living-kitchen-dining area, 1 1/2 baths, a mudroom and a mechanical room. Bunney is planning on exterior walls insulated to R-40, the roof to R-60, and "near airtight" construction.

What is Comfort?

Posted on January 16, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Buildings have had central heating for only about 140 years, and they have had air conditioning for only about 80 years. For most of human history, people took comfort in winter from a stone fireplace — somewhere to heat up a kettle or warm one’s hands.

Once heating and cooling systems were developed, almost everyone wanted them. Why? Because people want to be comfortable.

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