The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

A Forgotten Tool to Solve the Housing Crisis

Posted on April 25, 2017 by David Goldstein in Guest Blogs

“The California housing crisis is even worse than we thought… California is the hardest state in the nation for people to buy their first home.

"Since first-time home buyers are overwhelmingly younger people, the long-term results will have an enormous impact on the economic prospects of the next generation …”

Air Sealing and Insulation in the ProHOME

Posted on April 24, 2017 by Mike Guertin in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: This post originally was published as part of the ProHOME series at Fine Homebuilding magazine. Mike Guertin, an editorial adviser at the magazine, is building the house in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

The Exterior Rigid Foam is Too Thin!

Posted on April 21, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Let’s say you’ve owned your house for several years. Your growing interest in energy efficiency brought you to the GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com web site. GBA taught you that it’s a great idea to install rigid foam on the exterior side of your wall 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. , as long as (a) the rigid foam is thick enough to keep your sheathing above the dew point during the winter, and (b) your walls don’t have any interior polyethylene.

Energy Star Delivers Big for America: Why Put It at Risk?

Posted on April 20, 2017 by Noah Horowitz in Guest Blogs

Imagine owning a brand that’s both well-known and widely trusted by consumers and businesses all over America. Now imagine that it turns a $50 million annual investment into $30+ billion worth of annual customer utility bill savings, and has resulted in branded sales of more than 5 billion products since its inception. That’s one heck of a rate of return and a brand that any CEO would die for.

The Hidden Flaw in Some High-Efficiency Furnaces

Posted on April 19, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

You can tell how energy-efficient a furnace is by its official efficiency rating, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency(AFUE) Widely-used measure of the fuel efficiency of a heating system that accounts for start-up, cool-down, and other operating losses that occur during real-life operation. AFUE is always lower than combustion efficiency. Furnaces sold in the United States must have a minimum AFUE of 78%. High ratings indicate more efficient equipment. (AFUEAnnual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Widely-used measure of the fuel efficiency of a heating system that accounts for start-up, cool-down, and other operating losses that occur during real-life operation. AFUE is always lower than combustion efficiency. Furnaces sold in the United States must have a minimum AFUE of 78%. High ratings indicate more efficient equipment. ). It's a measure of how much of the heat originally in the fuel that's being burned is available for delivery to the home. The more heat that gets lost up the flue or through the cabinet, the lower the AFUE.

But that rating doesn't capture all the ways a furnace can lose efficiency. Some, like how well the heat gets distributed to the house, aren't related to the furnace itself. But there's one big one that is related to the furnace.

Urban Rustic: An Introduction to a New Passive House Project

Posted on April 18, 2017 by Eric Whetzel in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of posts by Eric Whetzel about the design and construction of his house in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Eric's blog is called Kimchi & Kraut.

Roof Assembly for a Getaway Cottage

Posted on April 17, 2017 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Plans are taking shape for Quinn Sievewright's holdiay home: a small retreat with a shed roof that will be built in Climate Zone 4 near Vancouver, Canada. During the winter, the building won't be occupied full-time, but enough so that Sievewright has included several layers or rigid foam insulation in the design for his low-pitch roof. (The drawing at right shows how he's proposed to build it.)

Does a Passive House Use 90 Percent Less Energy?

Posted on April 14, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Longtime readers of GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com know that I get frustrated by exaggerated energy savings claims. A glaring example is the statement that “a 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. building uses 90% less energy than a conventional building.” A variation on this claim: “A Passive House building uses 90% less energy than a code-minimum building.”

Trump Budget Threatens to Leave Poor Families in the Cold

Posted on April 13, 2017 by Anonymous in Guest Blogs

By KHALIL SHAHYD

When her furnace started acting up, Alicia Dickenson knew her family had a problem. “I’m not going to have money for a new furnace,” the Ohio resident told her local paper. “How am I going to make it through the next winter?” When Dickenson found out that she qualified for home weatherization — including an upgraded, more efficient furnace — her relief was immense. “Huge,” she said.

Five Ways to Do Balanced Ventilation

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Ventilation is a great thing. Bringing outdoor air into the home and exhausting stale indoor air improves indoor air quality. Well, most of the time, anyway. Sometimes the outdoor air quality is worse than indoor air. Sometimes you bring in too much humidity and start growing mold. And sometimes you bring in the wrong outdoor air. But the issue of outdoor air vs. indoor air is a topic for another article.

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