Energy Solutions

What’s Different About Unity Homes?

Posted on May 2, 2013 by Alex Wilson

In my blog last week, I provided a little background on Tedd Benson and his evolution that ledLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. him to found Unity Homes. This week, I’ll describe some of the features that set Unity Homes apart from both standard home construction and other panelized and manufactured home production.

Unity Homes: Pushing the Boundaries of Home Building

Posted on April 25, 2013 by Alex Wilson

A few weeks ago I spent a half day with my good friend Tedd Benson learning about his new company Unity Homes. This Walpole, New Hampshire company is on the cutting edge of home building today, with its focus on energy performance, building science, green building, and (relative) affordability.

This week I’ll describe some of Tedd’s work that ledLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. to the creation of Unity Homes, and next week I’ll go into more detail about this new company and the state-of-the-art green homes that he and his team are cranking out.

EcoSeal: A New System for Air Sealing Homes

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Alex Wilson

Getting back to our Dummerston, Vermont farmhouse this week, I’m reporting on our use of a relatively new product for air-sealing homes: EcoSeal from Knauf Insulation.

First some context: In the building science world, there is growing interest in achieving a robust air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both. at the 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. layer of a house, with layers inside of that able to dry toward the interior and layers on the outside able to dry to the exterior. To make that work, the sheathing layer has to be tightly air-sealed.

Växjö, Sweden, is a Model of Sustainability

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Alex Wilson

My blog last week about Kansas and efforts to outlaw any mention or promotion of sustainability was so depressing (to write as well read) that I needed to find a more uplifting sequel. I needed to remind myself — and readers — that even if some politicians in Kansas don’t want to make the world a better place for their children and grandchildren, that’s not a universal attitude.

Gunning for Sustainability in Kansas

Posted on April 4, 2013 by Alex Wilson

I love many things about Kansas — from the tall-grass prairies in the Flint Hills where I’ve hiked through rolling hills overlooking grazing bison to the dramatic waterfowl migrations in the Cheyenne Bottoms region in the western part of the state.

Installing Cork Insulation

Posted on March 28, 2013 by Alex Wilson

What do you do if you’re a builder and your client (that would be me) hands you a material that no one’s ever heard of, let alone installed in this country, and asks you to insulate his house with it? A lot of smart builders would run the other way. Eli Gould, our partner in the Dummerston, Vermont farmhouse we’re renovating (really re-building), took it on as a challenge.

Cork Insulation on Our Farmhouse

Posted on March 21, 2013 by Alex Wilson

Among the innovative — some might say weird — products we’re trying out at our Dummerston, Vermont farmhouse, none is more unusual than the expanded cork insulation we’re currently installing as a layer of exterior rigid insulation. As I mentioned in a blog last summer, cork insulation has a great story behind it.

Extending Window Openings for a Deep Energy Retrofit

Posted on March 14, 2013 by Alex Wilson

A few weeks ago I reported on the amazing, high-tech Alpen, R-12 (center-of-glass) windows that we installed on the north and west facades of our farmhouse in Dummerston, Vermont. At that time I promised to report on the other windows we were installing on the south and east facades (windows 2.0 if you will).

A Pioneer of Low-Energy Homes Since 1973

Posted on March 7, 2013 by Alex Wilson

Bruce Brownell, of Adirondack Alternate Energy, has been creating low-energy, largely passive-solar-heated, resilient homes in the Northeast for forty years — and he’s still going strong. Since 1973, Bruce has built more than 375 homes in 15 states, a third of them in very cold (over 8,500-degree-dayMeasure of how cold or warm a location is over a period of time relative to a base temperature, typically 65°F (although other base temperatures, such as 75°F, can be used for cooling). To calculate the number of heating degree-days (HDD) of a given day, average the maximum and minimum outdoor temperatures and subtract that from 65°F. The annual number of heating degree-days is a measure of the severity of the climate and is used to determine expected fuel use for heating. Cooling degree-days (CDD), which measure air conditioning requirements, are calculated by subtracting the average outdoor temperature from an indoor base temperature.) climates. Most require just a few hundred dollars of heat per year.

Will Natural Gas Be Our Domestic Energy Savior?

Posted on February 27, 2013 by Alex Wilson

In many parts of the country and for many applications, natural gas is considered a panacea to our energy challenges.

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