Green Building Blog

Framing Begins at the Potwine Passivhaus

Posted on September 23, 2014 by Alexi Arango

As they set out to build a single-family PassivhausA 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. on Potwine Lane in Amherst, Massachusetts, Alexi Arango and LeeAnn Kim asked themselves, “Is it possible to live without burning fossil fuels?” One measure of success would be meeting their goal of net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. performance. This is the fourth blog in a planned series.

March 15, 2014: First floor framing

Don, the carpenter, was able to get a bunch of work done early in the week before the weather turned cold and stormy. He’s basically got most of the first floor framing done.

A Call for Guest Blogs

Posted on July 24, 2014 by GBA Team

GBA loves guest blogs. Our readers are smart. Many of you post long, thoughtful comments on GBA every day. So it's time for some of you to send us a guest blog. We'd love to publish what you have to say.

What's a guest blog? Sometimes it's nothing more than three or four paragraphs and a good photo.

Did you see something funny at a job site today?

Did you drive past an ugly house yesterday?

Are you an inspector who can't believe what you see?

Did you just invent a great detail?

GBA Welcomes New Readers

Posted on July 17, 2014 by GBA Team

Now that the Green Building Advisor website is more than five years old, it has over 36,000 web pages. That's a lot of pages. It's no surprise that it can take a while to find what you are looking for in GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com's massive archives.

If you are a relative newcomer to GBA, welcome! Here are a few pointers to help you find your way around GBA.

Part 4 of GBA’s Passivhaus Video Series

Posted on June 26, 2014 by GBA Team

At the PassivhausA 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. job site in Falmouth, Massachusetts, architect Steve Baczek specified double-stud walls. The frame of a Passivhaus may not be as exciting as the thick layers of insulation, the high-tech mechanical ­systems, or the triple-glazed windows, but it plays a very important supporting role in achieving success.

Part 3 of GBA’s Passivhaus Video Series

Posted on June 19, 2014 by GBA Team

At the PassivhausA 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. job site in Falmouth, Massachusetts, architect Steve Baczek specified the installation of 10 inches of EPSExpanded polystyrene. Type of rigid foam insulation that, unlike extruded polystyrene (XPS), does not contain ozone-depleting HCFCs. EPS frequently has a high recycled content. Its vapor permeability is higher and its R-value lower than XPS insulation. EPS insulation is classified by type: Type I is lowest in density and strength and Type X is highest. under the slab-on-grade foundation. After the concrete had been placed, more rigid foam was installed above the slab, to bring the finished floor assembly to R-50.

Part 2 of GBA’s Video Series on a Passive House Project

Posted on January 20, 2014 by GBA Team

At 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. job site in Falmouth, Massachusetts, architect Steve Baczek specified a mudsill gasket.

But to make sure that the gap between the top of the foundation and the sill plate didn't leak, Baczek took a belt-and-suspenders approach by also specifying the use of Tremco acoustical sealant. Sold in tubes at specialty retailers and online, the black sealant installs easily with a caulk gun. It’s exceedingly sticky and highly elastic, and unlike construction adhesive, it never cures.

A Free Gift for GBA Pro Members

Posted on December 23, 2013 by GBA Team

As most regular GreenBuildingAdvisor.com readers know, our website has been plagued by software glitches for many months. These problems include unexplained site crashes, “access denied” errors, and a broken spam filter which caused commercial messages to be posted on our Q&A pages.

All of us here at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com would like to take this opportunity to apologize to GBA subscribers and readers. The current level of service that GBA is offering is unacceptable — unacceptable to our readers, unacceptable to GBA, and unacceptable to the Taunton Press.

Recent Changes to LEED for Homes — Part 1

Posted on November 5, 2013 by Ann Edminster, GBA Advisor

My perspective on the latest version of the LEED for HomesLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. standard (version 4) has an inescapably historic slant. This doesn’t mean that I categorically reject change. In fact, much as a parent reserves the right to be her child’s most ardent fan and harshest critic at times, I have not been at all hesitant to point out flaws in LEED for Homes over the years since the launch of the pilot.

Excellence in Building: Worth the Trip to Phoenix

Posted on June 25, 2013 by Brian Pontolilo

Each year, the editors at Fine Homebuilding and GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com hit a bunch of trade shows and conferences. We go for a number of reasons. The big shows (IBS, KBIS, and AIA) are where the big product releases happen and where we can expose the most people to our brand. We often have our own booth at these shows, and along with our contributors, we sometimes have the opportunity to speak about relevant topics in home building and design.

(At Least) Five Things Are Wrong With This Picture

Posted on June 11, 2013 by GBA Team

Last week we published this photo as part of our “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” series. The photo shows a problematic roof at a multifamily building in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The puzzler was created by Garrett Mosiman and Pat Huelman at the University of Minnesota. Mosiman and Huelman concluded that the Minneapolis building had the following five problems.

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