Green Building Blog

A Practical Approach to Passive House

Posted on November 10, 2016 by Steve Baczek

I began my career in architecture nearly 17 years ago after spending many years as a contractor. My background has given me a strong appreciation for and understanding of people who design and build homes. I’ve designed more than 30 zero-energy homes, six deep-energy retrofits, and numerous high-performance houses. In truth, the path to optimum performance and durability hasn’t always been easy.

Blue Heron EcoHaus: Adding it All Up

Posted on August 11, 2016 by Kent Earle

Editor's note: Kent Earle and his wife, Darcie, write a blog called Blue Heron EcoHaus, documenting their journey “from urbanites to ruralites” and the construction of a superinsulated house on the Canadian prairies. The blog below was originally published in February. A complete list of Kent Earle's GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com blogs can be found below.

Will Europe Stop Trashing U.S. Forests in the Name of Bioenergy?

Posted on July 7, 2016 by Kenneth Richter

Since 2010, the Natural Resources Defense Council's Our Forests Aren’t Fuel campaign to save southeastern forests from logging for bioenergy has sounded the alarm about this issue and targeted the European Union for reform.

In 2009, the EU passed binding legislation to ensure the EU meets its climate and energy targets, including a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a requirement that 20% of EU energy be generated from renewable sources, and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, all by 2020.

LEED Gets Tougher Energy Requirements

Posted on April 4, 2016 by Stuart Kaplow

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBCUnited States Green Building Council (USGBC). Organization devoted to promoting and certifying green buildings. USGBC created the LEED rating systems.) has announced that beginning on April 8, 2016, all new projects registering for LEEDLeadership 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. 2009 will need to satisfy increased minimum energy performance thresholds.

According to USGBC, the results of a recent ballot show that 78.6% percent of the consensus body voted in favor of this change to the 7-year-old rating system. By LEED rules, a minimum of two-thirds approval was needed for any balloted measure.

GBA Prime Sneak Peek: Plan Ahead for Insulation

Posted on March 19, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com Prime subscribers have access to many articles that aren't accessible to non-subscribers, including Martin Holladay's weekly blog series, “Musings of an Energy Nerd.” To whet the appetite of non-subscribers, we occasionally offer non-subscribers access to a “GBA Prime Sneak Peek” article like this one.

Leak-Free Skylights

Posted on January 21, 2016 by Mike Guertin, GBA Advisor

I used to worry every time I installed a skylight. Even with the best installation detailing, I could still expect a storm to hit from just the right direction and drive water behind the flashing.

When I discovered peel-and-stick membranes, my worrying days ended. Now I follow a series of simple steps that hasn’t failed in more than 15 years’ worth of installations. The key to success is integrating the membrane and the flashings with the shingles to direct water back to the surface of the roof. Although the project shown here is a retrofit, I would flash it the same way on a new home.

Repairing Rotten Trim

Posted on January 7, 2016 by John Michael Davis

If I look hard enough at any house here in New Orleans, I’m sure to see one: a length of casing, fascia or corner board, with a hideous scarf joint only a foot or two from the end. This joint wasn’t put there by the builder; it was added years later to repair a rotten section of trim.

We get a lot of rot down here, and the ends of the boards are often the first to go. When they do, the standard repair is to cut back to undamaged wood at a 45º angle (what’s known as a scarf joint), then attach a new section of trim using yellow glue and finish nails. Sometimes it looks good—for a while.

Martin’s 2015 Christmas Poem

Posted on December 18, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

To Our Coy Leaders
With apologies to Andrew Marvell

Sensible Plumbing

Posted on October 6, 2015 by Dave Yates

“We have very low pressure at the master-bathroom shower, and if any other plumbing is used, we literally have no water coming out of the showerhead.” The frustration in my new customer’s voice was palpable, and during the drive to his country estate, thoughts about the root causes of his home’s water-pressure woes ran through my head. I pulled into the driveway of what had to be a multimillion-dollar home. How could a house that looked this great be suffering so much internally?

Managing Job-Site Mud

Posted on September 30, 2015 by Fernando Pages Ruiz

Drive past an average construction site (even a small residential addition) after a summer rain, and the street is usually coated with mud. Gooey, sticky, dirty stuff, the mud that runs off job sites and flows into storm sewers wreaks havoc on the quality of streams, rivers, and other waterways. But beyond the dire environmental consequences of job-site runoff, it’s also rude to mire your neighbors in mud. Plus, there’s the matter of steep fines.

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