Green Building Blog

Insulating With Damp-Spray Cellulose

Posted on March 26, 2015 by Leroy Anthony

Insulating any building can be a challenge, but the nonprofit energy-efficiency and weatherization company I work for, Community Environmental Center, frequently insulates old houses being rebuilt for residential group homes and elderly housing in New York City. These skilled-care buildings, like the one shown in these photos, are crammed with pipes, ducts, and wires, so they’re tough to insulate. They’re also located in dense urban neighborhoods that can be busy and loud.

Should Your Old Wood Windows Be Saved?

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Rob Yagid

Old wood windows are as charming as they are maddening. While they offer appealing craftsmanship and an authentic sense of home, they typically leak like a sieve. With rising fuel costs, an unstable economy, and a catatonic housing market, it’s simply becoming more and more difficult to look at those old units with pride.

Housing Is Back. Is It Better?

Posted on March 17, 2015 by Boyce Thompson

Tens of thousands of homebuilders in this country went out of business during the recession, as new-home starts contracted by 75%. One of the biggest sectors of the American economy was devastated.

Cold-Climate Collaboration

Posted on March 12, 2015 by matthew omalia

I practice architecture in mid-coast Maine, a cold area that can experience some of the country’s most beautiful and most brutal weather. This undoubtedly has had an impact on my approach to design. As an architect, I believe I’m composing a long-term picture of resource consumption, durability, and comfort in the homes I help to create. As a result, I feel it’s my responsibility to be as mindful about the implications of my designs as possible.

Ranch Transformed, Efficiency Achieved

Posted on March 9, 2015 by Jesse Thompson

My wife, Betsy, and I searched for two years before we found the dump of our dreams: a tiny, dirt-cheap, and homely 1960s ranch that was within walking distance of our children’s school and was close enough to downtown Portland so that we could ride our bikes to work. Our hope was that we could renovate it into an affordable, stylish, and comfortable home. Our creative vision was strong enough to sense the glimmer of a diamond deep inside that forgotten home on Madeline Street.

Buttoned Up for a New Century

Posted on March 4, 2015 by Jeremy R. M. Shannon

When my wife and I struck out on our own in 2005 to create our two companies, Prospect Architecture and Prospect Development & Construction, we wanted to lead the way in sustainable design and construction in New York City. Like many new firms, we rode the leading trends: 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. accreditation, recycled products, water conservation, energy efficiency, and local sourcing of products and services whenever possible. Carla and I approached our clients with the idea that building sustainably was not a choice—it was simply the way we worked.

Santa Cruz Straw Bale

Posted on February 26, 2015 by Anni Tilt

As a rule, we make sure our clients are interested in sustainability and design in equal parts, and ideally, our clients are also fun, intelligent, and engaged. When we met Bernie and Erika at a cafe near our office four years ago, our firm was incredibly busy, and it didn’t seem possible to add another project to our schedule. When the couple described their goals for the house and their property two blocks from the ocean in an eclectic neighborhood in Santa Cruz, Calif., we hesitated. “I’ll tell you what,” Bernie said.

Deep in the Heat of Texas

Posted on February 24, 2015 by Matt Risinger

You may have heard that here in Central Texas, it gets hot. The average temperature rises above 90°F on more than 100 days out of the year. As you might expect, we turn on the air conditioner more often than the furnace.

Foam Shrinks, and Other Lessons

Posted on February 23, 2015 by Joe Lstiburek, GBA Advisor

I did a deep-energy retrofit on my barn 16 years ago. Building Science Corp. was young and growing, and we needed a bigger office. The barn would be that office for the next 10 years. In fact, Betsy Pettit wrote about it in “Remodeling for Energy Efficiency” (FHB #194).

From a Leaky Old House to a Tight New Home

Posted on February 17, 2015 by Andrew Webster

Sara and Gareth Ross had spent a decade on the move. Postgraduate degrees and finance work had propelled them from Boston to New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. When it came time to settle down, though, they moved to Amherst, Mass., where Sara had grown up. Amherst is a vibrant college town with rural beauty and Japanese restaurants; for the Rosses, it was the perfect place to slow down, nurture roots, and raise children. The Rosses were not tied either to the idea of a new house or to a remodel.

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