Green Building Blog

The Case for Nuclear Power — Despite the Risks

Posted on June 16, 2015 by Gary Was

Nuclear power is likely the least well understood energy source in the United States. Just 99 nuclear power plants spread over 30 states provide one-fifth of America’s electricity. These plants have provided reliable, affordable, and clean energy for decades. They also carry risk — to the public, to the environment, and to the financial solvency of utilities.

A Straw-Bale Home in Vermont

Posted on June 10, 2015 by GBA Team

The owner of Vermont Natural Homes, Chad Mathrani, is building his own home near Brattleboro, Vermont. The walls of the house are built using several different construction methods, including timber frame, straw-bale, and double-stud framing insulated with cellulose.

This video of Mathrani's project was produced by a distributor of building products, 475 High Performance Building Products in Brooklyn, New York.

How to Provide Makeup Air for Range Hoods

Posted on June 8, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

When Cheryl Morris moved into her new home, she realized that the kitchen exhaust fan was probably too powerful. Whenever she turned on the 1,200-cfm fan, strange things happened. “It pulled the ashes out of the fireplace, halfway across the room, right up to my husband’s chair,” she says. Those dancing ashes demonstrate an important principle: Large exhaust fans need makeup air.

Friendlier Foam Insulation On the Way, Eventually

Posted on June 2, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Builders who have been waiting for a new generation of extruded polystyrene insulation with a lower global warming potential (GWP) than what’s currently available may have to wait a little longer.

How to Hang Airtight Drywall

Posted on May 25, 2015 by Myron Ferguson

Stopping air leaks is the single most important part of making a house more energy efficient. You can stop air on the outside with plywood, housewrap, and tape, but the best 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. is a system that incorporates the whole wall or roof assembly.

Prepping for Spray Foam

Posted on May 21, 2015 by Michael Chandler, GBA Advisor

Spray-foam insulation is gaining popularity these days, and for good reason. Not only does it offer lots of R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. per inch, but it also air-seals the house. I’ve been building custom homes in North Carolina for more than 20 years, and I’ve been using spray-foam insulation for the past four. These days, all my projects get 8 in. to 12 in. of foam under the roof deck, and I often use foam to insulate walls and crawlspaces as well.

Smart Scheduling Helps Projects to Finish on Time

Posted on May 19, 2015 by Michael Patterson

It’s been said that stereotypes are stereotypes because they contain a grain of truth. While “two weeks” may be funny, it hits close enough to home that whatever smile we contractors may have is a bit pinched, and whatever smiles our clients may have are knowing ones. I’m all for smiles, but I’d rather they be the satisfied grins of contractors and homeowners whose jobs went according to plan. Scheduling a project well ensures that satisfied grins are the rule.

How to Save an Old House

Posted on May 14, 2015 by Steve Baczek

Located in the historic district of Wayland, Mass., this 1850 Cape was added onto several times throughout its history. When we started our work, the house was empty, was in serious disrepair, and lacked even minimal modern performance standards. The house easily could have been designated as a teardown. My client was sensitive to the house’s architectural contribution to his community, though, and instead chose to breathe new life into it.

A New Roof Over the Old One

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Peter Bennett

My rustic 1930s post-and-beam home in Vermont had a definite roof problem: It was poorly insulated and susceptible to ice dams. But when I started working on a design for upgrading the insulation, I wasn’t willing to lose the look of the cathedral ceiling and the exposed-pole rafters by insulating on the inside. Because I needed to replace the 30-year-old cedar shakes anyway, it appeared an opportune time to fix the problem from the outside.

Downtown Design

Posted on May 7, 2015 by James Tuer

Living in the city doesn’t have to require a compromise in the quality of living, as some rural and suburban dwellers assume. You don’t have to forfeit a sense of privacy, give up a love of nature, or be forced to drive far outside city limits to find true refuge. When designed well, a home in a dense city neighborhood can provide quiet and personal space while keeping its owners thoroughly connected to the pulse of the urban landscape.

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