Green Building Blog

Architects Show Leadership in Addressing Climate Change

Posted on May 11, 2017 by Victor Olgyay

Architects have a big responsibility for the role that the built environment plays in climate change. Globally, buildings consume 35% of all energy and 60% of all generated electricity — much of which is produced by fossil fuels. As the largest end-use energy sector, buildings account for more than one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, all buildings, from our homes, offices, schools, or shopping centers — and the architects who design them — can either exacerbate our climate problem, or be a foundational part of the solution.

Wolfe Island Passive: Heat Recovery Ventilation

Posted on March 27, 2017 by David Murakami Wood

Editor's note: David and Kayo Murakami Wood are building what they hope will be Ontario's first certified 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. on Wolfe Island, the largest of the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River. They are documenting their work at their blog, Wolfe Island Passive House. For a list of earlier posts in this series, see the sidebar below.

Thermal and Moisture Control Layers

Posted on February 21, 2017 by Michael Maines

Editor's note: This post originally was published as part of the ProHOME series at Fine Homebuilding magazine. Michael Maines is a Certified 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. Consultant and residential designer based in Palermo, Maine.

Getting to Zero Carbon in Menlo Park

Posted on January 17, 2017 by Anonymous

By DIANE BAILEY

What happens when a small Silicon Valley city flanked by Stanford University and Facebook headquarters sets its sights on a climate-neutral future? A zero carbon pathway and a fresh approach to the built environment emerge. But how?

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

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

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.

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