Green Building Blog

District Heating

Posted on January 28, 2014 by Vera Novak

During my recent travels in Europe, I was surprised at the wide variety of approaches to heating methods and distribution. For example, in the U.K. we visited the Southampton City district heating scheme, a project that uses geothermal and CHP (combined heat and power). The centrally generated heat is supplied to surrounding buildings through underground pipes. It serves 45 businesses, and the businesses save 10% on energy costs plus all of the costs of owning and maintaining heating equipment.

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.

What’s Wrong With These Roof Details?

Posted on June 4, 2013 by GBA Team

Readers are invited to identify as many errors they can spot in the attached photo of a multifamily building in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This is the latest photo in our ongoing series, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” (To see three previous photos in the series, click the links in the box below.)

The photo comes from Garrett Mosiman and Pat Huelman at the University of Minnesota. (Their work is funded by the Building America program.)

New Video: Stump the Energy Nerd, Part 1

Posted on May 15, 2013 by GBA Team

GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com has released a video of the “Stump the Energy Nerd” event presented at NESEANorth East Sustainable Energy Association. A regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA is committed to advancing three core elements: sustainable solutions, proven results and cutting-edge development in the field. States included in this region stretch from Maine to Maryland. www.nesea.org's Building Energy 13 conference in Boston. The video was recorded on March 6, 2013.

The event was intended as a combination of light entertainment and education. However, most of the audience members seemed more interested in getting answers to their construction and energy questions than they were in stumping Holladay.

New Videos: Sealing Ducts and Installing Dense-Packed Cellulose

Posted on April 17, 2013 by GBA Team

GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com has released two new videos: one on installing dense-packed cellulose in stud cavities, and the other on sealing duct seams with mastic.

Both videos were recorded in March 2013 at NESEANorth East Sustainable Energy Association. A regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA is committed to advancing three core elements: sustainable solutions, proven results and cutting-edge development in the field. States included in this region stretch from Maine to Maryland. www.nesea.org's Building Energy 13 conference in Boston.

New GBA Details for ‘Juliet’ Balconies

Posted on April 16, 2013 by GBA Team

GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com's library of construction details continues to expand. The latest two additions are details for second-floor balconies.

Many second-floor balconies — especially those created by cantilevering floor joists — leak heat and admit water. To avoid problems with air leakage, thermal bridgingHeat flow that occurs across more conductive components in an otherwise well-insulated material, resulting in disproportionately significant heat loss. For example, steel studs in an insulated wall dramatically reduce the overall energy performance of the wall, because of thermal bridging through the steel. , and moisture entry, use one of the following details

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