Green Building Blog

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.

Retrofits versus Reductions

Posted on September 3, 2015 by Marc Rosenbaum

Anyone who is contemplating a deep energy retrofit has to consider multiple approaches and techniques for taking the diverse building stock we have and transforming it — from the standpoint not just of energy use, but also comfort, health and safety, and durability — because so much of our building stock is plagued with deficiencies. Retrofits fix the issues with the building — and saving energy almost ends up as a desirable byproduct.

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.

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