Green Building Blog

A Better Approach to Design/Build

Posted on April 6, 2015 by Ann Edminster, GBA Advisor

The most ambitious project I’ve ever worked on is a spectacular, über-green home in the foothills west of Silicon Valley. The owners, Linda Yates and Paul Holland, contacted me in May 2006 to request that I brief their project team on 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. , then in its prepilot stage. Six years later, in November 2012, I had the pleasure of leading a tour of the house as part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild conference. I invited Fine Homebuilding editor Brian Pontolilo to tag along.

Breathe Easy With Balanced Ventilation

Posted on March 31, 2015 by Sean Groom

Houses need fresh air. Without ventilation, the quality of indoor air can rapidly become worse than that of the outside air; that holds true even in urban areas. Common contaminants include gases, odors, and moisture, and these can stem from utility rooms, garages, basements, bathrooms, and kitchens.

Exploiting the Elements of Passive Design

Posted on March 30, 2015 by James Tuer

Every site has a story to tell, and the right house can help to tell that story. Located on the western coast of Bowen Island in British Columbia, this house is a good example. My clients, a professor of East Asian archaeology and a researcher from Kyoto, Japan, had worked the land for years, cultivating extensive gardens of ornamental plants from around the world. When they approached me to design a house for the property, they had only two requests: The home must fit the site, and it should have minimal impact on the landscape. The rest of the design was left in my hands.

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.

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