Green Building Blog

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.

Deep in the Heat of Texas

Posted on February 24, 2015 by Matt Risinger

You may have heard that here in Central Texas, it gets hot. The average temperature rises above 90°F on more than 100 days out of the year. As you might expect, we turn on the air conditioner more often than the furnace.

Foam Shrinks, and Other Lessons

Posted on February 23, 2015 by Joe Lstiburek, GBA Advisor

I did a deep-energy retrofit on my barn 16 years ago. Building Science Corp. was young and growing, and we needed a bigger office. The barn would be that office for the next 10 years. In fact, Betsy Pettit wrote about it in “Remodeling for Energy Efficiency” (FHB #194).

From a Leaky Old House to a Tight New Home

Posted on February 17, 2015 by Andrew Webster

Sara and Gareth Ross had spent a decade on the move. Postgraduate degrees and finance work had propelled them from Boston to New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. When it came time to settle down, though, they moved to Amherst, Mass., where Sara had grown up. Amherst is a vibrant college town with rural beauty and Japanese restaurants; for the Rosses, it was the perfect place to slow down, nurture roots, and raise children. The Rosses were not tied either to the idea of a new house or to a remodel.

Passive House Perfection

Posted on February 12, 2015 by Justin Pauly

After both growing up in California, Mica and Laureen lived together in many other places throughout their busy careers. Their hearts have always been on the West Coast, though, and they longed to return one day. They eventually found a small piece of property in the coastal enclave of Carmel-by-the Sea on the Monterey Peninsula, and they hired me as architect and Rob Nicely of Carmel Building & Design as builder for a new house that will one day be their permanent home.

Attic-Insulation Upgrade

Posted on February 9, 2015 by Mike Guertin, GBA Advisor

Do you want to keep your heating costs from going through the roof? It’s easy: Keep your heat from going through the roof. Saving money on heating-fuel costs is a lot simpler than negotiating with OPEC or your local utility. On a recent upgrade in the attic of a 1950s-era house (one of two projects shown here), I air-sealed and spread a 12-in.- deep layer of cellulose throughout 1500 sq. ft. of space in about a day.

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