Green Building Blog

Blog Review: Energy Insights by Paul Scheckel

Posted on May 26, 2011 by Scott Gibson

Paul Scheckel’s career as an energy efficiency specialist began in 1988 when he spent $350 on a 50-watt solar electric panel and turned the bedroom of his rental house into an off-grid zone. A year later he began working for the company he’d purchased the solar panel from, and two years after that started an electric-car company with two friends.

Blog Review: Thriving on Low Carbon

Posted on May 12, 2011 by Scott Gibson

Marc Rosenbaum is a well-known energy consultant who for 25 years lived in a house he called Nerdwood in Meriden, NH. It was heated mostly by wood and the sun. Rosenbaum’s company, Energysmiths, took on a variety of consulting jobs, including some for South Mountain Company on Martha’s Vineyard, which developed a cohousingDevelopment pattern in which multiple (typically 8 to 30) privately owned houses or housing units are clustered together with some commonly owned spaces, such as a common workshop, greenhouse, etc. Automobiles are typically kept to the perimeter of the community, creating a protected area within where children can play. Usually, residents are closely involved in all aspects of the development, from site selection to financing and design. community there called Island Cohousing.

Blog Review: Erik’s Blog

Posted on May 5, 2011 by Scott Gibson

Erik Haugsjaa is a software engineer and Web consultant who lives in Stow, Massachusetts, in a house he says comes close to net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. performance. Built in 2010, his 2 1/2-story, 1,650-square-foot. house is equipped with a 6.9-kW photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. array and a ductless minisplit system for heating and air conditioning.

Blog Review: Almost Passive House

Posted on April 28, 2011 by Scott Gibson

Blogs about energy-efficient, sustainable building sometimes seem overflowing with technical information — information that is not exactly tedious, but not quite light reading either. To be fair, building science is complicated. There may be no simple way of explaining vapor drive, U-factors, and the fine points of solar heat-gain coefficient. But to the uninitiated, these technical terms can result in slow slogging.

Blog Review: Trillium Architects

Posted on April 13, 2011 by Scott Gibson

Elizabeth Di Salvo cut her green-building teeth in 1992 in what she describes as an off-grid community in Colorado where she lived in a converted railroad box car. There, she learned a “very grass roots approach” to building, but also recognized how difficult it would be to incorporate those ideas into the mainstream housing market.

It’s Air Conditioning, Not Air Cool-ditioning

Posted on April 12, 2011 by Michael Chandler, GBA Advisor

"Why should anyone bother to ‘right-size’ an air conditioner — especially when it costs $350 to hire an engineer to ensure that the Manual J and Manual D calculations are performed properly?"

Blog Review: Brute Force Collaborative

Posted on March 31, 2011 by Scott Gibson

One of the most appealing things about the web are the unplanned side trips you take on the way to somewhere else, which is how I found myself at Brute Force Collaborative, a blog with a special focus on PassivhausA 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. projects.

BFC is the work of two Passivhaus designers, Michael Eliason and Aaron Yankauskas, who went to school together at Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies, and then worked for a time in Germany. Both eventually settled in Seattle.

Blog Review: Up Hill House

Posted on March 17, 2011 by Scott Gibson

Larry and Jill Burks are self-described city folks building a house in upstate New York. It's not any old house, but a 1,200-sq.-ft., superinsulated home that they hope will generate more power than it consumes in a year — a “net-positive” house.

Their blog, Up Hill House, is the step-by-step story of how the house gets built, beginning in June 2008 when they bought 50 acres of land and a cabin near the town of Cambridge, N.Y.

Blog Review: Kitchen-Exchange

Posted on February 23, 2011 by Scott Gibson

Peggy Deras is a certified kitchen designer and certified interior designer in the San Francisco Bay area who launched her Kitchen-Exchange blog as a companion to her Web site, Kitchen Artworks.

Blog Review: Eco Build Trends Blog

Posted on January 27, 2011 by GBA Team

By Martin Holladay

Vera Novak’s Eco Build Trends blog covers green construction, environmental responsibility, and building science issues. Her diverse background — as a building science student and a former employee working in the ICFInsulated concrete form. Hollow insulated forms, usually made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), used for building walls (foundation and above-ground); after stacking and stabilizing the forms, the aligned cores are filled with concrete, which provides the wall structure. (insulated concrete forms) industry — gives her an experienced take on many green building topics. Novak expects to receive her PhD in construction from Virginia Tech this year.

To give a flavor of her blog, here’s a sample of some of her writing.

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