Green Building Blog

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.

Blog Review: Energy Vanguard Blog

Posted on January 7, 2011 by GBA Team

by Martin Holladay is launching a new feature: periodic reviews of interesting blogs. To get the ball rolling, I’m recommending the Energy Vanguard blog.

The author of the Energy Vanguard blog, Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a RESNET-accredited energy consultant and trainer. He performs heat loss calculations, provides HERS rating services, and provides rater training and Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. training, among other services.

GBA To Go!

Posted on January 2, 2011 by Daniel Morrison

Try out this app for mobile phones. I built it at using the free site. It will be available for the next couple of weeks at which point, it will either go away or I'll pony up the cash to buy a subscription.

Bookmark this link on your iPhone or Android phone and you're mobile:

Jeffrey Gordon's Paper on Bursting Pipes

Posted on November 24, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

William Rose, the renowned architect and building researcher from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, kindly forwarded a research report by Jeffrey Gordon, “An Investigation Into Freezing and Bursting Water Pipes in Residential Construction.”

The report is broken into three parts. To view the report, click on the links below:
Part 1
Part 2

The Green Countertop Dilemma

Posted on November 11, 2010 by Ann Edminster, GBA Advisor

During a recent visit to Eco6Design in Half Moon Bay, California, I was drooling over all the fabulous “eco” options for countertops. Serious eye candy! Vetrazzo, Fireclay Tile, Stone Age, IceStone, Fuez. I was itching to go home, rip out my pale-avocado-tile-with-black-grout counters and start afresh.

Report from the ICC Code Hearings

Posted on November 3, 2010 by Michael Chandler, GBA Advisor

The ICC hearings last week were packed with building inspectors and government officials who received grant funding — both to join the ICC (so they could vote) and to cover the cost of transportation, food and lodging for the trip. Together they managed to vote in a new code that aims for a 30% reduction in energy usage compared to the 2006 code. Voters who were more interested in affordable housing than energy efficiency never had a chance, though the debates were long and redundant. (For example, the blower door test mandate was debated on five separate occasions.)

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