Green Building Curmudgeon

What Fruit Flies Taught Me About Sustainable Living

Posted on June 3, 2014 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

Last summer my house developed a fruit fly infestation, due to the fact that I had a lot of fresh fruit sitting around ripening on my counters. I recall once using aerosol bombs to get rid of them, but I figured this time around I would look for a slightly less toxic solution.

A quick web search turned up details for a standard fruit fly trap, consisting of a jar with a little cider vinegar and dish soap, covered with clear plastic with a few holes in it. The flies are attracted to the vinegar, fly in, get coated with dish soap, and drown in the cider.

Can’t Anyone Get Things Right?

Posted on April 14, 2014 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

In my business of certifying buildings, most of my work involves working with architects, contractors, and trade contractors who are trying to create green buildings. Unfortunately, they frequently miss the mark in some key areas.

Many of them are well intended but don’t have a broad enough view of their projects. Others only do the minimum required to meet a green building standard forced on them by someone else. And a few, thankfully, seem to get it and work hard to do the right things.

This post, the first in a series about problems I run across, will focus on HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building..

Settling In to My Renovated Cottage

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

I’ve been living in my renovated house for about two months now, and, with the exception of my hot water issue and ice on my windows, everything is working pretty well.

Been Having Those Hot Water Blues

Posted on February 4, 2014 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

As part of my renovation project, I needed to move the water heater out of its location in a below-grade recess in my crawl space that I was filling in to eliminate the need for a sump pump to get rid of water that collected. When considering the best type of new water heater, I considered both heat-pump water heaters and tankless heaters.

Dealing With Cold Weather in Climate Zone 3

Posted on January 20, 2014 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

We had some serious cold weather down here in Georgia recently, and although it didn’t come close to Martin Holladay’s recent experiences in Vermont, the low temperatures were a bit of a shock and caused a lot of problems.

Sticking With Spray Foam for My Renovation

Posted on December 10, 2013 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

Over the past dozen or so years my opinion on spray foam insulation has evolved from being a strong advocate to being slightly skeptical.

I have come to the conclusion that any well-designed new building can be insulated with any properly installed insulation. When it comes to renovations, however, spray foam often has some distinct advantages.

Making Slow Progress on My Renovation

Posted on November 12, 2013 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

After a couple of months of construction, I finally have more to report on my renovation project. It is moving more slowly and is costing more than I had expected, but it is moving along, the quality of work is excellent, and the end is in sight.

I am reminded almost every day why I decided to exit the renovation business – as exciting as it is to see construction progress, the time and energy it takes to make sure everything gets done right and on time exhausts me. This process has also been teaching me some important lessons about patience and right sized homes.

Architect Turned Master Marketer Writes a Book

Posted on September 30, 2013 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

Architect, urbanist, and new media guru Steve Mouzon's latest book, New Media for Designers and Builders, is a how-to manual for business owners who want to use social media and other marketing methods to promote themselves for fun and profit. It is truly a 21st-century book, since it is available in PDF and iPad formats, and since much of the content is published on separate websites accessed through embedded links.

Finally! Starting Construction At My House

Posted on September 2, 2013 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

After paying for two home designs, with one turned down and one approved by the local historic commission, I ultimately decided not to build a new house, mostly for financial reasons. Instead, I am renovating my existing cottage and adding a small office, a storage area, and a screened porch (an excellent feature in the South).

Ceiling Fans Are Evil

Posted on July 16, 2013 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

I can’t count the number of times I have walked past a neighbor’s home and seen the porch ceiling fans running with no one there to appreciate them. All the fans are doing is wasting electricity and contributing a little heat to the outdoor air. I am tempted (although I have never acted on the impulse) to pull the chains and turn the fans off or leave the neighbors a note.

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