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It’s Time to Admit I’ve Been Wrong About Many Things

Look for a kinder, gentler Green Curmudgeon

Posted on Apr 1 2013 by Carl Seville

Posted April 1, 2013

With the arrival of spring and new plant growth springing up all around, I’ve begun to reflect on my several years of writing this blog post, and I have come to the conclusion that far too often I have been overly critical and close-minded about many things. In addition, I have championed some theories and causes that contradicted many long-standing traditions in design, construction, and renovation. And it’s time to say I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for the pain I have caused insulation manufacturers and installers, particularly the fiberglass batt industry. I realize now that my words were unduly harsh and hurtful and caused pain to many people. I’m sitting here now, willing to stick my neck out and say that batt insulationInsulation, usually of fiberglass or mineral wool and often faced with paper, typically installed between studs in walls and between joists in ceiling cavities. Correct installation is crucial to performance. is a fine product and more often than not it works great.

Time to rethink things

I have written often about HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. systems and the benefits of installing them in conditioned space – and how many builders don’t do it. I understand now the reasons for this, and realize that in most cases, it just doesn’t make sense.

Why waste all that great square footage on a mechanical closet? The bigger a house, the more money a builder can get for it. And everyone hates furr-down soffits, so why build them?

And since the owner is the one who pays the energy bills, no reasonable person could expect a builder to spend extra money to make a house more efficient, particularly if it reduces the profit they can make on a sale. I say, Go ahead, put those ducts in the attic! Especially if you can sell a bigger HVAC system – we all know that bigger is better anyway.

And what about those energy codes? Who does the government think they are that they can force us to make our buildings more efficient? We are constantly told what to do with our homes, just to save a little energy. It’s almost as bad as higher mileage standards for cars that they have been shoving down our throats for years.

We all know that with the newly tapped natural gas and oil sand reserves, not to mention the vast amounts of coal we have, we’re not going to run out of energy for years, at least not until I’m dead and buried, so why should I worry? We all have the God-given right to run our air conditioning with the windows open in an empty house while we’re are out cruising in our Hummers.

Reconsidering green building programs

I realize now that I have said unkind things about the various green building certification programs. Over the years working with them, I have begun to appreciate the value of their complexity.

How could you not love a system like 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. that has a 112-page rating system, a 342-page book that costs $100 to explain it, and a spreadsheet to track it that only works some of the time? Now that is some job security for people like me.

And I have to say to Home Innovation Research Labs (formerly the NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. Research Center): please bring back that amazing online scoring tool. I really miss spending a couple of hours working with a sluggish program trying to figure out if my client’s project will qualify for certification.

Time to get to work

Some of you may wonder what ever happened to my new house project. Well, it ends up that I’m not going to build a house, at least for now.

I am going to do a little work on my existing house, the little historic shack that I can’t tear down. The current plan calls for taking out the high-performance minisplit heat pumps I recently installed, replacing them with a nice reclaimed 80% furnace and 10 SEER(SEER) The efficiency of central air conditioners is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER rating of a unit, the more energy efficient it is. The SEER rating is Btu of cooling output during a typical hot season divided by the total electric energy in watt-hours to run the unit. For residential air conditioners, the federal minimum is 13 SEER. For an Energy Star unit, 14 SEER. Manufacturers sell 18-20 SEER units, but they are expensive. AC unit I ran across.

The furnace will go in the crawlspace after I open up the vents I sealed up a while back, and I’ll be damned if I bother with that mastic stuff on the ducts – it’s way too messy.

And wait until you see the beautiful sheet vinylCommon term for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In chemistry, vinyl refers to a carbon-and-hydrogen group (H2C=CH–) that attaches to another functional group, such as chlorine (vinyl chloride) or acetate (vinyl acetate). flooring I found for the kitchen and the shag carpet for the bathroom! I love the smell of new finishes in the house – just like a new car fresh off the lot. Breathe deep.


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1.
Apr 1, 2013 6:19 AM ET

Don't forget the powered attic vent fan!
by Chris Laumer-Giddens

Carl,

When you retrofit your little shack of a home, be sure to keep that attic nice and cool with a high-powered attic ventilation fan!

Good luck!


2.
Apr 2, 2013 7:08 PM ET

Light bulbs too!
by Tim Rowledge

Don't forget to pull all those nasty mercury-filled fluorescent bulbs and replace them with nice heat-making incandescent bulbs that divert the mercury production to power-plants where it can blow across the countryside.


3.
Apr 3, 2013 10:09 AM ET

It's about damn time
by JoeW N GA Zone 3A

But this is spoken like a true citizen of Georgia (Jaw-juh). I'm proud of you. In celebration of your conversion, I'll go warm up my car for an hour or so.


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