Green Building Curmudgeon

I Found Some Green People!

Posted on November 18, 2009 by Carl Seville

During a recent visit to see my daughter at college in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I had the pleasure of visiting several projects designed by Michael Klement of Architectural Resource and built by Doug Selby of Meadowlark Builders . One house is a LEED Platinum renovation, and another is in the certification process. I had seen photos of both of these homes, but two things struck me when I saw them in person.

Green From the Start: Home Edition Volume 2

Posted on November 2, 2009 by Carl Seville

For those few of you who have been waiting breathlessly for updates on my new house, I finally have something to report. The preliminary plans were completed this fall and submitted to the local historic commission for approval, and that is where I ran into my first hiccup.

There is an existing cottage on the property that I was planning to demolish after my new house is complete. I was told by the commission staffer that the cottage is considered a “contributing structure” to the district, and I would have a hard time getting approval to remove it.

Water, Water Everywhere

Posted on October 11, 2009 by Carl Seville

Having little knowledge and less experience in rainwater collection, it was a lucky break for me that the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association or ARCSA national conference was held in my hometown recently. It was so close, in fact, that I was able to ride my bike to the event. I heard several good presentations from pioneers in rainwater collection with very interesting theories that really made me think. Issues that were raised included the value of rainwater vs. gray-water reclamation; one speaker contended that rainwater was a better value.

What Happened to September?

Posted on October 9, 2009 by Carl Seville

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted to my blog in about a month. September was challenging for me. I had high hopes for it to be a time of high productivity, but apparently it was not meant to be. The month started out promising: little scheduled travel, few deadlines, and several projects needing attention that I was excited about. It started going downhill almost immediately. I acquired a low-level virus, the flu, or something else that made me sluggish and uncomfortable, that sapped my strength and motivation, but did not debilitate me enough to seek medical attention.

Building Care Reform

Posted on September 16, 2009 by Carl Seville

I recently read an article in The New York Times — provocatively titled “Why we must ration healthcare” — that makes a reasonably cogent argument for health care reform, including some level of rationing, which is the hot button for both sides in the current discussions.

We Need Green People to Make Green Buildings Work

Posted on August 24, 2009 by Carl Seville

A recent New York Times article about the US Department of Energy (DOE) underscores a major problem we have in reducing energy usage. An audit of DOE buildings determined that the agency could save over $11.5 million annually by properly using setback controls on evenings and weekends. Out of 55 buildings surveyed, 35 either did not have or did not properly use setback thermostats.

How Many Green Building Principles Are There?

Posted on August 4, 2009 by Carl Seville

Lately I have been struggling with identifying the core concepts of green building and remodeling. For years I was comfortable with a list of four items: energy efficiency, durability, indoor environmental quality, and resource efficiency. Then I got an earful from my little unibrowed buddy, Michael Anschel, who pinpoints five core concepts: energy efficiency, water efficiency, resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and site and community impact.


Green Fatigue

Posted on July 6, 2009 by Carl Seville

I feel like I have been pushing the limp rope of green building and remodeling for almost 10 years now, and very recently, someone finally yanked on the other end. Finally, there is enough interest to make a career out of it!


Halfway There

Posted on July 2, 2009 by Carl Seville

With passage in the House of the Waxman Markey Climate Bill, we are about halfway to the "most ambitious energy and climate change legislation ever," according to The New York Times . While watered down in many areas such as renewable energy requirements and free pollution credits for the energy sector, the sections that affect buildings, both new and existing, remain some of the strongest parts of the bill.


Desire, Satisfaction, Food, and Homes

Posted on June 29, 2009 by Carl Seville

Dr. David Kessler, former head of the FDA, has written a book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, in which he identifies some of the reasons why we crave food that unhealthy and are practically helpless to resist.

In a recent New York Times article

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