Green Building Curmudgeon

Presidents and Sweaters

Posted on December 10, 2009 by Carl Seville

Earlier this fall, on one of the first chilly days, I considered climbing into the crawlspace to light the pilot on my floor furnace, but decided it was easier to just put on a sweatshirt. The practically prehistoric furnace is part of the house I had intended to demolish as part of my derailed plans for a new house, so I have been putting up with it for a few years now.

What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate

Posted on November 24, 2009 by Carl Seville

For my faithful readers who have been waiting anxiously for a report on my new house, I have distressing news. At my hearing before the historic commission in November, my project was soundly rejected by the five-member board. As mentioned in my earlier post , I expected, and was prepared for, a challenge on demolishing my existing house, which they considered historic.

Greenbuild 2009 Wrap-Up

Posted on November 22, 2009 by Carl Seville

Greenbuild 2009 in Phoenix was another great event. Unlike most of the construction industry, green building appears to be thriving. Attendance was slightly lower than last year but not by much, in contrast to other industry events that have seen their numbers plummet. Considering how many businesses are struggling or have closed, and the number of unemployed building professionals, the strength of this event is encouraging.

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.

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