Green Building Curmudgeon


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

LEED Homes Logo 2

Equal-Opportunity Feather Ruffling

Posted on June 18, 2009 by Carl Seville

It seems as though the National Green Building StandardNational Green Building Standard Based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines and passed through ANSI. This standard can be applied to both new homes, remodeling projects, and additions. , and NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. in general, have been getting a lot of heat here and elsewhere lately, so I think it is time to ruffle the feathers of 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. and the USGBCUnited States Green Building Council (USGBC). Organization devoted to promoting and certifying green buildings. USGBC created the LEED rating systems.. In my work providing certification under both programs, I have uncovered many of their deep, dark secrets. Both have very specific requirements and unique gaps that will be addressed in detail in future articles on


On Homes and Cars and Jets and Supermarkets

Posted on June 15, 2009 by Carl Seville

Home building has undergone dramatic changes since the early 20th century. Houses used to be assembled from a relatively small number of different components—wood, brick, plaster, tile, pipe—and not too much else. In fact, many homes didn't have indoor plumbing or wiring through much of the first half of the 20th century. They weren’t very efficient, but they were durable and low maintenance.

Air Sealing

When Will They Ever Learn?

Posted on June 8, 2009 by Carl Seville

Once again, the obstructionists are hard at work. According to a recent article in The Hill, a nonpartisan, nonideological daily paper for and about Congress, climate and energy bills currently clawing their way through Congress are meeting stiff resistance from several industry groups, including the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Curmudgeon Design Meeting

Green From the Start – Home Edition

Posted on June 2, 2009 by Carl Seville

A few weeks ago I spent about eight hours with Barley and Pfeiffer Architects in Austin, TX, working up a preliminary design for my new house near Atlanta. While I certainly increased my carbon footprintAmount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that a person, community, industry, or other entity contributes to the atmosphere through energy use, transportation, and other means. by flying to Texas for this meeting, having been around the design and construction industry for a while, I decided that I wanted to go with the most experienced architects I could find for my new, green home. Peter Pfeiffer has been a friend of mine pretty much since the day he attended a jobsite tour of a “green” renovation project of mine.

Troy Solar House

A Baffling Demo House

Posted on May 18, 2009 by Carl Seville

My friend Justin Jones of Building Performance Solutions sent me a link to this article about a demonstration house in Troy, Michigan, that apparently was designed to show the public how to build a grid-independent project.

Tote Bag

Tote Bags and Energy Efficiency (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on May 15, 2009 by Carl Seville

At a local Earth Hour party, the largest electric utility the area, Georgia Power, handed out "eco-friendly" tote bags made of vinyl recycled from its billboards. The company claims, "Each billboard can be used to produce approximately 150 tote bags." Notice it says "can" rather than "is." I would be interested to know how many bags were actually made from that recycled billboard. I mean, how many more tote bags do we need? I feel like I am buried in them, and they just keep appearing. They are the advertising specialty of the hour, having replaced beer cozies and refrigerator magnets.


Designation Exhaustion

Posted on May 11, 2009 by Carl Seville

Many industries have designations and certifications available for practitioners, some of which have strong legal implications, such as MD and RN. Many others have been created by professions themselves, and, while requiring varying levels of rigor to attain, these are primarily marketing tools, proper usage of which is enforced by the industry or association.


How Green Is My Architect?

Posted on May 1, 2009 by Carl Seville

Made it to San Francisco for the AIA (American Institute of Architects) annual conference yesterday, and while there was not a single bow tie in sight, I did see at least two pairs of Corbu glasses. What was most interesting, although not unexpected, was how green the conference itself has become. Just as the rest of the building industry—and the country, for that matter—has suddenly taken on the green mantle, architects and their affiliated partners have all "gone green."

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