Green Building Curmudgeon

Book Review: Retooling the U.S. Housing Industry

Posted on October 25, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

Sam Rashkin, until very recently the head of Energy Star for Homes, recently published Retooling The US Housing industry, a book of his opinions on, and suggestions of how to improve, the new home industry. The book is a fairly quick read with a great history of housing, and a good analysis of how the U.S. home building industry evolved to its current state.

One Fine Day With a Ventilation Expert

Posted on October 18, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

I had the pleasure of attending an all-day seminar in Atlanta recently by Gord Cooke, one of the rock stars of the building science community. I have known him for a while and heard him speak a few times in the past, but was unaware of his close connection with the ventilation industry.

Affordable Housing is Leading Green Building

Posted on October 11, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

I recently learned that in Georgia, as well as much of the rest of the country, Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), the fuel that drives much of the affordable housing industry, strongly encourages green building certification for projects that obtain these credits. Without this connection to tax credits, we would see many fewer certified green homes and apartments, and these affordable developers would not be the leaders in green building that they are today.

What Were They Thinking?

Posted on September 27, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

I’ve been doing HERS ratings and green building certifications for several years now, and I have run across some pretty scary things during inspections that sometimes make me wonder what everyone was thinking.

Now, I was a contractor for a long time, and I understand the challenges of getting things done on time, correctly, and within the budget, and by no means am I trying to minimize those challenges. What does amaze me is how little attention some contractors and trade contractors pay to the details as their projects are underway.

I’m Beginning to Really Hate Eco-Bling

Posted on September 15, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

On hearing the news that three photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturers, at least one a recipient of federal loan money, have recently declared bankruptcy, I once again started thinking about my frustration with people’s attachment to putting cool “stuff” on their buildings before making sure that those buildings actually operate well.

It’s Alive! Studying the Living Building Challenge

Posted on August 30, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

I spent most of a day recently in a seminar on the Living Building Challenge (LBC), a self-described philosophy, advocacy tool, and certification program for sustainable building. If people outside the industry think that existing green building programs are pie-in-the-sky and touchy-feely, put together by granola-eaters, then they are going to have to adjust their scales for the LBC.

Reviewing Submissions for Government Funding

Posted on August 24, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

I just finished up two long days sitting in a conference room with over 25 other people reviewing green building proposals for a federal agency that must remain unnamed. Both interesting and mind-numbing, the process of reading, evaluating, grading, discussing, and writing reports was an arduous and informative process.

Ramblings on Retail and Green Homes

Posted on August 12, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

My father owned a local hardware store for almost thirty years, and I have fond memories of hanging out and working there, with the locally owned stationery story, movie theater, pharmacy, and grocery on the same block. Each successive block was also populated primarily with independently owned businesses, usually operated by their owners, most of whom lived nearby. Most businesses were local; when you went to a different town, the stores were noticeably different.

An Open Discussion on Closed Crawl Spaces

Posted on July 26, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

This post is just an observation that I hope will stimulate some conversation about the subject of closed crawl spaces. This evolved out of conversations with two builders—one a high-end custom outfit and the other an affordable builder. Both of them had been certifying their homes to EarthCraft House standards and were building with closed crawl spaces. On the same day last week I heard from both builders that they were having moisture problems in their closed crawl spaces, were reluctant to continue building them, and were considering returning to vented designs.

Baby Steps on the Path to High-Performance Homes

Posted on July 18, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

As a consultant (which I recently learned is a euphemism for "unemployed"), I find that my income streams seem to change fairly regularly. One year I do a lot of speaking and teaching, then suddenly most of my work is building certification, and the next year it is something else. I liken my business model to fishing; that is, I eat what I catch. My newest “catch” is performance testing of new homes for energy code compliance.

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