Green Building Curmudgeon

Energy Code Enforcement is a Mixed Bag

Posted on November 29, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

I’ve never been much of a code geek, but recently I’ve been studying the 2009 and 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC International Energy Conservation Code.) documents. When I was a contractor, energy code enforcement by building officials was pretty much nonexistent, so I didn’t pay much attention to the specifics, although I’m fairly certain we met or exceeded the minimum requirements in our projects.

Historic Preservation and Green Renovation

Posted on November 17, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

At a recent round-table meeting on sustainable historic preservation, I was struck by how much alignment there is between preservation and green renovation. Now, green renovation is a wide and diverse field, and some of the deep energy retrofit people probably don’t have the same opinion on sustainable preservation standards as I do, but disagreements just help to keep things interesting and further the conversation.

The Piecemeal Approach to Green Building

Posted on November 8, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor

Almost every time I am talking with someone about green building, whether a potential or current client, or just a casual conversation, inevitably solar power comes up. This causes me to go into full on curmudgeon mode, pointing out that solar panels are pretty much pointless on homes until you’ve done everything else you can to make it more efficient and healthy. Solar is hot, trendy, hip, something you can touch (and might want to touch, as opposed to insulation), and a marketer’s dream, as are many other building products, all of which are seem to be labeled “green.”

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.

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