Green Building News

Eco-Friendly Palo Alto Ups the Ante

Posted on April 27, 2015 by Scott Gibson

The city council in Palo Alto, California, has adopted new measures aimed at making the community more aggressive than the state as a whole in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting green building.

Two days before this year's observance of Earth Day, councilors adopted an energy code ordinance that would make new residential and commercial projects 15 percent more efficient than current state targets, Palo Alto online reported.

Wastewater Disposal Linked to Earthquakes

Posted on April 24, 2015 by Scott Gibson

For years, Oklahoma officially didn't connect the underground disposal of huge amounts of wastewater from oil and gas wells and a mushrooming number of earthquakes that caused millions of dollars in damages. That's just changed.

The state's energy and environment office has unveiled a new website cataloging the rising number of earthquakes and attributing a majority of them in central and north-central Oklahoma to the injection of wastewater into disposal wells.

Seattle Gets a Passivhaus Townhouse

Posted on April 21, 2015 by Scott Gibson

The Seattle developer who built the city's first single-family PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. has completed construction of "View Haus 5," a five-unit townhouse project that includes one unit built to the Passivhaus standard.

It would be the first townhouse in the city to earn Passivhaus certification. The builder is Cascade Built, whose owner, Sloan Ritchie, built "Park Passive," a three-story home that was completed in 2013.

Arizona Bans Ban on Bags

Posted on April 20, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Arizona has become the first state in the country to prohibit taxes or prohibitions on plastic bags and other containers.

Republican Governor Douglas Ducey on April 13 signed legislation forbidding any Arizona company from regulating the "sale, use or disposition of auxiliary containers," including single-use plastic bags, foam containers, boxes, cans, and bottles, according to an article in Plastic News.

Web Giants Look to Home Services Market

Posted on April 17, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Installing new faucets, fixing balky electrical switches, and a variety of other routine household chores are part of a giant home services market that could be worth more than $400 billion and an area of growing interest for big internet powers like Google and Amazon.

That's the gist of an article published on April 12, 2015 in The New York Times.

More Bad News for Lumber Liquidators

Posted on April 15, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Accused of selling Chinese-made flooring that gives off dangerous levels of formaldehydeChemical found in many building products; most binders used for manufactured wood products are formaldehyde compounds. Reclassified by the United Nations International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2004 as a “known human carcinogen.", Lumber Liquidators offered free test kits to any consumer who requested one so homeowners could check for themselves whether the air inside their homes was safe to breathe.

But a lawsuit filed in California claims the test kits are provided by a third party paid by the retailer, do not use commonly accepted methods, and are basically faulty.

U.S. Government Offers Buzzword Alternatives

Posted on April 10, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Builders who specialize in net-zero, PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates., or other types of high-performance houses may like nothing better than explaining the advantages of their approach, but lots of prospective customers apparently have no idea what they're talking about.

"Sure, it’s second nature for builders, architects and remodelers to talk about advanced framingHouse-framing techniques in which lumber use is optimized, saving material and improving the energy performance of the building envelope. and net-zero homes as if those terms are equally familiar to their customers," Sharon O'Malley wrote in a recent post at ConstructionDive.

Is Water Consumption a Class Issue?

Posted on April 9, 2015 by Scott Gibson

By now, most everyone in the country has heard at least something about California's serious water shortage: the snow pack is paper thin, reservoirs are way down, and the governor has ordered a 25 percent cut in consumption.

Georgia Lawmakers OK Third-Party Solar Leasing

Posted on April 8, 2015 by Scott Gibson

In Georgia, lawmakers have approved a bill that for the first time will allow homeowners and businesses to lease photovoltaic (PV) systems rather than forcing them to buy the systems outright, according to published reports.

The Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act is designed to lower financial barriers that prevent some homeowners from adding solar, the website UtilityDive reports.

Coal Is No Boon for U.S. Treasury, Report Says

Posted on April 7, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Although blamed for a variety of environmental ills, coal remains an important source of revenue for the U.S. government through bonus and royalty payments from the companies that mine it on federally owned land. Earnings, however, fall well short of what's required by law, according to a report from Headwaters Economics.

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