Green Building News

U.S. Lags in Energy Efficiency

Posted on July 21, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The United States does less to conserve energy than most of the world's largest economies and is putting itself at a competitive disadvantage because of it, a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says.

The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard measured efficiency efforts in the world's 16 largest economies that together account for 81% of global gross domestic product and 71% of the global consumption of electricity.

Maine Utility Drops Bid for Solar Charges

Posted on July 18, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Maine's largest electric utility has agreed to a new rate plan that would add $3 to an average residential power bill while dropping a controversial proposal to charge homeowners with photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) arrays a monthly "standby rate."

Registration Is Open for Maine Passive House Conference

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The North American Passive HouseA 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. Network has opened registration and announced its schedule of seminars and events for the 2014 Conference and Expo in Portland, Maine, in September. (This Maine conference is not to be confused with the 9th Annual North American Passive House Conference in San Francisco, which is organized by Passive House Institute U.S.)

Another Spray Foam Fire?

Posted on July 16, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Investigators in Middlebury, Connecticut, are looking into a possible connection between a fire that destroyed a 10,700-square-foot home and the application the same day of spray-foam insulation in a low-ceilinged attic.

Brad Pitt’s Foundation Plans a Project in Montana

Posted on July 15, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Brad Pitt's Make It Right foundation will try to make a dent this year in a housing shortage at Fort Peck, a 2-million-acre Native American reservation in Montana where housing is in such short supply that some families sleep in shifts.

The actor's foundation, which got its start constructing 150 houses in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina clobbered the city's Lower Ninth Ward, will start on 20 LEEDLeadership 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. -Platinum homes later this year. The foundation also helped fund projects in Newark and Kansas City.

More Information on the Passive House Conference in San Francisco

Posted on July 14, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Passive HouseA 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. Institute US has posted its list of programs for the 9th Annual North American Passive House Conference in San Francisco in September.

The conference, which runs from Sept. 10 through Sept. 14, opens with a keynote address by researcher and author William Rose on Sept. 12 before breaking into a number of separate discussions on narrowly focused topics.

Government Test House Hits Net-Zero Target

Posted on July 10, 2014 by Scott Gibson

An experimental house in Gaithersburg, Maryland, built by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) completed its first year of operation July 1 with a surplus of electricity. The house is equipped with a 10.2-kW photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) array.

According to the government agency, which completed the 2,700-square-foot house last year, the surplus amounted to 491 kWh of electricity, which a NIST news release said was enough to power an electric car for 1,440 miles.

Vermont Utility Seeks a New Solar Fee

Posted on July 8, 2014 by Scott Gibson

UPDATED July 11, 2014

An electric co-op in Vermont has joined the ranks of utilities around the country seeking regulatory approval to add fees for their customers who have rooftop photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) installations.

Washington Electric Co-op wants to make changes to its net-metering program that would include a grid service fee of 4.63 cents per kilowatt hour for new net-metered customers. The co-op which serves about 10,500 residential and business customers in a three-county region in north-central Vermont.

Multifamily Passivhaus Project Starts in Oregon

Posted on July 3, 2014 by Scott Gibson

A multifamily residential housing project in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, will become the country's largest 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. project should it win certification sometime next year. The 57-unit affordable housing project is being built by Walsh Construction Company.

A New Life For an Old Landfill

Posted on July 1, 2014 by Scott Gibson

For 23 years, the landfill in Scituate, Massachusetts, accepted municipal solid waste, construction debris, and residue from a nearby wastewater treatment plant. When the dump was finally capped in 2000, the city faced the same problem that a lot of communities do as they convert landfills into transfer stations: Just how could this piece of land be put to good use?

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