Green Building News

Meet Saskatchewan’s First Passivhaus

Posted on February 8, 2016 by Scott Gibson

At first, the owners of the single-family home at 1102 Temperance Street simply requested the removal of an unwanted balcony.

But renovations often wander in unexpected directions, and by the time the dust settles sometime later this year, Jim Spinney and Holly Ann Knott should have the first certified 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. home in the province of Saskatchewan.

The owners of the 1940s house on Saskatoon's east side may have had more modest ambitions at the start, but they weren't counting on the extensive structural decay that their builder, Robin Adair, uncovered as he took the balcony apart.

Net-Metering Survives California Test

Posted on February 4, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Retail net-metering for residential solar systems is under siege in some states, on the chopping block in Nevada and eliminated altogether in Hawaii. But California utility regulators have voted to keep it, a victory for both installers and retail customers.

PV Magazine reports the 3-2 vote last week was a rejection of efforts by state utilities to lower compensation rates for electricity generated by residential systems.

Nevada Net-Metering Regs Are Still in a State of Flux

Posted on February 3, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Solar installers and the 17,000 customers who already own or lease 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 were furious when state regulators decided to apply new net-metering rules to both new and existing systems. Now, NV Energy, the utility on the winning side of that unpopular decision, wants a do-over.

The state's Public Utilities Commission has set a hearing date of February 8 to consider evidence on the utility's request to grandfather existing solar customers and allow them to keep the original terms of their agreements for as long as 20 years.

GE Jumps Ship on Compact Fluorescents

Posted on February 2, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Some consumers never warmed up to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), no matter how many energy advantages they had over old fashioned incandescents. Now, GE is agreeing with them.

In a post, the company said it would stop making CFLs for the U.S. market and concentrate its efforts for consumer lighting on LED lamps.

Nest Glitch Leaves Some Homeowners Cold

Posted on January 29, 2016 by Scott Gibson

The Nest Learning Thermostat lets homeowners control temperatures remotely via an internet connection, the same feature making automatic software updates possible. But an update in December came with a bug that caused some thermostats to malfunction two weeks later, in some cases turning off the heat in the middle of the night.

Houses Are Getting Bigger and Pricier

Posted on January 28, 2016 by Scott Gibson

The average size of a new house rose to 2,720 square feet last year, an increase of about 2% from a year earlier, and higher prices are making it more difficult for first-time buyers to afford a new home.

Small-Scale Wind Hopes to Follow Solar’s Footsteps

Posted on January 25, 2016 by Scott Gibson

United Wind is hoping to do for small-scale wind what third-party installers already have done for solar.

Where the Solar Bargains Are

Posted on January 22, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Arizona are among the states where buyers are most likely to find the best bargains on small-scale 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.) systems, according to a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).

Published this month, the study was aimed at identifying the characteristics of low-priced PV systems. "Ultimately," the authors asked, "what can be done to reproduce or facilitate those conditions more broadly to drive down U.S. PV system prices?"

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