Green Building News

Building a House of Hemp

Posted on May 4, 2016 by Scott Gibson

An upstate New York resident named Jim Savage has launched a web-based campaign to raise $60,000 and build a demonstration house with walls of hemp, lime, and water, advancing what Savage calls “the next step in green building.”

In a Kickstarter campaign that so far has attracted more than 90 donors, Savage lays out the case for choosing hemp over more conventional building materials, a technique he says has been used successfully in Europe for 25 years.

Texas Team Wins Net Zero Competition

Posted on May 2, 2016 by Scott Gibson

A group of architecture students from Prairie View A&M University has won top honors in this year's Department of Energy Race to Zero student competition with an affordable home designed for a Houston, Texas, neighborhood.

TimberSIL May Live to See Another Day

Posted on April 28, 2016 by Scott Gibson

The long, tortured history of TimberSIL treated lumber may get even longer.

A New York investment firm specializing in buying the assets of distressed companies has taken over rights to TimberSIL and hopes to resume manufacturing the lumber as early as this year, according to a principal in the firm. The development was first reported by Environmental Building News.

Foamglas Exits U.S. Residential Market

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Pittsburgh Corning has pulled the plug on Foamglas sales in the North American residential market as it concentrates on developing business elsewhere.

Foamglas, a cellular glass material developed by Pittsburgh Corning in the 1930s, has a lower environmental impact than rigid foam insulation, making it an appealing alternative. Made entirely of glass, the material didn't need dangerous fire retardants, can be manufactured without the blowing agents that cause global warming and ozone depletion, and had a number of attractive performance characteristics.

Energy Bill Earns Both Praise and Scorn

Posted on April 22, 2016 by Scott Gibson

UPDATED on April 22

A Passivhaus Multifamily in Maine Nears Completion

Posted on April 20, 2016 by Scott Gibson

It goes without saying that designing a 54,000-square-foot apartment building to meet certification requirements of the 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 U.S. isn’t something you do at the last minute. Except that’s more or less what happened after Gunnar Hubbard took Erin Cooperrider out to lunch.

Steve Bluestone’s Building Science Lab

Posted on April 19, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Steve Bluestone, the New York real estate developer with a special interest in a building material that most builders ignore, is about to embark on a self-financed experiment that will test the effectiveness of high-mass walls in a cold climate.

Bluestone last year built a house in Hillsdale, New York, with autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC). The blocks, produced by a single manufacturer in the U.S., are lighter than conventional concrete blocks and better thermal insulators. A few high-performance builders use them, but most do not. Bluenose thought they deserved a try.

Study Finds EPA Lax in Protecting California Water

Posted on April 15, 2016 by Scott Gibson

A federal review says that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is failing to protect underground water supplies from oilfield wastewater contamination, The Associated Press reports.

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