Green Building News

Passive House Building in the Digital Age

Posted on August 31, 2016 by Scott Gibson

The first components for prefabricated 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. homes are now rolling out the door of a small factory in Searsmont, Maine, where house building is sailing into the digital age.

RPA-Ecocor, the joint venture between Ecocor’s Christian Corson and architect Richard Pedranti, launched in June 2016 with 11 model home designs. It’s now producing wall sections for a Passive House that will be erected in the Albany, New York, area later this year.

SolarCity is Getting Into the Roofing Shingle Business

Posted on August 29, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Earlier this summer, Dow Chemical abandoned its building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roofing shingle business after a run of less than five years. SolarCity, the country's biggest solar installer, is betting that corner of the market still holds untapped potential.

In a conference call with financial analysts earlier this month, SolarCity Chairman Elon Musk disclosed that when the company's huge new manufacturing plant in Buffalo, New York, opens next year, the factory will produce BIPV shingles as well as conventional photovoltaic (PV) modules.

Couple Sacrifices Electricity in Smart Meter Dispute

Posted on August 24, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Assya and Mario Pascalev could easily have afforded the $14 month fee their local electric utility wanted in return for opting out of a smart meter installation at their Bethesda, Maryland, home. But the couple, both philosophy PhDs, have gone on a temporary protest and are sweating their way through the hottest time of the year without air conditioning or lights.

Green Seal Publishes a New Insulation Standard

Posted on August 22, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Green SealIndependent, nonprofit organization that certifies a variety of products as environmentally responsible based on established criteria. Certified products include coffee filters, air chillers, paints and coatings, papers and newsprint, various cleaning products and services, windows and doors, and lodging properties. Inc., a nonprofit certifier of green building products, has published a green standard for insulation, giving builders and homeowners the most comprehensive guide to date for choosing products with the lowest potential to damage human health and the environment.

New York Earmarks Millions for Efficient Building

Posted on August 17, 2016 by Scott Gibson

New York State has set aside $16 million to promote the design and construction of energy-efficient housing. The funds will advance Governor Andrew Cuomo's campaign to require 50% of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2030.

Manufactured Homes Will Get a New Energy Code

Posted on August 15, 2016 by Scott Gibson

New efficiency rules proposed for the nation's manufactured housing industry would reduce energy consumption by an estimated 27% and save homeowners thousands of dollars, according to a member of the committee that helped draft the plan.

A New Way to Train Home Performance Specialists

Posted on August 11, 2016 by Scott Gibson

EnergyLogic says that its web-based training for home performance pros is a switch from conventional classroom and online training methods and an alternative to the "death-by-PowerPoint" approach to education.

The free training program is designed for energy raters, remodelers, and home performance specialists. According to its developers, Game of Homes applies "gaming designs and concepts to learning scenarios that are interactive, engaging and entertaining."

Seniors Snap Up Houses Meant for Young Buyers

Posted on August 10, 2016 by Scott Gibson

After learning that seniors were buying nearly half of its housing intended for entry-level buyers, D.R. Horton said that it would develop age-restricted communities specifically for active adults seeking affordable, low-maintenance housing.

Cities Think Small to Ease the Housing Crunch

Posted on August 1, 2016 by Scott Gibson

San Francisco leaders are hoping that new regulations allowing landlords to turn garages, storage rooms, and utility rooms into pint-sized rental units may help ease a serious housing shortage.

Cross-Laminated Timber Condos Planned in Portland

Posted on July 27, 2016 by Scott Gibson

A Portland, Oregon, architectural firm is planning an eight-story condo building that would become the tallest structure in the country to be built with cross-laminated timber (CLT), an alternative to conventional steel-and-concrete construction.

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