Green Building News

Europe Drives Up Demand for U.S. Wood Pellets

Posted on February 24, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Six millions tons of wood pellets manufactured from trees harvested in the U.S. were shipped to Europe last year to help utilities there meet renewable energy goals, but a growing number of environmentalists say that the program does more harm than good.

Solar Hits a Wall in Massachusetts

Posted on February 23, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Incentives that have played a major role in the rapid increase of 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 in Massachusetts are nearing their limits, cutting the financial return on solar projects while state legislators contemplate their next move, The Boston Globe reports.

Vera Novak Dies at 55

Posted on February 14, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Longtime GBA blogger Vera Novak died on January 28, 2016, after a prolonged battle with cancer. We will miss her.

Novak, a champion of women in the field of construction and green building practices, received a Masters of Science degree in Building Construction Science in 2011 from Virginia Tech. A year later, she received her PhD in Environmental Design and Planning from the same institution.

GBA introduced Novak to our readers in a 2011 article, "Blog Review: Eco Build Trends Blog."

Over the past four years, GBA published 12 blogs by Novak:

    An Overlooked Building Material Finds a New Booster

    Posted on February 12, 2016 by Scott Gibson

    Autoclaved aerated concrete is an unusual building material with properties that should make it a hit in residential construction — it's a much better thermal insulator than ordinary concrete, while lightweight, easy to work with and resistant to fire, insects and mold. The only problem is that U.S. builders can't seem to warm up to it.

    NESEA’s BuildingEnergy Conference Set for March

    Posted on February 10, 2016 by Scott Gibson

    BuildingEnergy 16, this year's edition of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association's annual conference on high-performance building, is scheduled to take place March 8 through 10 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.

    NESEANorth East Sustainable Energy Association. A regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA is committed to advancing three core elements: sustainable solutions, proven results and cutting-edge development in the field. States included in this region stretch from Maine to Maryland. www.nesea.org expects some 3,500 sustainable building pros from 32 states and eight countries to attend the conference, a highlight on the association's annual calendar and a draw for builders and designers from all over the Northeast. The trade show will include some 150 exhibitors with products and services used in high-performance building.

    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.

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