Green Building News

Big German Passivhaus Project Hits Energy Target

Posted on September 8, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Germany's 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. Institut (PHI) says an entire housing district in the city of Heidelberg has met the stringent heat-energy requirements of the Passivhaus building standard, demonstrating the standard can be deployed on a large scale.

Measured energy consumption in the 1,260 housing units in 2014 averaged 14.9 kWh per square meter, a whisker under the 15 kWh/m2a standard required for Passivhaus certification. The units totaled more than 75,000 square meters (807,000 square feet).

Building Monitoring Software Offered for Free

Posted on September 7, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Software developed by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation allows building owners and managers to track everything from real-time energy use to indoor temperatures and water consumption, and the system is being offered to anyone for free.

AHFC Building Monitoring is an application originally developed to find ways to reduce energy use and improve building maintenance, the agency's website says. And because it was created with public funds, its developers decided to offer it for free to anyone who wants it.

The 10th Annual North American Passive House Conference

Posted on September 4, 2015 by Katrin Klingenberg

This year PHIUS’s annual 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. conference turns ten years old. And what better place to celebrate than in Chicago! As Daniel Burnham said, “Make no little plans.” The conference is scheduled for September 9 - 13, 2015.

Clearly, the passive building community is now thinking big. Affordable multifamily passive buildings are in the spotlight this year. The program is bigger and better than ever. (Many thanks to the generous support of the conference from the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.)

LEDs Could Get A Lot Cheaper

Posted on September 3, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Researchers at Rutgers University have found a way to replace rare-earth elements in light-emitting diodes with much cheaper and more abundant materials. The cost of the new phosphor materials may be only 10% of the cost of rare-earth phosphors, according to a report published at Inside Climate News.

Video Gamers Could Save Billions in Energy Costs

Posted on September 2, 2015 by Scott Gibson

If the world's video game aficionados made a few changes in computer settings and swapped some components for more energy-efficient models they could save $18 billion a year in energy costs by 2020, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory say in a new report.

Workshops Set to Spur High-Performance Windows

Posted on August 31, 2015 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 (NAPHN) has announced three workshops in September aimed at helping manufacturers increase the development and production of climate-specific windows suitable for Passivhaus construction.

Workshops will take place in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 22; in Toronto on September 28; and in Vancouver, British Columbia, on September 30.

Cost of Installed Solar Continues to Fall

Posted on August 28, 2015 by Scott Gibson

The median installed cost of small 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 continues its downward march, with 2014 showing the fifth consecutive year of significant price reductions, according to an annual report from the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Finding the Small House Sweet Spot

Posted on August 27, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Judging by the constant stream of visitors to their fledgling housing development in Bridgton, Maine, developers Justin McIver and Mark Lopez think they've found just the right mix of energy efficiency, price, and amenities for older buyers.

Yet the first thing prospective buyers are likely to notice about these houses is their size. Unless buyers are just moving out of a New York City studio, these places will probably have a lot less square footage than what they're used to. Houses in the first "pod" of 10 units come in two sizes, 610 and 640 square feet.

A Green Guide for Native Americans

Posted on August 26, 2015 by Scott Gibson

Representatives of tribal nations and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have produced a guide designed to help tribal nations recreate the sustainable building practices that once were a hallmark of tribal housing.

Green Building Council Names Home of the Year

Posted on August 25, 2015 by Scott Gibson

The U.S. Green Building Council has selected a 3,400-square-foot house in Kailua, Hawaii, as its outstanding single-family LEED home of the year.

The LEED Gold house is the first in the state to be certified under the latest version of the LEED for HomesLeadership 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. program, and one of the earliest certified houses in the country, according to its builder, Mokulua High Performance Builder. It's also one of the first in the state to be certified under Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. version 3, Mokulua founder Michael Fairall said.

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