Guest Blogs

Installing Windows in a Minnesota House

Posted on April 28, 2016 by Elden Lindamood

This is the third installment of a blog series by architect Elden Lindamood about the design and construction of his own home. The first installment was called A Low-Energy House for Northern Minnesota.

As Electric Cars Stall, A Move to Greener Trucks and Buses

Posted on April 27, 2016 by Cheryl Katz

The clang of garbage cans will still probably wake people way too early in the morning. But in Santa Rosa, California, at least, the roaring diesel engine will be quiet, replaced by a silent, electric motor.

Compartmentalization in Multifamily Buildings

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Sean Maxwell

At some point in our lives, we’ve all been in an apartment building or a hotel and smelled cigarette smoke or cooking odors from a neighbor. Or maybe you’ve heard an argument (or other things) going on next door that you didn’t want to hear. Let’s face it: living in apartment buildings is not without annoyances.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to alleviate some of these problems: by sealing up the gaps in the walls between apartments. This is “compartmentalization.”

A New Strategy for Drought-Stressed Cities

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Sybil Sharvelle

Many regions of the United States are struggling with water shortages. Large areas of the West are contending with moderate to severe drought, while California is now in the fifth year of one of the most extreme droughts in its history. Even non-arid regions, such as the Southeast, are not exempt from water shortages. At the same time, rapid population growth is increasing water demand in many of the nation’s most water-scarce regions, including California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

A Lesson From the Kranichstein Passive House

Posted on April 23, 2016 by Bronwyn Barry

The global 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. community is converging on Darmstadt, Germany, this week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Kranichstein Passive House and the 20th anniversary of the International Passive House Conference.

Blue Heron EcoHaus: Dealing With Really Bad Water

Posted on April 21, 2016 by Kent Earle

Editor's note: Kent Earle and his wife, Darcie, write a blog called Blue Heron EcoHaus, documenting their journey “from urbanites to ruralites” and the construction of a superinsulated house on the Canadian prairies. Their previous blog on GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com was called Making an ICF Foundation. The blog below was originally published in June 2015. (A complete list of Kent Earle's GBA blogs is provided in the “Related articles” sidebar below.)

Getting to Zero Waste

Posted on April 19, 2016 by Steven Cohen

One of the goals of a sustainable city is to effectively manage material flows into and out of the city. Garbage, or what environmental engineers call solid waste, presents some of the most difficult challenges to urban sustainability.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Dana Dorsett

Your old furnace or boiler is gasping its last breath and it’s time to pull the trigger on something newer, more reliable, and more efficient. How do you quickly size the new equipment?

If you leave the sizing calculations to HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. contractors, most would replace the old furnace with equipment that has a comparable output rating. That would guarantee that you wouldn’t get cold, but at least 19 times out of 20, that would be a mistake.

Regulating Rain Barrels Is Not the Best Idea

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Adell Amos

Many of us never think about who gets to use the drops of rain that fall from the sky. But it’s an increasingly pertinent question as more people look to collect rainwater as a way to conserve water, live off the grid, or save money on water bills.

As a result, many states in the arid West are now asking whether rain barrels are allowed under existing law and policy and, in some cases, are setting limits on the practice of rainwater catchment.

The Downside of Low Gas Prices

Posted on April 13, 2016 by John DeCicco

Retail gasoline prices are now as low as they were in the “roaring ‘90s.” The 1990s, that is, when the energy crisis of the 1970s had faded from American consumers’ memories, the economy was strong and the market share of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) had more than tripled over the decade.

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