Guest Blogs

Is ‘Range Anxiety’ Really Justified?

Posted on September 22, 2016 by Anonymous

By JESSIKA TRANCIK

Electrifying transportation is one of the most promising ways to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, but so-called range anxiety — concern about being stranded with an uncharged car battery — remains a barrier to electric vehicle adoption. Is range anxiety justified given current cars and charging infrastructure?

It’s a question my research group and I addressed in a paper published in Nature Energy, by taking a close look at this problem with a new model.

Flood, Rebuild, Repeat: The Need for Flood Insurance Reform

Posted on September 20, 2016 by Anonymous

By LUCAS EASTMAN

Can you imagine living in a property that has flooded 10 times? How about 20 times? It’s hard to fathom enduring that kind of situation, yet owners of 2,109 properties across the United States experience just that. Not only has each of these properties flooded more than 10 times, but the National Flood Insurance Program has paid to rebuild them after each flood. One home in Batchelor, Louisiana, flooded 40 times and received a total of $428,379 in flood insurance payments.

Wolfe Island Passive House — An Introduction

Posted on September 19, 2016 by David Murakami Wood

Editor's note: David and Kayo Murakami Wood are building what they hope will be Ontario's first certified 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. on Wolfe Island, the largest of the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River. They are documenting their work at their blog, Wolfe Island Passive House. This post was originally published on July 2015; it is the first in a blog series that GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com will publish about the project.

Blue Heron Ecohaus: Adding it All Up, Part 3

Posted on September 15, 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. The blog below, originally published in April, is the last in GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com's series documenting the project, but there is still lots to read at their website. A complete list of Kent Earle's GBA blogs can be found below.

New Furnaces Will Be More Efficient

Posted on September 14, 2016 by Elizabeth Noll

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOEUnited States Department of Energy.) has released a revised and long-awaited proposed minimum efficiency standard for residential natural gas furnaces, which are found in about 40% of U.S. homes, making them the most prevalent heating equipment in America.

Another Solar Myth Bites the Dust

Posted on September 13, 2016 by Larry Weingarten

Zak Vetter contributed to this article, which originally appeared in Home Energy magazine. It is reprinted by permission.

Off-Grid in Canada: Choosing Efficient Appliances

Posted on September 8, 2016 by Craig Anderson

This is one of a series of posts by Craig Anderson describing the off-the-grid house he built with his wife France-Pascale Ménard near Low, Québec. Craig writes about the "Seven Hills Project" in a blog called Sunshine Saved. For a list of Craig's previous posts, see the list of "Blogs by Craig Anderson" in the sidebar below.

Will a Merged Tesla-SolarCity Put a Solar-Powered Battery in Every Home?

Posted on September 6, 2016 by Anonymous

By W. ROCKY NEWMAN

One year ago Tesla Motors announced plans to build its Gigafactory to produce huge numbers of batteries, giving life to the old saying, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”

By making electric car batteries that Tesla used to buy from others, CEO Elon Musk adopted a strategy made famous by Henry Ford – build a vertically integrated company that controls the many stages of production. By integrating “backward” into its supply chain, Musk is betting Tesla can improve the performance and lower the costs of batteries for its vehicles.

Solar Contagion and Lessons for Other Energy Upgrades

Posted on September 1, 2016 by Jacob Corvidae

Solar is spreading like a reinvented fire. See the dropping prices, technology improvements, and rapid growth curve in residential 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 over recent years. Witness the rapid expansion of our work with major companies across the world to purchase solar. Observe the growing and unwavering appeal of solar in, for example, the recent decision by MGM in Nevada to pay a fine rather than miss the opportunity to power up with solar. The fire spreads — and reaches a point where solar has become contagious.

Blue Heron EcoHaus: Adding it All Up, Part 2

Posted on August 31, 2016 by Kent Earle

In mid-November 2015, just before we moved into our new house, we were asked to be part 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. Days tour (a worldwide weekend of awareness of Passive House and energy-efficient building). Well, not “officially” — we were asked to be a part of the tour by the event organizer in Saskatchewan, who was the Passive House (PH) consultant on what should become the first certified PH in Saskatchewan. Even though we did not build a PH, we did follow the standards as closely as I could justify. From the beginning we were not pursuing certification.

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