Guest Blogs

Are Energy-Saving Settings Bad for the Environment?

Posted on June 30, 2016 by Anonymous

By PETER FAIRLEY

Volkswagen’s deceptive engine controls, uncovered last year, gave its cars a dual personality: one for everyday operation and a secret greener one used to rank higher than warranted on vehicle emissions tests. Regulators in the U.S. and Europe are now examining whether some television manufacturers similarly misbehaved, programming their screens to detect a standard video test clip, dial down their brightness and thus cheat on energy consumption tests.

The Case Against More Ethanol

Posted on June 28, 2016 by Anonymous

Editor's note: This is a rebuttal to “The Case for More Ethanol,” a guest blog published at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com on June 27, 2016.

The Case for More Ethanol

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Timothy Wirth and C. Boyden Gray

For almost as long as there have been cars, gasoline has been the dominant fuel in transportation. But for a host of reasons — environmental, climate change, public health, and economic — the time has come to consider mixing higher blends of biofuels with gasoline. And in the United States, the best source for that biofuel today, surprisingly, is corn.

Why Is the U.S. Unwilling to Pay for Good Public Transportation?

Posted on June 23, 2016 by John Rennie Short

Officials in Washington, D.C., say they may have to shut down portions of the Metro subway system for months because its piecemeal approach to maintenance is no longer sufficient.

The disclosure follows a shutdown of the entire Metro system on March 16 for 24 hours. Three-quarters of a million people use the system each weekday, so the inconvenience and cost were considerable.

The reason: frayed electrical cables discovered in at least 26 locations that posed an immediate danger. Closing the Metro was probably the safest thing to do.

Is Nuclear Power Our Energy Future or a Dinosaur?

Posted on June 22, 2016 by Dave Levitan

Nuclear power is dead. Long live nuclear power. Nuclear power is the only way forward. Nuclear power is a red herring. Nuclear power is too dangerous. Nuclear power is the safest power source around. Nuclear is nothing. Nuclear is everything.

What’s Wrong With Shipping Container Housing? Everything.

Posted on June 21, 2016 by Mark Hogan

What’s wrong with shipping container buildings? Nothing, if they’re used for the right purpose.

For a temporary facility, where an owner desires the shipping container aesthetic, they can be a good fit. (Look, I’ve even done a container project!) For sites where on-site construction is not feasible or desirable, fitting a container out in the factory can be a sensible option, even though you’ll still have to do things like pour foundations on site. It probably won’t save you any money over conventional construction (and very well might cost more), but it can solve some other problems.

Can Low-Income Housing Be Energy-Efficient and Affordable?

Posted on June 16, 2016 by Sophia V. Schweitzer

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, the local housing commission is completing floor-by-floor renovations in the five-story Baker Commons public housing facility with the goal of reducing energy use at least 20%. In Pittsburgh, Uptown Lofts — affordable housing opened in February 2015 by the nonprofit ACTION-Housing Inc.

Siding and Soffits at the Blue Heron EcoHaus

Posted on June 14, 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 Placing the Concrete Floors. The blog below was originally published in August 2015. (A complete list of Kent Earle's GBA blogs is provided in the “Related articles” sidebar below.)

Reducing Concrete’s Hefty Carbon Footprint

Posted on June 13, 2016 by Nate Berg

A roomful of materials scientists, gathered at UCLA for a recent conference on “grand challenges in construction materials,” slowly passed a brick-size white block around the room. They held in their hands, briefly, part of the solution to one of those grand challenges. The white block, rock solid and surprisingly lightweight, was a new alternative to cement, the glue that holds together aggregate, or crushed rock, to make the world’s most ubiquitous building material: concrete.

The Uneven Burden of Energy Costs

Posted on June 9, 2016 by Khalil Shahyd

A new study confirms that low-income households, households of color, multifamily households, and renting households spend a much larger percentage of their income on energy bills than the average family, providing new evidence of the urgent need to expand energy-efficiency programs to vulnerable communities.

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