Guest Blogs

Air Sealing and Insulation in the ProHOME

Posted on April 24, 2017 by Mike Guertin

Editor's note: This post originally was published as part of the ProHOME series at Fine Homebuilding magazine. Mike Guertin, an editorial adviser at the magazine, is building the house in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Energy Star Delivers Big for America: Why Put It at Risk?

Posted on April 20, 2017 by Noah Horowitz

Imagine owning a brand that’s both well-known and widely trusted by consumers and businesses all over America. Now imagine that it turns a $50 million annual investment into $30+ billion worth of annual customer utility bill savings, and has resulted in branded sales of more than 5 billion products since its inception. That’s one heck of a rate of return and a brand that any CEO would die for.

Urban Rustic: An Introduction to a New Passive House Project

Posted on April 18, 2017 by Eric Whetzel

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of posts by Eric Whetzel about the design and construction of his house in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Eric's blog is called Kimchi & Kraut.

Trump Budget Threatens to Leave Poor Families in the Cold

Posted on April 13, 2017 by Anonymous

By KHALIL SHAHYD

When her furnace started acting up, Alicia Dickenson knew her family had a problem. “I’m not going to have money for a new furnace,” the Ohio resident told her local paper. “How am I going to make it through the next winter?” When Dickenson found out that she qualified for home weatherization — including an upgraded, more efficient furnace — her relief was immense. “Huge,” she said.

No Reason to Delay Efficiency Standards

Posted on April 11, 2017 by Anonymous

By LAUREN URBANEK

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOEUnited States Department of Energy.) issued delay notices in mid-March for two energy efficiency standards and three test procedures, which does nothing but create uncertainty for manufacturers and industry where there should be none. Taken together, these standards (including the standards supported by the test procedures) will save consumers more than $28 billion over 30 years of product shipments.

Toronto Passive: Some Thoughts on Drainwater Heat Recovery

Posted on April 10, 2017 by Lyndon Than

Editor's Note: Lyndon Than is a professional engineer and 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. Consultant who took a year off from work to design and build a home with his wife Phi in North York, a district of Toronto, Ontario. A list of Lyndon's previous blogs at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com appears in the sidebar below. For more, you can follow his blog, Passive House Toronto.

Does Green Energy Have Hidden Health and Environmental Costs?

Posted on April 6, 2017 by Anonymous

By EDGAR HERTWICH, ANDERS ARVESEN, SANGWON SUH, and THOMAS GIBON

There are a number of available low-carbon technologies to generate electricity. But are they really better than fossil fuels and nuclear power?

To answer that question, one needs to compare not just the emissions of different power sources but also the health benefits and the threats to ecosystems of green energy.

Why We Still Need to Discuss Grid Defection

Posted on April 5, 2017 by Anonymous

By JAMES MANDEL, MARK DYSON, and TODD ZERANSKI

The rapidly declining costs of distributed energy resources (DERs), including rooftop photovoltaics (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.) and behind-the-meter batteries, have introduced new dynamics into a traditionally slow-moving electricity industry. This paradigm shift has ushered us into a new era where previous assumptions about how, where, and at what scale electricity is best generated, transmitted, and distributed may no longer hold.

Just Say No to (Swiss) Cheesy Attic Floors

Posted on April 4, 2017 by Greg Labbe

As the biting cold of winter hit the Great Lakes area last December, many building owners started to see signs of moisture damage on parts of their walls and ceilings. As we keep indoor temperatures consistent while the outdoor temperature drops, the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures (the ole’ Delta T, as they call it) becomes greater. This difference pushes indoor air upward; if there are leaks in the ceiling, the air goes up and out and into the cold attic space. That’s the stack effectAlso referred to as the chimney effect, this is one of three primary forces that drives air leakage in buildings. When warm air is in a column (such as a building), its buoyancy pulls colder air in low in buildings as the buoyant air exerts pressure to escape out the top. The pressure of stack effect is proportional to the height of the column of air and the temperature difference between the air in the column and ambient air. Stack effect is much stronger in cold climates during the heating season than in hot climates during the cooling season. — slightly less powerful than the force Darth Vader uses, but equally nefarious.

Airport House: Heating and Cooling

Posted on March 30, 2017 by Reid Baldwin

Editor’s note: This is one of a series of guest blogs by Reid Baldwin about the construction of his house in Linden, Michigan. You can read his entire blog here.

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