Guest Blogs

Measuring Passive House Energy Performance

Posted on August 22, 2017 by Katrin Klingenberg

After a period of growth in the '70s and '80s, and a brief hiatus in the '90s, passive building principles and metrics are making an impressive comeback in North America. Passive principles were developed 40-plus years ago by pioneers including William Shurcliff, Rob Dumont, and Joe Lstiburek — to mention just a few. Today, these principles are broadly seen as critical for a renewable energy future.

Stranded In Our Own Communities

Posted on August 17, 2017 by Anonymous

By JUNFENG JIAO and NICOLE McGRATH

As any commuter who has experienced unreliable service or lives miles away from a bus stop will tell you, sometimes public transit isn’t really a viable option, even in major cities.

In our car-loving society, where 85% of Americans use a car to get to work, people who cannot access transportation are excluded from their own communities and trapped inside “transit deserts.” This term, which one of us (Junfeng Jiao) coined, describes areas in a city where demand for transit is high but supply is low.

To Net Zero and Beyond

Posted on August 15, 2017 by Anonymous

By SHILPA SANKARAN

Last month, we at the Net-Zero Energy Coalition (NZEC) published our second annual inventory of zero energy (ZE) residential buildings in the U.S. and Canada, titled “To Zero and Beyond: 2016 Residential Zero Energy Buildings Study.”

Prior to our first inventory report, existing data on residential zero energy was spotty. We believed it was crucial for us to quantify the current state and track progress in order to truly understand the reality of the zero energy movement.

Urban Rustic: Kneewalls, Subfloor, and Exterior Walls

Posted on August 14, 2017 by Eric Whetzel

Editor's note: This post is one of a series by Eric Whetzel about the design and construction of his house in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The first blog in his series was called An Introduction to a New Passive House Project; a list of Eric's previous posts appears below. For more details, see Eric's blog, Kimchi & Kraut.

Fusing Green and Universal Design

Posted on August 10, 2017 by Rosemarie Rossetti

On June 13, 1998, my husband, Mark Leder, and I went for a bicycle ride on a rural wooded trail in Granville, Ohio. After riding for a few minutes, Mark thought he heard a gunshot and slowed down to investigate. As he scanned the scene he saw a large tree falling. He shouted, “Stop!” But the warning was too late. I was crushed by a 7,000-pound tree and paralyzed from the waist down.

The Airport House: Measuring Results

Posted on August 8, 2017 by Reid Baldwin

Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of guest blogs by Reid Baldwin about the construction of his house in Linden, Michigan. For a list of previous blog posts on GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com by Reid Baldwin, see the “Related Articles” sidebar below. You can read his entire blog here.

How New Technologies Are Shrinking Wastewater’s Hefty Carbon Footprint

Posted on August 3, 2017 by Erica Gies

Wastewater treatment plants are energy hogs. A 2013 study by the Electric Power Research Institute and Water Research Foundation reported that they consumed about 30 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or about 0.8 percent of the total electricity used in the United States.

The Next Step in Sustainable Design

Posted on August 2, 2017 by Kevin Nute

A building’s primary purpose may be to keep the weather out, but most do such an effective job of this that they also inadvertently deprive us of contact with two key requirements for our well-being and effectiveness: nature and change.

Wolfe Island Passive: A Performance Report

Posted on August 1, 2017 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. For a list of earlier posts in this series, see the sidebar below.

Could a Grenfell Tower Fire Happen Here?

Posted on July 31, 2017 by Brian Meacham

The Grenfell Tower fire in London has triggered questions about how the tragedy could have happened, whether it could happen elsewhere, and what might be learned from it to prevent future disasters. As a professor of fire protection engineering, I know that the answers are not simple, and the fixes not quick.

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