Guest Blogs

CarMic House: Taming a Basement from Hell

Posted on March 13, 2017 by Carri Beer and Michael Hindle

Editor's note: Carri Beer and Michael Hindle are renovating a 1954 house in Catonsville, Maryland. Hindle is a 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 and owner of Passive to Positive. Beer is a registered architect who has been practicing sustainable architecture for 18 years. She is an associate principal with Brennan+Company Architects. For a list of the couple's posts, see the “Related Articles” sidebar below. This post was written by Carri Beer.

Airport House: Walls and Insulation

Posted on March 9, 2017 by Reid Baldwin

Editor’s note: This is the one of a series of guest blogs by Reid Baldwin about the construction of his house in Linden, Michigan. The first blog in the series was titled Energy Efficiency and Garage Space for an Airplane.

From Red List to Ready List

Posted on March 7, 2017 by Anonymous

By JONATHAN A. WRIGHT

One of the primary goals of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) is to eliminate the use of known toxins in products installed in the built environment. If it is harmful to life — human, animal or anything else — do not use it if at all possible.

In 2016, Wright Builders Inc. completed two Living Buildings, which will be evaluated for certification over the next 18 to 24 months. These projects gave us a unique opportunity to work inside the largely unexplored new world of materials research, vetting, documentation, and advocacy.

Toronto Passive: Removable Basement Floors

Posted on March 6, 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 below. For more, you can follow his blog, Passive House Toronto.

Understanding Home Energy Performance Will Become a Key to Real Estate Success

Posted on March 2, 2017 by Anonymous

By DOUGLAS MILLER

Real estate professionals play a pivotal role in the U.S. residential real estate market. Overseeing from start to finish the multiple steps and piles of paperwork involved with property transactions, they support both sellers moving forward with the next stage of their lives and buyers looking for a new place to call home. They provide trusted and influential guidance that affects the largest investment that most of us will ever make: our homes.

Breaking Down Gender Bias in the Construction Industry

Posted on March 1, 2017 by Anonymous

By KATE STEPHENSON

Wolfe Island Passive: Siding and a Porch

Posted on February 28, 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.

The Minergy House

Posted on February 20, 2017 by Marc Rosenbaum

The late 1970s were a vibrant time in solar-driven, energy-efficient housing, full of passion and innovation. The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEANorth East Sustainable Energy Association. A regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA is committed to advancing three core elements: sustainable solutions, proven results and cutting-edge development in the field. States included in this region stretch from Maine to Maryland. www.nesea.org) was founded in 1974, and members were in the thick of this experimentation.

Paving the Way for an Efficient Light Bulb in Every Socket

Posted on February 16, 2017 by Noah Horowitz

The U.S. Department of Energy has just updated and expanded its definition of what constitutes an everyday light bulb in our homes and businesses, paving the way for the Trump administration to implement the second phase of a bipartisan law signed by President George W. Bush to cut the energy waste of bulbs. Energy efficiency standards were sorely needed because the incandescent light bulb had not been significantly updated since the days of Thomas Edison, more than 125 years earlier.

The State of Our Union

Posted on February 14, 2017 by Elizabeth DiSalvo

I started to write this as a commentary regarding Martin Holladay’s review of Jacob Rascusin’s new book, Essential Building Science. But in doing so I realized that the direction of Martin’s critique opens the door to issues that I think our community really needs to discuss. So, I worked a little harder at putting my thoughts into some sort of logical and comprehensive order. Of course these are only my opinion.

The bottom line of this realization is that, as a group, we may want to consider two goals:

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