Musings of an Energy Nerd

Is Your Ventilation System Working?

Posted on April 15, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

What’s a “faith-based ventilation system”? It’s a ventilation system installed by a contractor who never verifies the air flow rates after the equipment is installed.

So, will this type of ventilation system work? It’s hard to say — because no one measured anything.

Managing Lead Paint Hazards

Posted on April 8, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

About 37 million American homes and apartments have some interior lead paint on walls and woodwork. Any house built before 1978 — the year when most types of lead paint were withdrawn from the market in the U.S. — may contain lead paint. If lead paint is present on friction surfaces (for example, window sash), or if any lead paint is flaking or deteriorated, any children under the age of 6 or pregnant women who live in the house are at risk.

Two Wingnuts Describe Their Backyard Tape Tests

Posted on April 1, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Regular visitors to GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com probably know that I’m a big fan of backyard product tests. (In the past, I’ve reported on my tape tests, flexible flashing tests, and liquid-applied flashing tests.) So when I noticed that Peter Yost and Dave Gauthier would be giving a presentation titled “Sticky Business: Tape Testing, Round Two” at the BuildingEnergy 16 conference in Boston, I showed up early to make sure I got a good seat.

How to Insulate an Attic Floor

Posted on March 25, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Maybe you are building a new home with an unconditioned vented attic. The house is framed, sheathed, and roofed. The drywall contractors have finished their work, so now you’re ready to insulate the attic floor.

If you are an owner-builder, this may be the first time you’ve done this. So what do you need to know?

Plan Ahead For Insulation

Posted on March 18, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

For decades, designers and builders of wood-framed homes didn’t spend much time thinking about insulation. The usual approach — still followed in much of the U.S. — was to fill the stud bays with fiberglass batts, and, once the ceiling drywall was installed, to unroll some fiberglass insulation in the attic.

Because of this decades-long legacy, it’s not unusual for a designer, builder, or homeowner to post the following question on Green Building Advisor: “We just finished framing, installing windows, and roofing. Now we have a few questions about the best way to insulate.”

All About Indoor Air Quality

Posted on March 11, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Many owners of green homes are concerned about indoor air quality. GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com often receives questions from homeowners who worry that some building materials emit dangerous chemicals. For example:

  • Will the glue in my plywood or OSB subfloor emit dangerous fumes?
  • Will borateBoron-containing chemical that provides fire resistance to materials such as cellulose insulation and provides decay and termite resistance to wood products. Borate is derived from the mineral borax and is benign, compared with most other wood treatments.-treated cellulose insulationThermal insulation made from recycled newspaper or other wastepaper; often treated with borates for fire and insect protection. off-gas enough to affect the health of my children?
  • What type of clothes dryer is best from the perspective of indoor air quality?

Tales From Armenia

Posted on March 4, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

In this week’s blog, I’m going to take a break from building science. Instead of providing advice to green builders, I’m simply going to reminisce about my time as a construction volunteer in Armenia.

Combining Exterior Rigid Foam With Fluffy Insulation

Posted on February 26, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

It’s becoming increasingly common for builders to install one or more layers of rigid foam on the exterior side of wall sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. and roof sheathing. Typically, these walls and roofs also include some type of air-permeable insulation (fiberglass, cellulose, or mineral wool) between the studs or rafters.

How to Design a Wall

Posted on February 19, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Builders love to talk about walls. Almost all of us are willing to argue about the best way to build a high-R wall, and we love to debate whether certain wall details are environmentally friendly enough to be considered “green.”

Although these conversations can be fun, our obsession with wall details is often misplaced. Details that inflame our passions are often irrelevant. In most cases, we should just choose a relatively airtight easy-to-build wall with good flashing details — one with an R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. in the range of R-20 to R-40 — and be done with it.

Insulating Walls in an Old House With No Sheathing

Posted on February 12, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

When the owners of an old wood-framed building say that they’re doing a “gut rehab job,” that usually means that they’re demolishing the lath-and-plaster walls to expose the studs — the first step of renovation work that usually includes new wiring, new plumbing, and new insulation.

Register for a free account and join the conversation


Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!

Syndicate content