Musings of an Energy Nerd

Sam Rashkin Announces New Energy Star Homes Specifications

Raising the Bar for Energy Star Homes

Posted on April 29, 2009 by Martin Holladay

Over a thousand home performance contractors, weatherization experts, HERS raters, and energy nerds are gathered in Kansas City, Missouri, this week to attend the ACI Home Performance conference (formerly known as the Affordable Comfort conference).

At one well-attended workshop, energy consultant Michael Blasnik and Shaun Hassel of Advanced Energy Corporation shared a roundup of data on the performance of Energy Star homes — data which are unlikely to be happily received at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Among the findings presented by Blasnik and Hassel:

    What Is Sustainable

    What Does ‘Sustainable’ Mean?

    Posted on April 23, 2009 by Martin Holladay

    In the U.S. and Canada, many residential builders use the word “sustainable” as a synonym for “green.” We hear about sustainable development, sustainable homes, and sustainable building products.

    Now that the word “sustainable” has become ubiquitous — even at the GreenBuildingAdvisor Web site, where a new $736,000 home on the coast of Maine is described as a “sustainable spec house” — it’s time to take a step back and consider the word’s history.

    Forgotten Pioneers of Energy Efficiency

    Posted on April 17, 2009 by Martin Holladay

    In 1977, a group of Canadian researchers built a demonstration house in Regina. Called the Saskatchewan Conservation House, the nearly airtight building had triple-glazed windows, R-40 wall insulation, R-60 roof insulation, and one of the world’s first heat-recovery ventilators.

    The home’s design and engineering team included Robert Besant, Oliver Drerup, Rob Dumont, David Eyre, and Harold Orr. That same year, Gene Leger, a Massachusetts builder, finished a similar superinsulated house in Pepperell, Mass.

    Complicated Equipment

    Simplicity versus Complexity

    Posted on April 9, 2009 by Martin Holladay

    Designers of energy-efficient homes — especially homes aiming for net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. use — must inevitably grapple with the question of simplicity versus complexity.

    Residential designers can choose from an array of sophisticated appliances that improve comfort and help homeowners reduce energy use. Examples include heat-recovery ventilators (HRVs), condensing boilers, ground-source heat pumps, solar hot water systems, on-demand water heaters, heat-pump water heaters, photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. modules, and co-generation systems.

    Indoor AirPlus Specs Are Ahead of the Data

    The EPA’s Indoor AirPlus Program

    Posted on April 3, 2009 by Martin Holladay

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting builders to adopt specifications for new homes that are “designed for improved indoor air quality compared to a home built to minimum code.” The EPA calls its new program Indoor AirPlus.

    Toxic and non toxic building materials

    Toxic and Non-Toxic Houses

    Posted on March 31, 2009 by Martin Holladay

    Are green builders more fearful than most Americans? It would certainly appear so, since so many of them show signs of an almost paranoid obsession with toxins.

    Understanding R-Value 2

    Understanding R-Value

    Posted on March 24, 2009 by Martin Holladay

    R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. measurements are subject to a fair amount of ridicule, especially by marketers of radiant barriers. As it turns out, however, the ridicule is mostly unwarranted.

    Energy Auditors Make You Tube Video

    A Music Video For Energy Auditors

    Posted on March 18, 2009 by Martin Holladay

    Is it possible to make a funny music video on the topic of residential energy audits? It sounds unlikely. But a group of Stanford University students have risen to the challenge. Check it out.

    Choosing an Energy-Efficient Television

    Choosing an Energy-Efficient Television

    Posted on March 17, 2009 by Martin Holladay

    Last weekend I reluctantly undertook the unpleasant task of buying a new television. The task was unpleasant for several reasons: I have a countercultural aversion to updating electronic devices; I hate shopping; and I especially hate shopping at the only area retailer that sells televisions, a particularly repellent megastore headquartered in Arkansas.

    Yes, We Can

    Posted on March 10, 2009 by Martin Holladay

    After Henry Ford perfected the automobile assembly line, U.S. industry experienced several decades of explosive growth. Although industrial expansion was interrupted for a decade during the 1930s, it roared back during the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. Historians have proposed several explanations for these decades of growing productivity, including the country’s high rate of immigration and access to cheap energy and natural resources.

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