The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

CarMic House: No, We Are Not Crazy

Posted on May 10, 2016 by Carri Beer and Michael Hindle in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: Carri Beer and Michael Hindle are renovating this 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. The couple's first post about the project, Rebuilding a Mid-Century Dinosaur, was published on March 2.

How to Attach a Thick Layer of Exterior Insulation

Posted on May 9, 2016 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Adding a layer of insulation to the outside of a house, over the 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. , makes all kinds of sense from an energy perspective. But the thicker the layer, the more challenging becomes the actual means of attaching it to the building.

In a post in the Q&A forum at Green Building Advisor, Burke Stoller shares some of his concerns, as well as a proposed solution. Stoller is working out the details for a 6-inch-thick layer of Roxul ComfortBoard mineral wool, consisting of two layers of 3-inch-thick panels, each 2 feet by 4 feet.

These Superinsulated Homes Were Delivered By Truck

Posted on May 6, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Last fall, Dartmouth College realized that it needed to build four new single-family homes, pronto. Beginning this summer, the homes will be occupied by the “house professors” assigned to new “house communities” — the term that Dartmouth uses to describe the college’s dormitory clusters.

The LEED Pilot for Wood

Posted on May 5, 2016 by Stuart Kaplow in Guest Blogs

The U.S. Green Building Council is to be applauded for the release last week of the new pilot credit, MRpc102 – Legal Wood.

There may be no single subject matter more discussed with over the 15-year history of LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. than forest product certification. And that this new pilot credit continues the discussion is positive.

But make no mistake: this new alternative compliance path credit does not alter the existing LEED credit, NC v4 MRc3, that mandates: "Wood products must be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council(FSC) Nonprofit organization that promotes forestry practices that are sustainable from environmental and social standpoints; FSC certification on a wood product is an indicator that the wood came from a well-managed forest. or USGBCUnited States Green Building Council (USGBC). Organization devoted to promoting and certifying green buildings. USGBC created the LEED rating systems.-approved equivalent."

The Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)

Posted on May 4, 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

The Green Builder Coalition has been working hard on their Water Efficiency Rating Score — the WERS — for homes. The inaugural WERS training happened in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in March. I was in that class, and I learned a lot.

The program has been in development for the past couple of years. Now it's ready for prime time.

When Will Rooftop Solar Be Cheaper Than the Grid?

Posted on May 3, 2016 by Joshua Rhodes in Guest Blogs

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory said recently that rooftop solar panels have the potential to generate nearly 40% of electricity in the U.S. But what about the cost of going solar?

Many people ask when the cost of producing power from 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. (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.) panels will be equal to or less than buying from the grid — a point called “grid parity.” Reaching grid parity could accelerate solar adoption.

But in asking the question, they often compare apples to oranges and forget that the answer varies from place to place and from one type of installation to another.

Are New Homes Getting Better?

Posted on April 29, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A subset of North American builders has been interested in a high-performance homes for at least 40 years. You could call these people green builders, progressive builders, or energy-conscious builders; whatever you call them, they’ve been around for a while.

Installing Windows in a Minnesota House

Posted on April 28, 2016 by Elden Lindamood in Guest Blogs

This is the third installment of a blog series by architect Elden Lindamood about the design and construction of his own home. The first installment was called A Low-Energy House for Northern Minnesota.

As Electric Cars Stall, A Move to Greener Trucks and Buses

Posted on April 27, 2016 by Cheryl Katz in Guest Blogs

The clang of garbage cans will still probably wake people way too early in the morning. But in Santa Rosa, California, at least, the roaring diesel engine will be quiet, replaced by a silent, electric motor.

Compartmentalization in Multifamily Buildings

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Sean Maxwell in Guest Blogs

At some point in our lives, we’ve all been in an apartment building or a hotel and smelled cigarette smoke or cooking odors from a neighbor. Or maybe you’ve heard an argument (or other things) going on next door that you didn’t want to hear. Let’s face it: living in apartment buildings is not without annoyances.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to alleviate some of these problems: by sealing up the gaps in the walls between apartments. This is “compartmentalization.”

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