The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

62 Things We Should Ban to Improve Home Building

Posted on July 12, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Let's face it. The state of home building isn't good. Yes, we have building science and energy codes and green building programs out the wazoo. We have cool new products and home energy raters and even Joe Lstiburek. Despite all this, we still have wild ductopuses, holey air barriers, and insipid insulation installations.

And I've finally lost my patience. I think the only way to improve the state of home building in America is to ban these things.

Could a Trade Dispute With China End the U.S. Solar Boom?

Posted on July 11, 2017 by Marc Gunther in Guest Blogs

Cheap Chinese solar cells have powered a boom in the U.S. solar industry. They have helped drive down the cost of making electricity from sunlight by about 70% since 2010, leading to double-digit growth rates in rooftop and utility-scale installations, according to the industry. Last year, for the first time, solar added more generating capacity to the electricity grid than any other fuel, including natural gas. That’s welcome news to those who worry about climate change.

Installing Lap Siding Over Foam

Posted on July 10, 2017 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

William Costello is building a new house in southwest Virginia that will be framed with 2x6s and will include up to 2 inches of exterior rigid foam insulation. He plans on installing 3/4-inch thick plywood furring strips on top of the exterior foam, and then will side the house with LP SmartSide lap siding designed specifically for houses with 24-inch on-center framing.

It all sounded straightforward enough until Costello took a close look at the installation instructions from LP Building Products.

PV Systems That Divert Surplus Power to a Water Heater

Posted on July 7, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

In some U.S. states, electric utilities refuse to offer a net-metering agreement to owners of 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. systems. Instead of a net-metering agreement — an arrangement that provides a homeowner with a one-for-one credit for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of PV-generated electricity fed into the grid — these utilities want to sell electricity to users for 12 cents or 15 cents per kWh, while buying it back for only 4 or 5 cents per kWh.

Efficiency Standards: A Few Steps Forward, A Few Steps Back

Posted on July 6, 2017 by Lauren Urbanek in Guest Blogs

First, some good news: After a lengthy and illegal delay, the Trump Administration finally announced that new bipartisan energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans, which will save consumers up to $12 billion over the next 30 years, will become effective on September 30. The Natural Resources Defense Council, joined by consumer advocates, other energy efficiency advocates, 10 states and the City of New York, had filed a lawsuit challenging this delay on March 31.

Which Utilities Sponsor the Best Energy Efficiency Programs?

Posted on July 5, 2017 by Anonymous in Guest Blogs

By GRACE RELF

This post originally appeared on the ACEEE blog.

Flatrock Passive: A Final Design and Energy Modeling

Posted on July 4, 2017 by David Goodyear in Guest Blogs

Editor's Note: This is the second installment in a series of blogs by David Goodyear describing the construction of his new home in Flatrock, Newfoundland. The home will be the first in the province to be built to the 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. standard. The first installment of the GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com blog series was titled An Introduction to the Flatrock Passive House. You can find Goodyear's complete blog here.

Solar Thermal is NOT Dead

Posted on July 3, 2017 by ROBERT STARR in Guest Blogs

An article written by Martin Holladay, “Solar Thermal is Dead,” was published by GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com on March 23, 2012, and another article titled “Solar Thermal is Really, Really Dead” followed it on December 26, 2014. The premise of these articles is that solar thermal is dead because “It’s now cheaper to use a 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. system to heat domestic hot water.” These two articles have been very widely circulated and remain very much with us today. As one example, I recently Googled “solar domestic water heater” and these articles came up #2.

R-Value Advice from Building Science Corporation

Posted on June 30, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

To reduce energy use, green builders often install above-code levels of insulation. Thick insulation is expensive, however, so it’s sometimes hard to know how much insulation is optimal.

To help guide builders wrestling with R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. questions, I wrote an article in May 2016 (“How Much Insulation Is Too Much?”) reporting on R-value recommendations from three energy experts: David White, Marc Rosenbaum, and Rachel Wagner.

Unlocking the High Value of Clean Energy in Low-Income Communities

Posted on June 29, 2017 by David Labrador in Guest Blogs

Many of the 135 stakeholders of RMI’s Electricity Innovation Lab (e–Lab) who gathered for the first e–Lab Summit at the end of 2016 are involved with Leap, an ongoing RMI initiative dedicated to empowering and improving the lives of low-income communities and households in a clean energy future.

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