The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Drywall Finishing Tips for Owner-Builders

Posted on November 18, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Plenty of owner-builders are happy to hang drywall. When it comes to taping and finishing, however, most feel less confident. Some just shrug their shoulders and announce, “I’m going to hire a contractor to do the drywall.”

Spreading drywall mud is like frosting a cake. You need to have the right touch, and the right touch takes experience. The first time you frost a cake, you’re going to damage the surface of the cake and get cake crumbs mixed with the frosting. You need to take a deep breath, slow down, and adjust the pressure on your knife.

SEE STACK is a Cool Stack-Effect Tool

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Peter Yost in Building Science

In 2003, as part of their presentation (“Ventilation Myths and Misconceptions”) at the Affordable Comfort conference, Collin Olson and Paul Francisco debuted a software tool they developed called SEE STACK. (If you want to experiment with the software, click here to download the executable file and training manual).

Do Humidifiers Create IAQ Problems?

Posted on November 16, 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

It's that time of year when heating systems start coming out of their summer hibernation. (Except maybe in Vermont. Michael Blasnik's Nest data showed that Vermonters are about the last to start heating their homes in the fall.) Then everyone starts looking for their lotion and lip balm. Gaps appear in hardwood flooring as it dries out. Buildings begin to creak and pop. And then the humidifiers come out.

Yes, humidifiers can help with low indoor humidity. But what effect might they have on indoor air quality?

On College Campuses, Signs of Progress on Renewable Energy

Posted on November 15, 2016 by Anonymous in Guest Blogs

By BEN GOLDFARB

The soul of Arizona State University is Memorial Union, a hulking brick-and-glass community center that opens onto a sprawling pedestrian mall. Although the building sits at the heart of campus, its outdoor plaza was once virtually uninhabitable for four months each year, when summer temperatures in scorching Tempe often hover over 100 degrees.

So in 2014, the university — Arizona’s leading energy consumer — completed construction on a PowerParasol, a 25-foot-tall shade canopy composed of 1,380 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. panels capable of producing 397 kilowatts of electricity.

Getting Into the Details

Posted on November 14, 2016 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Carl Seville and his wife are building themselves a new home in Decatur, Georgia. The first blog in this series was titled The Third Time’s the Charm. Links to all of the blogs in this series can be found in the “Related Articles” sidebar below.

All About Doors

Posted on November 11, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Almost every house has at least two exterior doors. A bad exterior door is ugly, leaky, made from materials that injure the planet, and has a low R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. . A good door is attractive, doesn’t leak air, is manufactured with materials that are harvested or produced in a sustainable way, and has a decent R-value.

A Practical Approach to Passive House

Posted on November 10, 2016 by Steve Baczek in Green Building Blog

I began my career in architecture nearly 17 years ago after spending many years as a contractor. My background has given me a strong appreciation for and understanding of people who design and build homes. I’ve designed more than 30 zero-energy homes, six deep-energy retrofits, and numerous high-performance houses. In truth, the path to optimum performance and durability hasn’t always been easy.

Using Rooftop Solar to Meet the Energy Code

Posted on November 9, 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Supply and demand are two different things. When you think of an energy code, say the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC International Energy Conservation Code.), you probably think of demand, not supply. Conserving energy, after all, means reducing demand. It's related to supply only indirectly.

As a result, you might expect an energy conservation code to have requirements that affect only the demand side of the equation. With the 2015 IECC, however, that's not true anymore.

The Rashkin Plan for Higher Profits with High-Performance Housing

Posted on November 8, 2016 by Fernando Pages Ruiz in Guest Blogs

Sam Rashkin is a man with a mission: a mission no less ambitious than to change the way American homebuilders conceive, construct, and promote their products.

As the father of the Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. Certified Homes Program, and now as chief architect of the building technologies office at the U.S. Department of Energy, his day-job description involves promoting super-energy-efficient construction. As a designer with businessman’s heart, he prefers to call it high performance construction.

An Owner-Builder Weighs His Options

Posted on November 7, 2016 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Too big, too complicated, too expensive — all problems in Mike Sterner's current home, and exactly what he'd like to correct in the new house he's planning in northern Wisconsin.

Writing in a Q&A post, Sterner lays out his basic plan for a "pretty good house that finds that happy place between great energy efficiency and economy."

The site is vacant farmland with a south-facing slope. Sterner's woodlot has lots of pine and oak he intends to mill for use in his new house.

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