The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Save Energy With Storm Windows

Posted on April 20, 2015 by Mike Guertin, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

A client contacted me about installing replacement double-hung windows because she said the old ones were leaky and difficult to operate. It turned out that the double-hung wood windows on her 1960s ranch were actually in good condition. The problem was with the storm windows, which were aluminum triple-track models that had corroded. Many of the spring-loaded sash locks had frozen up, so the sashes wouldn’t latch in position, and the gasketing had dried up, allowing the sashes to rattle and leak air.

Fixing Attics With Vermiculite Insulation

Posted on April 17, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you're under the impression that natural insulation materials are the safest ones to use, it might be time to think again. Vermiculite is a natural insulation material — but it’s one that you definitely don’t want to have in your attic.

Vermiculite is a mineral mined from the earth, composed of shiny flakes that look like mica. When this mineral is put in an oven, it expands like popcorn. Expanded vermiculite is lightweight, fire-resistant, and odorless; since it has an R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. of about R-2 per inch, it was used for decades as an insulation material.

Do Wood-Burning Power Plants Make Sense?

Posted on April 16, 2015 by Willem Post in Guest Blogs

A recent comment posted at a Vermont news web site called VTDigger read, "Just a single 25 megawatt (MW) woodchip plant could/would provide some 4 percent of Vermont’s [electricity] consumption, 24/7, and would contribute to the Vermont economy in the form of jobs and money in circulation from the wages [and] taxes — wealth created in the state that stays in the state."

From Luxury to LEED

Posted on April 16, 2015 by Mark Picton in Green Building Blog

Like other building contractors, we have enjoyed the challenge of building big, fancy houses, and we are honored by the confidence and trust their owners have placed in us. In the best of those projects, the details were exquisite and demanding. Besides providing a good living, however, the single-minded, spare-no-effort pursuit of quality in big projects should leave us spiritually nourished and enriched.

An Interview with Building Science Pioneer Terry Brennan

Posted on April 15, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Last week I got a chance to sit down and talk with Terry Brennan in Dallas at the Air Barrier Association of America’s annual conference. He may not be as famous as Joe Lstiburek, but he’s every bit the building science pioneer. Armed with a physics degree, the ASHRAEAmerican Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). International organization dedicated to the advancement of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration through research, standards writing, publishing, and continuing education. Membership is open to anyone in the HVAC&R field; the organization has about 50,000 members. Handbook of Fundamentals, and a desire to reduce the environmental impact of buildings, he built houses and wrote energy modeling computer programs back in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Hoping for a Climate Change Breakthrough

Posted on April 14, 2015 by Peter Dykstra in Guest Blogs

Those concerned about climate change have no choice but hope. I take that a step further: Despite the overwhelming evidence that they’re horrendously wrong, I hope the climate deniers are right.

Better to look like a fool than to suffer what science says is in store for us.

Failing that, let’s return to the eternal hopes that carbon-free lightbulbs will appear over the heads of the Senate Majority and three ghosts per Koch Brother will leave a Dickensian impression overnight.

Where is This Water Coming From?

Posted on April 13, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Writing from Climate Zone 6, GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com reader David Metzger is looking for some advice about his standing-seam metal roof. More to the point, why is there water dripping from the soffit when the winter's accumulation of snow and ice starts to melt?

Making Fiberglass Work

Posted on April 13, 2015 by Lee Kurtas in Green Building Blog

When building science and home efficiency really took off in the mid-1990s, insulation contractors started hearing regularly about how the type of insulation used affects a building’s energy efficiency. Blower-door testing and thermal imaging of existing homes proved that fiberglass—as it’s typically installed—didn’t perform as well as other types of insulation, especially spray foam. As a result, builders and architects doing projects with energy-performance benchmarks started specifying spray foam as a way to ensure better airtightness and thermal resistance.

Using a Glycol Ground Loop to Condition Ventilation Air

Posted on April 10, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Most energy-efficient homes include a mechanical ventilation system — often an HRV(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air. or ERV(ERV). The part of a balanced ventilation system that captures water vapor and heat from one airstream to condition another. In cold climates, water vapor captured from the outgoing airstream by ERVs can humidify incoming air. In hot-humid climates, ERVs can help maintain (but not reduce) the interior relative humidity as outside air is conditioned by the ERV. that brings in fresh outdoor air while simultaneously exhausting an equal volume of stale indoor air. The main problem with introducing outdoor air into a house is that the air is at the wrong temperature — too cold during the winter and too hot (and often too humid) during the summer.

In Defense of Inconvenient Truths about Vinyl Siding

Posted on April 9, 2015 by Fernando Pages Ruiz in Guest Blogs

A recent blog of mine, “The Counterintuitive Cladding,” discussed the “green” bona fides of vinylCommon term for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In chemistry, vinyl refers to a carbon-and-hydrogen group (H2C=CH–) that attaches to another functional group, such as chlorine (vinyl chloride) or acetate (vinyl acetate). siding. The blog struck a variety of nerves, including from those who mistook an obvious opinion piece for a poorly written scientific paper.

Register for a free account and join the conversation


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