The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Blog Review: Brute Force Collaborative

Posted on March 31, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Green Building Blog

One of the most appealing things about the web are the unplanned side trips you take on the way to somewhere else, which is how I found myself at Brute Force Collaborative, a blog with a special focus on PassivhausA 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. projects.

BFC is the work of two Passivhaus designers, Michael Eliason and Aaron Yankauskas, who went to school together at Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies, and then worked for a time in Germany. Both eventually settled in Seattle.

Solar Decathlon 2011: Parsons and Stevens Institute Team Up

Posted on March 29, 2011 by Richard Defendorf in 2011 Solar Decathlon

As the Solar Decathlon has evolved, the intended users of the homes in the competition have increasingly, even if only tacitly, become partners in shaping the finished products. Many Decathlon entries are not only climate-specific, they are designed to reflect regional architecture and to accommodate local culture and customs. Empowerhouse is one such entry, with design and performance features targeted for a specific lot and community environment in Washington, D.C.

Passivhaus, Part 1: Concepts and Basics

Posted on March 28, 2011 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

There's a perceptible buzz in the air about the PassivhausA 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 within the green building community. In fact, it's becoming downright inescapable in these hallowed halls, forums, blogs, and seminars. So naturally it's time for the less-than-hallowed reaches of the blogosphere, such as the Green Architects' Lounge, to jump in and join the conversation.

Nuclear Meltdown in Japan and Our Energy Future

Posted on March 28, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

The two parents have their backs to the camera, ten feet away. The father is standing, and the mother crouching, both looking into what looks like a tangled pile of debris, but which (we are told by the photo caption) is a vehicle in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. The body of their daughter, killed by the tsunami, is trapped inside. I can only imagine the grief on their faces and in their hearts.

Green Multifamily Projects in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program

Posted on March 25, 2011 by Amy Hook in Green Communities

Recently, I was talking with another Neighborhood Stabililization Program technical advisor (NSP-TA) and he said that he heard somewhere that multifamily projects made up 30% of all NSP. I was shocked. I guess because so much of the work I do, day-to-day, is single-family oriented, it hadn’t even occurred to me that multifamily had such a stake in the NSP game!

New resources — EGC 2011 criteria: single-family AND multifamily

New Green Building Products — March 2011

Posted on March 25, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

It’s been about six months since my last roundup of new green building products. This time I’ll look at two ventilation products (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. and a fan), a pressure-balancing grille, and an inexpensive camera to inspect difficult-to-reach areas. I’ll also mention four new North American distributors of European PassivhausA 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.-certified windows.

Another Greenprints Conference Wraps Up Well

Posted on March 23, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

The 2011 Greenprints conference wrapped up recently, and as I reported last year, it was a valuable, modest, regional green building conference.

Solar Decathlon 2011: A Refined Design from Ohio State

Posted on March 22, 2011 by Richard Defendorf in 2011 Solar Decathlon

As it prepares for its second Solar Decathlon, the team representing Ohio State University is building a house whose design emphasizes passive features — a superinsulated, airtight shell and triple-glazed windows — and then brings the building’s operation to 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. with 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. array and a solar hot water system.

Reviving an Old Debate on Vapor Barriers

Posted on March 21, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

The post was simply labeled “Martin Holladay” — for the GreenBuildingAdvisor senior editor — but the question from architect Stephen Thompson went to the heart of one of the most contentious building questions in recent history: is a polyethylene vapor barrier a good idea?

Thompson tells Holladay he's read much of what Holladay has had to say about vapor barriers, but he still is puzzled by several comments.

Will Minisplits Replace Forced-Air Heating and Cooling Systems?

Posted on March 18, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Because forced-air heating and cooling systems are assembled on site from a great many parts, there are many ways for installers to make mistakes. Researchers have repeatedly shown that a high percentage of residential forced-air systems have major problems, including duct systems that are poorly designed, poorly located, and leaky. Other problems include incorrect refrigerant charge and too much or too little airflow over the cooling coil.

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