The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

My 8th Commandment: Never Let the Client...

Posted on October 11, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

There is no greater peril to a green builder/remodeler (or any builder/remodeler, for that matter) than a client who insists on having you do something outside your comfort zone. Clients ask us to do some crazy and some not-so-crazy things for any number of reasons, but trust me: As often as not, these requests are trains at the end of the tunnel, not light!

The History of Superinsulated Houses in North America

Posted on October 10, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Several GBA readers have requested a copy of a presentation on “The History of Superinsulated Houses in North America” that I gave at the 14th Annual Westford Symposium on Building Science (August 3, 2010). I also gave the presentation at the annual meeting of the British Columbia Building Envelope Council in Vancouver (September 22, 2010).

Here it is:
The History of Superinsulated Houses in North America

For more on the topic, check out two blogs with overlapping content:

Basement-to-Living-Space Moisture Problems

Posted on October 8, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Scott Razzino has an all-too-familiar problem. The basement of his 1,100-sq.-ft. home in Atlanta is chronically damp. He's installed a 65-pint dehumidifier, which must be emptied every day. Surely, he wonders in this Q&A post, there must be a better way to tackle the problem.

Solar Versus Superinsulation: A 30-Year-Old Debate

Posted on October 8, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

The oil price shock of 1973 sparked a burst of interest in “solar houses.” During the 1970s, owner-builders all over the U.S. erected homes with extensive south-facing glazingWhen referring to windows or doors, the transparent or translucent layer that transmits light. High-performance glazing may include multiple layers of glass or plastic, low-e coatings, and low-conductivity gas fill. — sometimes sloped, sometimes vertical. Many of these houses included added thermal massHeavy, high-heat-capacity material that can absorb and store a significant amount of heat; used in passive solar heating to keep the house warm at night. — concrete floors, concrete-block walls, or 55-gallon drums filled with water.

Green Building Priority #7 – Protect and Restore the Site

Posted on October 6, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Of all the environmental problems we're causing as a species — including air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion, ozone depletion, and climate change — loss of biodiversity is the most permanent. Ecologists point out that it can take hundreds of thousands or even millions of years of evolution to fill ecological niches that are being vacated by the extinctions we are causing.

Home Builder Tips for Increasing Web Site Traffic

Posted on October 6, 2010 by Dina Lima in Business Advisor

In her book Loyalty is Love, internationally acclaimed speaker and business trainer Beverly Koehn explains that home builders are in the retail business and should ensure that every single contact with home buyers, from the very first interaction, is memorable.

With consumers being increasingly active on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, home builders should pay attention to the first contact and “user experience” that potential home buyers will have with their company. In this era, that first contact is usually online.

Should Insulated Concrete Forms be Air-Sealed?

Posted on October 4, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Roger Lin is planning to use insulated concrete forms in a house he hopes will meet 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 of 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals (ACH50). ICFs are rigid foam building blocks stacked like Legos and then filled with concrete.

Lin has been told by ICF manufacturers they won't need air-sealing, but he's not so sure.

Prevent Ice Dams With Air Sealing and Insulation

Posted on October 1, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

During snowy winters, many northern homes are plagued by ice dams. If your house suffers from wet ceilings during the winter, you may be ready to call up a contractor. Be careful, though: since most contractors don’t understand the causes of ice dams, they often suggest the wrong solution.

Green Building Priority #8 — Use Green Products

Posted on September 30, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Those who are new to green building may be surprised that material selection isn't right at the top of my priority list. Many people assume that what makes a home green are things like the use of recycled-content or bio-based materials — decking made out of recycled milk jugs or foam insulation made from soybean oil, for example.

Greening Bank-Owned Homes

Posted on September 30, 2010 by Amy Hook in Green Communities

Before a bank puts a foreclosed property back on the market, typically the bank does some bare-bones repairs on the property. What if, instead of doing the bare minimum, the bank decided to look at the foreclosed property as a challenge and opportunity?

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