The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Understanding Petroleum

Posted on December 23, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

This week I'll take a detour from practical energy-conserving solutions to take a look at oil (petroleum) — the fluid that has powered our automobile-based society. Be prepared for some new terminology and a little bit of chemistry!

U.S. Military Leads the Way on Sustainability

Posted on December 21, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

In a recent New York Times article, Thomas Friedman brought up the U.S. military’s current push to become energy independent as a national security measure. According to Friedman, the “Navy and Marines are building a strategy for 'out-greening' Al Quaeda…and the world’s petro-dictators.” This strategy apparently evolved out of a study showing that one person dies for every 24 of the hundreds of fuel convoys run through Afghanistan.

The Business Case for ‘Smaller Is Better’

Posted on December 20, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

Being surrounding in the pages of GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com by a lot of folks whose credentials make mine pale in comparison, I have to be sure never to wander too far from home. And the perspective I am privileged to represent here is one of “Business Advisor,” which means you won’t see me straying too far afield into Building Science, Sustainable Design, or God knows else I would like to pontificate on but that may be outside my purview.

Air Leaks or Thermal Loss: What’s Worse?

Posted on December 20, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Beefing up R-values and reducing air leaks are the twin rallying cries of builders focusing on energy efficiency. Regardless of the particulars of the house design, more insulation and fewer air leaks make houses more comfortable, more durable, and less expensive to heat and cool.

No one seems to argue that point. But Al Cobb wonders which is more significant.

Christmas Carols from the Energy Nerd

Posted on December 17, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED December 23, 2010:
Click on the mp3 link above to listen to a recorded version of "The Blower Door Man Is Coming to Town." Many thanks to Greg Cutler and Peter Troast of The Energy Circle for recording one of this year's carols.

Rudolph the Sloppy Builder

You know all about Norm Abram
And that old builder named Bob
But do you recall
The most infamous builder of all?

How Green Is My Pink?

Posted on December 17, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I recently attended an event at the Owens Corning (OC) insulation plant in Fairburn, Ga., about 45 minutes from my house. Being of the geeky sort, I always appreciate the opportunity to see big machines, so the factory tour piqued my interest, although, unfortunately, I was not allowed to take any pictures of the process. As is usual with most industry events, there was some good, some bad, and a little ugly, but overall I considered it a reasonably good use of my time. And as a bonus, I actually learned a few new things while there.

Comfort and Drafts

Posted on December 16, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Insulation is really important when it comes to saving energy in our homes. With more insulation in our walls, roofs, and foundation, less heat escapes via conduction to the outdoors. Insulate well!

How Safe is PEX Tubing?

Posted on December 13, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Builders have climbed on the PEXCross-linked polyethylene. Specialized type of polyethylene plastic that is strengthened by chemical bonds formed in addition to the usual bonds in the polymerization process. PEX is used primarily as tubing for hot- and cold-water distribution and radiant-floor heating. bandwagon in droves. Cross-linked polyethylene tubing is increasingly taking the place of copper in residential plumbing systems for a variety of reasons: ease of installation, resistance to acidic water, and the virtual elimination of leak-prone fittings.

It all adds up to a juggernaut for a building material that's only been available in the U.S. since the 1980s.

But Arlene DiMarino isn't sure about the safety of PEX.

Foam Under Footings

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

A wide variety of residential foundation types, including monolithic slabs, crawl space foundations, and basement foundations, can lose heat due to poorly detailed insulation at the concrete footings. That’s because many construction details, including some details on the GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com Web site, fail to address thermal bridgingHeat flow that occurs across more conductive components in an otherwise well-insulated material, resulting in disproportionately significant heat loss. For example, steel studs in an insulated wall dramatically reduce the overall energy performance of the wall, because of thermal bridging through the steel. through foundation footings.

A Foot-Controlled Faucet For Convenience and Savings

Posted on December 8, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

For the past eight years we've been able to turn our kitchen faucet on and off using a knee- and foot-controlled valve from the Canadian company Tapmaster. This may seem like a convenience-only product designed for lazy people. I can't argue with all of that — and admit that I probably wouldn't have installed one if I hadn't received it for testing from the manufacturer after we had reviewed a competing product in Environmental Building News.

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