The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Our History of Petroleum Use

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

While most of us think of the petroleum age starting in the late 1850s, when North America's first oil well began gushing oil, human use of petroleum actually goes back much further.

Asphalt, a heavy constituent of petroleum (see last week's blog), was used four thousand years ago in constructing the walls of Babylon. During the Roman era, oil was collected and used in the province of Dacia (now Romania), where it was referred to as "picula."

How to Stay Cozy in a 1930s Bungalow

Posted on December 27, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Rich Cowan lives in an 1,800-square foot bungalow in northern Massachusetts that has been renovated twice in the last decade but still has some problems: no insulation in the basement, and a furnace and air handler in the vented attic.

"The heat produced by our gas furnace is quickly moving through the ceilings to a vented attic, and then is lost forever," Cowan writes in a Q&A post. Money to correct the problems is not unlimited, but Cowan has a plan.

Backerboards – Winners against Water

Posted on December 24, 2010 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

I sat down one day and figured this out: two people each taking an 8-minute shower every day is equivalent to the tub surround seeing 100 inches of driving rain a year. That means we should be building our wet walls for tub and bath surrounds with the best moisture management we can muster. And just about everyone agrees that means using a non-paper-faced tile backer board. The question remains: which non-paper faced tile backer board?

Enterprise Green Communities Criteria Checklist

The Pros and Cons of Advanced Framing

Posted on December 24, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Advanced framingHouse-framing techniques in which lumber use is optimized, saving material and improving the energy performance of the building envelope., also called optimum value engineering (OVE), is a framing system that aims to pare the amount of lumber used to frame buildings to the bare minimum. Advanced framing was developed in the 1960s by the Department of Housing and Urban Development as a way for builders to reduce costs.

In recent years, the decades-old framing system has been adopted by many green builders. These new advanced framing devotees are focused less on the cost-cutting aspects of the framing system than on its other virtues, including energy and materials savings.

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 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.

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