The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

The Business of Building a ‘Building Business’ — Part 2

Posted on December 28, 2011 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

In my last blog, I recommended that we builders should try to build our office team much like we build our construction team. We should move as quickly as possible from doing all the work ourselves to hiring specialty employees and professional partners. (In the field we call them trade contractors).

Lifecycle Building Center Opens in Atlanta

Posted on December 27, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I recently attended the grand opening for the Lifecycle Building Center (LBC), a new non-profit organization focused on building material reuse. The result of long hours of labor by many dedicated people, the LBC’s stated mission is to “make the lifecycle use of the built environment more efficient and sustainable.”

What’s Wrong With This Crawl Space?

Posted on December 26, 2011 by Garrett Mosiman in Guest Blogs

The photo shows an unvented crawl space in a cold climate. The home was built in 1885. This crawl space is attached to an adjacent concrete-floored basement. The foundation walls are made of mortared limestone.

Even in the small area captured in the photo, there are a number of problems that compromise energy efficiency, building durability, and life safety.

Next week, we will post the answers that a Building America team, NorthernStar, came up with.

Payback Calculations for Energy-Efficiency Improvements

Posted on December 23, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you are considering investing in an energy-efficiency improvement for your home — for example, additional attic insulation or 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. system — you probably expect the investment will lower your energy bills. So it’s only natural to ask, “Is this a good investment?”

For example, let’s say that you are considering spending $5,000 on an improvement that will save you $350 a year on your energy bills. Does the investment make economic sense? The answer, of course, is “it depends.”

High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 2

Posted on December 22, 2011 by Ann Edminster, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

Welcome back to the rant! (This is an extended, multi-month rant, in case you were wondering.)

Last month I introduced the “Change Toolkit,” a hierarchy of interventions with Mindset at the top (most effective type of intervention), followed by Processes, then Tools; Technologies (the perennial favorite) resides at the bottom – i.e., it is the least effective change lever in our toolkit for creating higher-performing homes.

Resilience: Designing Homes for More Intense Storms

Posted on December 21, 2011 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Anyone who was in Vermont in late August of this year and witnessed the raging floodwaters from tropical storm Irene gained an intimate view of the vulnerabilities we face from intense storms and flooding. Hundreds of miles of roadway were heavily damaged, dozens of bridges washed away, and some communities were cut off for weeks.

Spending a Day With Energy Policy Geeks

Posted on December 20, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I recently attended a small, one-day meeting in Atlanta of individuals and organizations involved in energy efficiency throughout the southeast U.S. Hosted by SEEA, the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, the group responsible for distributing much of the ARRA money for efficiency throughout the region.

How to Provide Makeup Air for a Wood Stove

Posted on December 19, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Wood stoves used to be pretty uncomplicated devices. Even though they weren’t airtight and they weren’t especially efficient, these cast-iron stoves warmed plenty of New England farmhouses in the dead of winter.

Our forebears never considered the source of makeup air to replace all the heated combustion gases that were going up the flue. They didn’t need to, because back then, houses were leaky. As the stove burned its load of oak or maple, makeup air had no trouble finding its way into the house.

The Third Annual Christmas Parody

Posted on December 16, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Act 1, scene 1. An empty lot near Scotland Drive.

Thunder and lightning. Enter three sisters, all RESNET-certified.

First rater:
When shall we three meet again,
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Second rater:
When the drywall work is done,
When the zoning battle’s won.

Using Hot Water to Heat Air with a Hydronic Furnace

Posted on December 15, 2011 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but yes, that photo shows the gas furnace and water heater in my condo. (I used to live in a very green SIP home that I built, but that's another story.) It's an 80 AFUEAnnual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Widely-used measure of the fuel efficiency of a heating system that accounts for start-up, cool-down, and other operating losses that occur during real-life operation. AFUE is always lower than combustion efficiency. Furnaces sold in the United States must have a minimum AFUE of 78%. High ratings indicate more efficient equipment. (80% efficient) furnace and natural draft water heater.

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