The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Is This Building Passivhaus-Certified?

Posted on January 27, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED February 7, 2012 with a response from Wolfgang Feist

The first residential 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. building in Canada is the Rideau Residences, a duplex at 279 Crichton Street in Ottawa. The building has impressive specifications: an R-70 foundation, R-50 walls, an R-70 roof, and triple-glazed low-eLow-emissivity coating. Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that permits most of the sun’s short-wave (light) radiation to enter, while blocking up to 90% of the long-wave (heat) radiation. Low-e coatings boost a window’s R-value and reduce its U-factor. windows. The building’s air leakage rate was tested at 0.58 ach50.

Resilient Design: Emergency Renewable Energy Systems

Posted on January 26, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

House location and design are the starting points in achieving resilience — where the house located, how well it can weather storms and flooding, and how effectively it retains heat and utilizes passive solar for heating and daylightingUse of sunlight for daytime lighting needs. Daylighting strategies include solar orientation of windows as well as the use of skylights, clerestory windows, solar tubes, reflective surfaces, and interior glazing to allow light to move through a structure.. Beyond that, we should look to more active renewable energy systems for backup heat, water heating, and electricity. This week we'll review these options.

Wood stoves

High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 3

Posted on January 25, 2012 by Ann Edminster, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

During the last month we’ve had a very stimulating conversation going about design – and how some important design opportunities for improving energy performance are often overlooked, and why. The dialogue started here and, thanks to fellow GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com Advisor Bruce King, continued on Facebook.

Now to continue the fun, we’re going to look at CODE – specifically, the energy code – and its role in high-performance and 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. homes.

LEED Certification as an Afterthought

Posted on January 24, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I was recently hired to be the Green Rater on a LEED for Homes project that is already under construction. This particular project is a fraternity house and the delay was due to a late decision to pursue LEED certification.

Apparently there was some confusion as to whether it was a commercial or residential building and if it should be considered a single family or multifamily structure. All these issues preceded my involvement – I am now involved and will work diligently to keep the project on track.

Weighing the Merits of Spray Foam Insulation

Posted on January 23, 2012 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Scott Jacobs’ 1,100-square-foot Cape is a perfect candidate for an energy upgrade. The 90-year-old house is gutted, and Jacobs wants to insulate it well even if his budget is not unlimited.

The house, located in Climate Zone 6, now has a 1/2-inch-thick layer of rigid foam on the exterior walls. Jacobs’ plan is to insulate the house from the inside with spray polyurethane foam.

Service Cavities for Wiring and Plumbing

Posted on January 20, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Conventional wood-framed walls perform many functions. Exterior walls are supposed to support the roof load, resist racking, and provide insulation. They must also provide space for routing electrical cables and (in some cases) plumbing pipes or even ductwork. If the walls are built properly, they should also include an air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both..

Resilient Design: Natural Cooling

Posted on January 19, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Over the past month and a half, my blogs been focusing on resilient design — which will become all the more important in this age of climate change. Achieving resilience in homes not only involves keeping them comfortable in the winter months through lots of insulation and some passive solar gain (which I've covered in the previous two blogs), it also involves keeping them from getting too hot in the summer months if we lose power and our air conditioning systems stop working.

Fukushima’s No-Entry Zone

Posted on January 13, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED February 27, 2012

Why is it that trivial news stories (for example, reports on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress) often receive disproportionate coverage, while important news stories are sometimes neglected?

Here’s my vote for the most neglected news story of 2011: the radioactive contamination of hundreds of square miles of land around the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. Although most news outlets have reported some details of this story, I think it deserves much more attention than it has received.

Resilient Design: Passive Solar Heat

Posted on January 12, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

As I discussed in last week's blog, a resilient home is extremely well insulated, so that it can be kept warm with very little supplemental heat — and if power or heating fuel is lost, for some reason, there won't be risk of homeowners getting dangerously cold or their pipes freezing. If we design and orient the house in such a way that natural heating from the sun can occur, we add to that resilience and further reduce the risk of the house getting too cold in the winter.

Passive solar heating

The First National Green Code — or Communism?

Posted on January 10, 2012 by Vera Novak in Guest Blogs

After a few false starts, the International Code Council (the code writing body for the U.S.) finally prevailed with the new International Green Construction Code, to be available in Spring 2012. Already there is media spin about the wonderful leadership shown by the U.S. in setting the example by providing such a code. Hoorah for the U.S.! I think…

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