The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Chilling Out With Air Conditioners

Posted on July 5, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

[This reflects a few corrections from the original posting]

My wife and I did our outside work early, while the weather was still bearable. Since mid-day we’ve been holed up in the house. It’s not exactly cool indoors, but we’ve had the house closed up and it’s about 15 degrees cooler than outdoors. If it gets much warmer, though, I admit that I’ll at least be thinking about getting an air conditioner—as I do every year for a few days during the hottest weather.

Essential Energy-Audit Equipment

Posted on July 3, 2012 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

I thought I’d put together a list of all of the tools and equipment I use during an energy audit. Not all of these tools are used during every audit, and some aren’t essential to investigating the house. I’ve separated the lists into two categories: essential items and useful items.

How to Insulate a Basement Wall

Posted on June 29, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Here at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com, we regularly receive questions from readers about the best way to insulate a basement wall. Since these questions pop up frequently, it’s time to pull together as much information as possible on this topic.

In this article, I’ll try to explain everything you always wanted to know about insulating basement walls.

Keeping Cool

Posted on June 28, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Welcome to summer. Burlington, Vermont hit a record 97°F the other day, and my place in West Dummerston reached 93°, with high humidity. What’s the best way to stay comfortable in weather like this — assuming that you’re not using mechanical air conditioning?

First, it’s important to understand that the goal isn’t really about temperature; it’s about comfort. Some very simple strategies can help you remain comfortable even with high air temperatures.

Trade Contractor Management: Creating Programs That Work

Posted on June 26, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Business Advisor

Way back when I was a contractor, I always found it useful to develop well-organized systems to use in running our business. Whenever I was asked the same question twice, it was time to create standards and procedures for employees and trade contractors to refer to.

I called these the gifts that kept on giving: once you had them you could stop trying to remember what you said the last time and just refer people to the appropriate documents. Eventually they learn, and the questions become less frequent.

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About the HERS Index

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

A lot of home builders and homeowners are getting certified home energy ratings to find out how efficient their homes are. There's also a lot of buzz about HERS ratings, with builders looking at them as a tool for marketing their homes.

Understanding Energy Units

Posted on June 22, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you’ve ever been confused by the difference between 500 BtuBritish thermal unit, the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water (about a pint) one degree Fahrenheit in temperature—about the heat content of one wooden kitchen match. One Btu is equivalent to 0.293 watt-hours or 1,055 joules. and 500 Btu/h, you probably can use a handy cheat sheet to explain energy units. As a guide through the thorny thickets of energy, power, and the units used to measure them, I’ve assembled some questions and attempted to answer them.

Lawn Mowing Season

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I’ve never liked mowing the lawn. And it’s not just because of the gasoline used in the process.

The Problem With Modern Architecture

Posted on June 19, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Over my now decades-long career in construction and renovation, I have rarely attended any home tours, but I recently went on a tour of modern homes in Atlanta sponsored by a group called, quote appropriately, Modern Atlanta. The tour included ten single-family homes (I saw eight of them) and one commercial building, the new Atlanta offices of Perkins + Will, a LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. Platinum renovation, which I did not visit.

Choosing a Cost-Effective Wall System

Posted on June 18, 2012 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Erik Olofsson is planning a small house in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. Ideally, he’d like to get the walls close to R-40. The question is how.

“Seeing that the received opinion around GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com is the tandem of polyethylene sheeting and exterior rigid foam is not ideal, what do the builders on this site recommend?” he asks in a post at the GBA Q&A forum. “Larsen trusses seem fairly labor-intensive and rigid foam is expensive ... Is a double-stud wallConstruction system in which two layers of studs are used to provide a thicker-than-normal wall system so that a lot of insulation can be installed; the two walls are often separated by several inches to reduce thermal bridging through the studs and to provide additional space for insulation. the answer?”

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