The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Pondering the Sorry State of Green Building

Posted on November 12, 2012 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

After several months off from my blog, I am finally inspired to start writing again. I clearly don’t have the stamina of Allison Bailes of Energy Vanguard, who seems to put up a blog post about every 10 minutes, but I do need to get back on track so I don’t fade into obscurity (if I haven’t already).

Passivhaus Practitioners Share Their Success Stories

Posted on November 9, 2012 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A group of about 130 designers, builders, and Passivhaus fans gathered at U Mass Boston on October 27, 2012 to attend a one-day conference organized by Passive HouseA 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. New England.

It's impossible for this report to be comprehensive, unfortunately, and I won't be able to do justice to all of the conference events. My report will focus on three speakers: Adam Cohen, Chris Corson, and Roger Normand.

Gas Lines Point to a Need for Resilience

Posted on November 8, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

By now we’ve all seen the photos of houses buried in sand along the Jersey Shore, burned-out homes in Queens, and submerged subway stations in Manhattan. Those spectacular images were in the first wave of news from Superstorm Sandy last week.

Living With Point-Source Heat

Posted on November 7, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

When we yanked the oil boiler, we replaced it with a wall-mounted minisplit heat pumpHeating and cooling system in which specialized refrigerant fluid in a sealed system is alternately evaporated and condensed, changing its state from liquid to vapor by altering its pressure; this phase change allows heat to be transferred into or out of the house. See air-source heat pump and ground-source heat pump. in the main level open area that includes kitchen, dining, living and our little office area. We closed off the first-floor bedroom and bathroom so those rooms are only heated by conductionMovement of heat through a material as kinetic energy is transferred from molecule to molecule; the handle of an iron skillet on the stove gets hot due to heat conduction. R-value is a measure of resistance to conductive heat flow. and air leakage through the walls, and so they get cold — in the high 40°Fs at the lowest last winter.

A Visit to the Local Sawmill

Posted on November 6, 2012 by Roger Normand in Guest Blogs

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the 14th article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

We all know that ground beef and steak come from butchering a cow, but not many people have been to a slaughterhouse. (I suspect many would become vegetarians if they did).

Location Efficiency Trumps Home Energy Efficiency

Posted on November 5, 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

My last article here at Green Building Advisor was about my perception that the USGBC is out of touch. Apparently, quite a few others feel similarly, including many who work in the program.

The Difference Between Air Conditioners and Dehumidifiers

Posted on November 2, 2012 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

There’s a great Patton Oswalt bit where he contemplates meeting George Lucas in 1996 (gotta love the oblique intros). After slobbering over the original Star Wars trilogy and just about suffering an aneurysm over a possible new trilogy, his enthusiasm tapers off dramatically. He finds out what the new movies will be about, namely all the background filler behind his favorite characters and moments — which he hasn’t the palest interest in. To paraphrase, we don't care where the stuff we love comes from; we just love them.

Masonry Heaters Burn Hot and Clean

Posted on November 1, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Over the past two weeks I’ve written about wood stoves and pellet heating. This week I’ll focus on another way to burn wood cleanly and efficiently: using a masonry heater.

Installing a Ductless Minisplit System

Posted on October 31, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

The Island CohousingDevelopment pattern in which multiple (typically 8 to 30) privately owned houses or housing units are clustered together with some commonly owned spaces, such as a common workshop, greenhouse, etc. Automobiles are typically kept to the perimeter of the community, creating a protected area within where children can play. Usually, residents are closely involved in all aspects of the development, from site selection to financing and design. houses were designed to have heat and domestic hot water (DHW) supplied by an oil-fired boiler. (Time for a pedantic distinction: a furnace heats air and blows it around a house, and a boiler heats water which is pumped around the house).

They chose a pretty good boiler: a German Buderus G115. The two-bedroom houses got two heating zones' worth of fin-tube baseboard heat, one zone per floor level. The three- and four-bedroom houses have a third zone, for the first floor ell.

Cutting Down Trees and Milling Lumber

Posted on October 30, 2012 by Roger Normand in Guest Blogs

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the 13th article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

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