The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

The Case of the Mystery Gas Leak

Posted on November 28, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

What began as an attempt to track down the source of air leaks in his one-year-old home has led Kevin Hilton to a deeper mystery — a natural gas odor that is apparent only when energy auditors are running a blower-door testTest used to determine a home’s airtightness: a powerful fan is mounted in an exterior door opening and used to pressurize or depressurize the house. By measuring the force needed to maintain a certain pressure difference, a measure of the home’s airtightness can be determined. Operating the blower door also exaggerates air leakage and permits a weatherization contractor to find and seal those leakage areas..

As Hilton explains in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, the source of the gas leak has been impossible to track down so far.

Energy Star Version 3

Posted on November 28, 2011 by Amy Hook in Green Communities

Planning is an essential component to the new Energy Star Version 3. Not only is Energy Star Version 3 a component of the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, but it is also rapidly becoming the go-to energy performance standard for most federal and local funding sources.

European Products for Building Tight Homes

Posted on November 25, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A new distributor of building products from Europe has set up shop in Brooklyn, New York. The company, called Four Seven Five, was recently founded by a trio of 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. consultants: Floris Keverling Buisman, Sam McAfee, and Ken Levenson. Four Seven Five plans to import air-sealing products and ventilation fans from Germany, as well as HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. equipment from Denmark.

High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 1

Posted on November 24, 2011 by Ann Edminster, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

I come from a family of non-conformists. My dad was the product of a line of labor shit-disturbers of the first order; my mom came from milder stock but was herself a civic activist of unparalleled backbone. I spent my childhood marching for racial equality, farm worker rights, and peace in Vietnam. So perhaps it’s inevitable that I have come to view myself as a green building revolutionary.

New Blowing Agent Addresses Climate Impact of Foam Insulation

Posted on November 22, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

Honeywell has introduced two new blowing agents that could dramatically reduce the global warming potential (GWP) of a variety of foam insulation types. Marketed under the brand name Solstice, they are designed to be “drop-in” substitutes for blowing agents currently used to manufacture insulation for both buildings and appliances, including extruded polystyrene and closed-cell polyurethane foams.

The Business of Building a ‘Building Business’ — Part 1

Posted on November 22, 2011 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

On residential job sites, the polymath is virtually extinct. A variety of factors have conspired to make the jack-of-all-trades an endangered species, including greater competition, higher consumer expectations, increased technological sophistication in virtually every product category, tougher warranties, third-party inspections, more stringent codes and regulations, greater liability, and manufacturers’ requirements for training.

Dealing with a High-Capacity Range Hood

Posted on November 21, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

A range hood that whisks away cooking odors, moisture, and grease is almost always recommended as a way of keeping indoor air healthy. But what happens to the equation when the range hood is a behemoth, capable of sucking up 900 cubic feet of air per minute?

That’s the dilemma that Sean McLoughlin is facing as he designs a 3,500-sq. ft. house in southern California. The kitchen will be outfitted with a professional-size range and barbecue grill.

How to Build an Insulated Cathedral Ceiling

Posted on November 18, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED on April 8, 2016

Although the GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com website already contains many articles on the topic, we continue to receive frequent questions about the best way to insulate a cathedral ceiling. It’s therefore time to pull together as much information on the topic as possible and publish it in one place, to clarify the building science issues and code requirements governing insulated sloped roofs.

Historic Preservation and Green Renovation

Posted on November 17, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

At a recent round-table meeting on sustainable historic preservation, I was struck by how much alignment there is between preservation and green renovation. Now, green renovation is a wide and diverse field, and some of the deep energy retrofit people probably don’t have the same opinion on sustainable preservation standards as I do, but disagreements just help to keep things interesting and further the conversation.

Top 10 Air Leaks in Existing Homes – Part 2

Posted on November 16, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

From an energy-efficiency standpoint, the trouble with owning an old home is that you’re stuck with whatever bad decisions the previous owners made, and historical trends also tend to work against you. The trouble with building a new home is that you are the one that is going to make the bad decisions.

The best opportunity to make important decisions that will deliver energy efficiency for the life of the home is during design. There is rapid diminution of these opportunities during construction and then during use of the home.

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