The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Millwork Plant Shows Some Sustainable Stuff

Posted on April 22, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

As I write this, I am sitting on a tour bus heading back to Atlanta after a short trip to the Koetter Woodworking facility in southern Indiana. Its local distribution outlet, InsiDesign, regularly brings a group of designers, architects, builders—and now, consultants—up for a few days of education, sales, networking, and copious amounts of food and drink each evening.

Solar Decathlon 2011: Team Belgium’s DIY E-Cube

Posted on April 19, 2011 by Richard Defendorf in 2011 Solar Decathlon

Many Solar Decathlon designs are elaborations on the cube, in part because houses conforming to that shape tend to be relatively simple to dissemble, transport, and reassemble. Team Belgium, representing Ghent University, saw the cube as a starting point — but also as a destination — for its Solar Decathlon 2011 entry.

Can Conditioned Attics Be Too Big?

Posted on April 18, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

James Fincher is a builder in Oklahoma who’s leaning toward designs with conditioned attics insulated with spray polyurethane foam.

However, he’s not convinced that a conditioned attic is the best approach in a large home — something, say, in the 4,000 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft. range.

The problem, as he puts it in his Q&A post, is the “sheer volume” of attics in a house this large, and whether the increase in volume will force him to use a bigger HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. system.

Building Resilience for a ‘Close Encounter’ with Disaster

Posted on April 18, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

Sometimes being a practical person isn’t that fun. Last night my wife and I were watching the classic 1977 movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

Leading up to the climactic scene, the protagonists are racing to the location where they expect aliens to appear, while outrunning the U.S. Army and the United Nations. To do this, they must escape the authorities and their cattle cars, drive a station wagon off-road through Wyoming, and spend several hours scrambling up the dry, rocky landscape around Devil’s Tower.

More Passivhaus Site Visits in Washington State

Posted on April 15, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

This blog, a report on my three-day visit to Passivhaus construction sites and the 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. Northwest conference in Washington state, picks up where last week’s blog left off.

Blog Review: Trillium Architects

Posted on April 13, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Green Building Blog

Elizabeth Di Salvo cut her green-building teeth in 1992 in what she describes as an off-grid community in Colorado where she lived in a converted railroad box car. There, she learned a “very grass roots approach” to building, but also recognized how difficult it would be to incorporate those ideas into the mainstream housing market.

Solar Decathlon 2011: California Outsulation

Posted on April 12, 2011 by Richard Defendorf in 2011 Solar Decathlon

For the Solar Decathlon team representing Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology, otherwise known as SCI-Arc/Caltech, beauty is, in many ways, skin deep.

It’s Air Conditioning, Not Air Cool-ditioning

Posted on April 12, 2011 by Michael Chandler, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

"Why should anyone bother to ‘right-size’ an air conditioner — especially when it costs $350 to hire an engineer to ensure that the Manual J and Manual D calculations are performed properly?"

Using Sand to Store Solar Energy

Posted on April 11, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

John Klingel's question was simple enough: what's the best way of heating up a thick bed of sand beneath a concrete slab with PEXCross-linked polyethylene. Specialized type of polyethylene plastic that is strengthened by chemical bonds formed in addition to the usual bonds in the polymerization process. PEX is used primarily as tubing for hot- and cold-water distribution and radiant-floor heating. tubing? But the underlying issue — whether a sand bed is a good idea in the first place — quickly takes center stage in this Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor.

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