The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Green Building Priority #7 – Protect and Restore the Site

Posted on October 6, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Of all the environmental problems we're causing as a species — including air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion, ozone depletion, and climate change — loss of biodiversity is the most permanent. Ecologists point out that it can take hundreds of thousands or even millions of years of evolution to fill ecological niches that are being vacated by the extinctions we are causing.

Home Builder Tips for Increasing Web Site Traffic

Posted on October 6, 2010 by Dina Lima in Business Advisor

In her book Loyalty is Love, internationally acclaimed speaker and business trainer Beverly Koehn explains that home builders are in the retail business and should ensure that every single contact with home buyers, from the very first interaction, is memorable.

With consumers being increasingly active on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, home builders should pay attention to the first contact and “user experience” that potential home buyers will have with their company. In this era, that first contact is usually online.

Should Insulated Concrete Forms be Air-Sealed?

Posted on October 4, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Roger Lin is planning to use insulated concrete forms in a house he hopes will meet the 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. standard of 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals (ACH50). ICFs are rigid foam building blocks stacked like Legos and then filled with concrete.

Lin has been told by ICF manufacturers they won't need air-sealing, but he's not so sure.

Prevent Ice Dams With Air Sealing and Insulation

Posted on October 1, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

During snowy winters, many northern homes are plagued by ice dams. If your house suffers from wet ceilings during the winter, you may be ready to call up a contractor. Be careful, though: since most contractors don’t understand the causes of ice dams, they often suggest the wrong solution.

Green Building Priority #8 — Use Green Products

Posted on September 30, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Those who are new to green building may be surprised that material selection isn't right at the top of my priority list. Many people assume that what makes a home green are things like the use of recycled-content or bio-based materials — decking made out of recycled milk jugs or foam insulation made from soybean oil, for example.

Greening Bank-Owned Homes

Posted on September 30, 2010 by Amy Hook in Green Communities

Before a bank puts a foreclosed property back on the market, typically the bank does some bare-bones repairs on the property. What if, instead of doing the bare minimum, the bank decided to look at the foreclosed property as a challenge and opportunity?

Building an Energy-Efficient Home on a Budget

Posted on September 27, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

John Holscher has done enough research to know there are many ways of building and insulating an energy-efficient home. Options include double-stud walls, 2x6 walls with rigid foam on the exterior, and structural insulated panels.

Now he has to figure out which one makes the most sense for his Cape-style home in New England.

"So many options, so little time," he writes in his Q&A post.

Radiant Barriers: A Solution in Search of a Problem

Posted on September 24, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A radiant barrier is a shiny panel or flexible membrane used in construction. Although radiant barriers have no R-value, they can be used as part of a building assembly — for example, an assembly made up of a radiant barrier and an air space — to slow heat transfer.

Biomass Boilers, Part 3: Summing It All Up

Posted on September 24, 2010 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

For Part Three of this Green Architects' Lounge episode, we are joined once again by our good friend Pat Coon, from Revision Heat, to discuss the topic of biomassOrganic waste that can be converted to usable forms of energy such as heat or electricity, or crops grown specifically for that purpose. boilers. We complete the trilogy with a succinct discussion on cost and tax incentives (unfortunately, $1,500 is all you'll get from the U.S.). This is after Phil shares his "Hot Zigg!" (our expression for a good idea). Phil just wants a consistent wood pellet rating system. Is that too much to ask?

Green From the Start: Small Victory Department

Posted on September 23, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Well, it finally happened. My new house plans were approved by the local Hysterical Preservation Commission this week. Of course, there were a few hitches. I specified standing-seam metal roofing on the entire house and garage to allow for rainwater harvesting, but the commission and the neighbors pitched a fit about this particular finish selection. It seems that a nearby house recently was approved for, and installed, a corrugated galvanized roof on the front porch, which created quite a stir in the neighborhood, provoking a backlash against anything metal.

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