The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

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.]

Why Is the U.S. Green Building Council So Out of Touch?

Posted on October 29, 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Yesterday I read a short interview with Rick Fedrizzi,* the CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and it got me to thinking about that organization. They're probably the largest, most well known green building organization in the world.

Fans in the Attic: Do They Help or Do They Hurt?

Posted on October 26, 2012 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding attic fans. Here at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com, we regularly receive e-mails from homeowners with questions about attic fans: What’s the purpose of the fan in my attic? How often should I run it? Do I need a bigger fan?

Before addressing these recurring questions, it’s important to define our terms. First, we need to distinguish between three different types of ventilation fans.

Heating With Wood Pellets

Posted on October 25, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

My wife and I have a sort-of love-hate relationship with our pellet stove. She leans more toward the latter, while I see the benefits outweighing the negatives.

In this column I’ll outline the primary advantages and disadvantages of pellet heating.

An Induction Cooktop for Our Kitchen

Posted on October 24, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

We don't often think about the energy we use for cooking. In the most economically disadvantaged countries, gathering energy for cooking is a major component of people's time (mostly women), and smoke from wood cooking fires is a significant health issue. One great solution for these people is solar cookers, and this organization is my favorite non-profit, because it helps the planet's poorest people while doing environmental good.

New Video Series: Airtight Drywall

Posted on October 23, 2012 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

Stopping air leaks is the single most important part of making a house more energy efficient. Every building needs at least one, and sometimes two, air barriers. One of the most common ways to install an interior air barrier is to follow the Airtight Drywall Approach.

Passive House New England’s Fall Symposium

Posted on October 22, 2012 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

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 is hosting a one-day conference in Boston with presentations on a variety of topics that are likely to interest GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com readers, including "Passive House and Cost Optimization in the South."

Among the speakers scheduled for the upoming event are Adam Cohen, Chris Corson, Jesse Thompson, Marc Rosenbaum, and Martin Holladay.

The symposium will be held at the University of Massachusetts - Boston on Saturday October 27. The cost to attend is $75 (or $35 for students).

Why Don’t More HVAC Contractors Own Duct Leakage Testers?

Posted on October 22, 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. contractors own a lot of equipment. Of course, they have pressure gauges to test refrigerant charge in air conditioners and heat pumps, and many more pieces of technical equipment. One piece that few contractors own, however, is a duct leakage tester.

With more and more state energy codes requiring duct leakage tests, doesn't it seem obvious that HVAC contractors need to be like plumbers and test their own work before passing it off?

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