The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Making the Case for Resilient Design

Posted on December 14, 2011 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

During my six-week bike ride last spring (during my sabbatical), I covered nearly 2,000 miles, most of it over land that hadn't seen a drop of rain since the previous fall; some of those areas — mostly in Texas — still haven't gotten significant precipitation. Farmers in Texas have had to plow their cotton under or slaughter their cattle. If the drought continues through the winter, power plants may have to start shutting down for want of cooling water.

To Capture Green Value, We Need a Long Perspective

Posted on December 13, 2011 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

If we let simple or even net-value payback analysis alone drive the economics of high-performance buildings, we might as well throw in the towel. It is truly crazy to apply just this approach to long-lived durable goods, such as homes.

How to Install Tile Over Concrete

Posted on December 12, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Tile can contribute thermal massHeavy, high-heat-capacity material that can absorb and store a significant amount of heat; used in passive solar heating to keep the house warm at night. to a passive solar house, and to Christa Campbell it would make a more appealing finish floor than concrete.

Although tile can be placed directly over a concrete slab, products such as Schluter’s Ditra are designed to separate, or “uncouple,” the tile from any potential movement in the substrate and protect the tile and grout from cracking.

The question for Campbell is whether using Ditra offsets some of the thermal mass gains in a passive-solar design.

A Plague of Bad Energy-Saving Tips

Posted on December 10, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Although I usually only publish one blog a week, I can’t resist posting a rare Saturday blog to rail against bad advice to homeowners from the Federal government and a national green building organization.

Martin’s Ten Rules of Roof Design

Posted on December 9, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Lots of things can go wrong with roofs: bad flashing can cause leaks, a poorly designed valley can turn into a slow-moving glacier, and misplaced gutters can do more harm than good. Experienced roofers see a lot of stupid roofs.

Blog Review: Equinox House

Posted on December 8, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Green Building Blog

You might call Ty Newell the reluctant engineer. At the University of Michigan in the early 1970s, he would rather have studied natural resources or liberal arts, but those programs were full. So he went into engineering, figuring he’d switch to one of his first choices in a semester or so.

Except that it never happened. His grade point average wasn’t high enough to get him into natural resources, and the prospect of being drafted for duty in Vietnam kept him from dropping out of school. So engineering it was going to be.

Back from Sabbatical

Posted on December 7, 2011 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Back in March I reported that I would be taking leave from this blog as I embarked on an eight-month sabbatical. With support from the Hanley Award I received last year, I was able to take an unpaid leave from BuildingGreen for some rejuvenation, reflection, research, and writing.

Das Haus Tour

Posted on December 6, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I attended an event in October called the Das Haus tour – a prefab “house” sponsored by the German Consulate General that will be roaming the country for about a year. The first stop was in Atlanta, so although I was one of the first people to see it, I don’t understand the point of the venture.

Should Historic Preservation Trump Energy Performance?

Posted on December 5, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Windows are often a dominant architectural feature in old houses. A six-over-six sash with wavy, bubbled glass has a charm that modern windows can only aspire to, more than offsetting their less-than-stellar energy performance.

Or so many local historical preservation committees would argue. And, as Mike Keesee has discovered, that’s a frustrating problem for builders and homeowners who want to make energy-efficient windows part of a renovation.

Books on Insulation and Energy-Efficient Building

Posted on December 2, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Two new books that might interest green builders recently caught my eye: The BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation Products and Practices by Alex Wilson and The JLC Guide to Energy Efficiency by the editors of The Journal of Light Construction.

Full disclosure: I was a minor participant in the creation of both books. At Wilson’s request, I reviewed portions of his manuscript before publication and provided feedback. I also wrote several of the articles appearing in the JLC book.

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