The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Garbage Disposal, Compost, or Landfill?

Posted on August 31, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

I have been having a lot of fun feeding worms my garbage. We have something you could either call a “worm bin” or a “home vermicomposting system,” and we throw our food scraps, banana peels, melon rinds, moldy bread — you name it — into that. There are a couple pounds of worms in the bin, and they gratefully accept the waste, eat it, and turn it into worm castings, which is basically organic matter that is broken down in such a way that it’s very good for our garden.

It’s Alive! Studying the Living Building Challenge

Posted on August 30, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I spent most of a day recently in a seminar on the Living Building Challenge (LBC), a self-described philosophy, advocacy tool, and certification program for sustainable building. If people outside the industry think that existing green building programs are pie-in-the-sky and touchy-feely, put together by granola-eaters, then they are going to have to adjust their scales for the LBC.

Are LEDs Worth Their Extra Cost?

Posted on August 29, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Standard incandescent light bulbs are among the most profligate energy consumers available, turning more than 90% of the energy they consume into heat rather than light. These old-school bulbs are inexpensive and cast a pleasingly warm light, but their days are numbered.

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are gradually taking their place. Although they’re more expensive, the cost is coming down and dimmable versions have become available. Bulb life is much longer and, more important, CFLs deliver much more light per watt of electricity than incandescent bulbs.

Installing Mineral Wool Insulation Over Exterior Wall Sheathing

Posted on August 26, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A subset of green builders have always been grumpy about foam. Such builders look at rigid foam panels and spray foam as suspect products: they are made from petroleum, laced with mysterious chemicals, and impermeable to vapor flow.

Job-Site Recycling: PVC

Posted on August 25, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Green Building Blog

Few building materials have caused more of a ruckus than polyvinyl chloride.

PVC is a light, durable and versatile plastic. Formed into a variety of building materials, it requires virtually no maintenance, and it never needs painting. These attributes make it seemingly ideal for door and window frames, pipe, floor tile, wall coverings, siding, and many other products.

Reviewing Submissions for Government Funding

Posted on August 24, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I just finished up two long days sitting in a conference room with over 25 other people reviewing green building proposals for a federal agency that must remain unnamed. Both interesting and mind-numbing, the process of reading, evaluating, grading, discussing, and writing reports was an arduous and informative process.

Some Home ‘Improvements’ Cry Out for Unimprovement

Posted on August 24, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

Home unimprovement, noun. During renovation, the removal from a building of misguided features or home “improvements” added during previous renovations.

It’s always satisfying to see a name given to a phenomenon that you already know well, and that is just what happened for me recently with “home unimprovement.” Yes, the prefix is intentional: home improvement can result in things that aren’t “improvements” at all, and the only logical thing to do is to “unimprove” them.

How to Sell Green Upgrades: A Few Small Things

Posted on August 23, 2011 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

Offering your client small upgrades that have tangible green benefits for them (and profit opportunities for you) always makes sense. And when your business is not as strong as you would like, it becomes even more imperative that you not let these opportunities slip away.

Here are two of my favorite easy-to-sell small upgrades that can improve the performance of your home and make you extra money to boot.

Concerns When Using Spray Foam in Retrofits

Posted on August 23, 2011 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

Both closed- and open-cell spray foams are used widely to improve the thermal performance of existing homes. Installed properly, it’s hard to beat spray foam’s contribution to air tightness and R-value. But we need to keep our eyes on three important issues: quality installation, worker protection during installation, and safe re-entry times.

How spray foams work

Planning a New Home: Where to Spend the Money?

Posted on August 22, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

A tight, well-insulated building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials. is fundamental to a high-performance house. So is a heating and cooling system that keeps it comfortable with a minimum input of energy. What happens when the construction budget can’t handle the added costs of high-quality windows and extra insulation as well as high-efficiency mechanicals?

That basic question is what’s plaguing Dave W as he works to complete plans for his new home.

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