The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Green Technical Assistance Providers Wanted

Posted on June 17, 2010 by Amy Hook in Green Communities

Enterprise Green Communities is seeking qualified consultants to expand its Technical Assistance Providers Network in response to the growing demand for specialized technical assistance designing, developing, and operating green affordable housing developments. Enterprise has released its second national Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to identify the nation’s leading green professionals in the residential building sector. The objective of this RFQ is to expand the delivery of technical assistance to local affordable housing developers.

Now’s the Time to Install Solar

Posted on June 15, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

This summer is a great time to get a good deal on a solar water heating or solar-electric (photovoltaic) system for your home. While I argued a few months ago in this column that the 30% federal solar tax credit has some flaws--key among them being that it’s based on the dollar value rather than performance and that there’s no cap on the cost of the system (and credit you can earn)--these aren’t reasons not to take advantage of it.

Using Ceiling Fans To Keep Cool Without AC

Posted on June 11, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

When I was a young backpacker traveling through India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand in the 1970s, I couldn’t afford air-conditioned hotels or restaurants. In these tropical conditions, I became quite accustomed to the benefits of Casablanca-style fans.

Although a fan can’t lower the temperature of the air, it can make people feel cooler. Moving air accelerates the rate at which perspiration evaporates from your skin. The evaporation process requires heat, so increased evaporation means that more heat is leaving your body.

Driving Our SUVs to the BP Protests

Posted on June 8, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I’m sorry, but the irony is just too thick these days. We Americans are rightly upset with BP for the devastating spill in the Gulf that is wreaking ecological devastation on a mammoth scale. But as I watch the television news and read the daily coverage, I’m not hearing enough outrage at our petroleum-dependent lifestyles and the gas-guzzling vehicles we hop into at a moment’s notice to drive to the store for a pint of ice cream. We need to hold a mirror up to ourselves at those protest rallies.

Green Building Products

Posted on June 7, 2010 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

We have spent quite a bit of time in this blog so far emphasizing how important process is in green building. But sooner or later if you are going to build or renovate, you have to actually select stuff, all kinds of stuff, from structural sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. to floor finishes to mechanical equipment.

I like to think of product selection as a 3-step process.

1 – Settle on green selection criteria

Should Green Homes Burn Wood?

Posted on June 4, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Environmentalists often argue over the wisdom of heating homes with wood. Strong arguments can be marshaled on both sides of this debate, so I’ll do my best to represent both positions before summing up.

WaterSense® Labeled New Homes Make Sense

Posted on June 1, 2010 by Peter Yost in Water Efficiency

Although EPA’s criteria for WaterSense labeled new homes were only recently released, custom and production builders from Georgia to Arizona, from Montana to Hawaii, are signing up. With typical overall water savings of more than 20 percent compared to other homes, WaterSense homes are just that—sensible.

A custom builder (and remodeler) perspective

Avoiding the Global Warming Impact of Insulation

Posted on June 1, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Can insulation materials, which we use to save energy and help prevent climate change, cause greenhouse gas emissions? Yes, in two ways.

First, it takes energy to produce and ship these materials—which we refer to as “embodied energy”—and using fossil fuels for these energy needs releases carbon dioxide (our most significant greenhouse gas). So in a sense, all insulation materials have embodied global warming potential (GWP).

Congress for the New Urbanism Lands in Atlanta

Posted on June 1, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I had the pleasure of attending the 18th Congress for the New Urbanism in Atlanta this year. I have been following the development of the New Urbanism movement since its early days, having been introduced to it by my friend Peter Katz, who wrote one of the first books on the subject, The New Urbanism, almost 20 years ago.

Housewrap in a Can: Liquid-Applied WRBs

Posted on May 28, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

When it’s time to cover wall sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. with a water-resistive barrierSometimes also called the weather-resistive barrier, this layer of any wall assembly is the material interior to the wall cladding that forms a secondary drainage plane for liquid water that makes it past the cladding. This layer can be building paper, housewrap, or even a fluid-applied material. (WRB), most residential builders choose plastic housewrap, asphalt felt, building paperTypically referring to Grade D building paper, this product is an asphalt-impregnated kraft paper that looks a lot like a lightweight asphalt felt. The Grade D designation has come to mean that the building paper passes ASTM D779 (minimum 10-minute rating with the “boat test”) and different products are called out as “30-minute” or even “60-minute” based on D779 results. At times confused with roofing felt, roofing felts and building paper differ in two ways: felts are made of recycled-content paper, building papers of virgin paper; felts are made of a heavier stock paper; building papers a lighter stock. See also roofing felt., or rigid foam sheathing. Some commercial builders, however, choose a fifth option: a liquid-applied building wrap.

Liquid-applied WRBs come in a bucket and are applied to wall sheathing or concrete blocks with a roller or a spray rig. These products cure to form a tenacious, flexible coating that seals small cracks and penetrations.

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