The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Ethanol Under Fire

Posted on November 21, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In my book, corn-based ethanol as a vehicle fuel has never been a good idea. But an in-depth investigation by Dina Cappiello and Matt Apuzzo of The Associated Press, published last week, outlines a lot of other reasons why we should finally kill this particular farm subsidy.

The 2015 IECC Recognizes Home Energy Ratings

Posted on November 20, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Great news, everyone! (If you read that in the voice of Professor Hubert Farnsworth, please don't let your imagination run away with you. This really is great news.) The HERS Index will part of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code. Why does that matter?

Because it will help home builders build better homes.

Air Leaks in Homes Insulated With Spray Foam

Posted on November 19, 2013 by Greg Labbe in Guest Blogs

If you’re retrofitting a vintage brick building without an air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both., don’t count on the spray foam to create a perfect air seal. If you plan to use the spray foam as your air barrier, it's important to test your work before you cover it with drywall so you can seal any air leaks.

One Minisplit or Two?

Posted on November 18, 2013 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Christopher Vernott is an architect at work on his own home — a tight, well-insulated house in southeastern Connecticut — and the time has come to rough-in the heating and cooling system.

Because of the double-stud wallConstruction system in which two layers of studs are used to provide a thicker-than-normal wall system so that a lot of insulation can be installed; the two walls are often separated by several inches to reduce thermal bridging through the studs and to provide additional space for insulation. construction, triple-glazed windows, and careful air-sealing, his heating and cooling loads are low, he writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor.

All About Embodied Energy

Posted on November 15, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

What’s embodied energyEnergy that goes into making a product; includes energy required for growth, extraction, and transportation of the raw material as well as manufacture, packaging, and transportation of the finished product. Embodied energy is often used to measure ecological cost., and is there any reason to pay attention to it? Embodied energy is the energy it takes to manufacture building materials. Until recently, it was safe to advise builders that it wasn’t worth worrying about embodied energy, because the amount of energy (especially heating energy and cooling energy) used to operate a building over the building’s lifetime dwarfed the relatively small amount of energy embodied in the building materials.

Does Vacuum Insulation Make Sense?

Posted on November 14, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I’ve recently worked on revising the BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation Products and Practices (available as part of a webcast), so I’ve been steeped in all sort of insulation materials, including some oddball products. One of those is vacuum insulation — the principle of a Thermos bottle.

In theory, vacuum insulation is a great idea. To understand why, it helps to know a bit about heat flow.

Spray Foam Insulation Is Not a Cure-All

Posted on November 13, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Spray foam insulation is a great product. Homes insulated with it can be some of the most efficient and comfortable homes built. I've been in plenty of homes insulated with spray foam and can tell you that, when done well, those homes are airtight and comfortable. I’ve also seen homes where the spray foam was a waste of money.

Making Slow Progress on My Renovation

Posted on November 12, 2013 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

After a couple of months of construction, I finally have more to report on my renovation project. It is moving more slowly and is costing more than I had expected, but it is moving along, the quality of work is excellent, and the end is in sight.

I am reminded almost every day why I decided to exit the renovation business – as exciting as it is to see construction progress, the time and energy it takes to make sure everything gets done right and on time exhausts me. This process has also been teaching me some important lessons about patience and right sized homes.

Can Solar Power Solve the Coal Problem?

Posted on November 8, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

I recently read a New York Times article on the coal problem. In the future, the article notes, we won’t be able to burn coal at our current rate, so there is an obvious need to make a transition to alternative sources of energy. According to the Times article, the most likely replacement for coal is solar energy.

Better National Distribution for Mineral Wool Batts

Posted on November 7, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Back in May of this year I wrote about a new rigid mineral wool insulation product from Roxul and how it can be used in place of foam-plastic insulation materials like polystyrene in certain applications. I've been revising the BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation Products and Practices and dug back into lots of insulation products. There are some new mineral wool developments to report.

Before getting into the details, here’s a little background: Mineral wool, variously referred to as rock wool, slag wool, and stone wool, was one of the first insulation materials to be widely produced commercially — starting back in 1871 in Germany.

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