The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Top 10 Air Leaks in Existing Homes – Part 2

Posted on November 16, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

From an energy-efficiency standpoint, the trouble with owning an old home is that you’re stuck with whatever bad decisions the previous owners made, and historical trends also tend to work against you. The trouble with building a new home is that you are the one that is going to make the bad decisions.

The best opportunity to make important decisions that will deliver energy efficiency for the life of the home is during design. There is rapid diminution of these opportunities during construction and then during use of the home.

From Designed to Built, Part 2: Three Questions

Posted on November 15, 2011 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

So now it's time to get the builder involved in your green project. In Part One of this episode, we shared the views of the design team; but what do the builders think? How would they like to get involved? To find out, Phil and I asked three prominent builders to join us in a a round of “Three Questions.” Let's meet our contestants.

Michael Chandler is a contributor here on GBA and is the president of Chandler Design-Build. He has been designing and building high-performance homes since 1978.

Paul Eldrenkamp is the owner of Byggmeister Design Build in Boston. Established in 1983, his company places a high value on the customer relationship and sustainable design / build methods.

Dan Kolbert is the owner of Kolbert Building in Portland, Maine, where, for over twenty years, he has been moving his company and the market toward sustainable construction.

Phil and I both really appreciate their participation and want to convey our thanks. Are you ready to play? Come on down!

The transcript below includes the answers provided by Chandler, Eldrenkamp, and Kolbert. To hear our reactions to their answers, be sure to listen to the Podcast.

How to Track Down Leaks in Forced-Air Ductwork

Posted on November 14, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Leaky ducts in a forced-air heating and cooling system are an all-too-common problem contributing to significant energy losses and lower indoor air quality.

Mark Renfrow knows that. Duct tests at his 3,400-sq. ft. home revealed “huge leakage.” A contractor addressed the problem by applying mastic to any accessible ductwork. But the key word is “accessible.” Many parts of the system apparently are not so easy to reach.

More Energy Myths

Posted on November 11, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Energy myths are persistent, in spite of the fact that energy experts spend a good deal of time performing debunking duty. Many energy experts collect misguided energy-saving tips as a hobby, and pick the myths apart with the dedication of an 18th-century amateur scientist.

In a previous blog, I presented my own list of ten energy myths.

PODCAST: How to Insulate an Unvented Roof

Posted on November 10, 2011 by Daniel Morrison in Green Building Blog

Attics are a great place to reclaim living space without the expense of an addition. If you have the headroom, you can gain at least one extra room by finishing your attic.

But with energy codes requiring more and more insulation, it can be difficult to pack all of that R-value into the skinny little rafters that are common in older houses.

Blog Review: GreenBridge

Posted on November 10, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Green Building Blog

Juli MacDonald is an architect and accredited LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. professional who worked in Chicago for 20 years before relocating to the East Coast and eventually opening her own firm in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in 2007.

Later that year she started writing the GreenBridge blog. It’s named after her firm, which concentrates on residential additions and remodels.

How to Make a SIP Roof Better

Posted on November 9, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Roger Lin’s Washington, D.C., house will have a roof of 12-inch-thick structural insulated panels (SIPs). By most standards, that’s a well-insulated roof. But Lin wants to add 2 inches of rigid foam on top of the panels to reduce thermal bridgingHeat flow that occurs across more conductive components in an otherwise well-insulated material, resulting in disproportionately significant heat loss. For example, steel studs in an insulated wall dramatically reduce the overall energy performance of the wall, because of thermal bridging through the steel. .

He’s uncertain about the details. He has already installed roofing underlayment over the panels. Can he put expanded polystyrene foam on top of the underlayment and cap it with metal roofing? Or does he need a layer of plywood or furring strips over the foam before the metal roofing is installed?

A New Way to Generate Solar Electricity

Posted on November 9, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

An environmentalist dies and reports to the pearly gates, but there is a mix-up and she is sent to the gates of hell. Once in hell, she is horrified by the air and water pollution, global warming, and habitat destruction. But she gets to work to improve the situation, and soon the hellscape is covered with grass and plants, the food is organic, the air is clean, and the people are happy.

The Piecemeal Approach to Green Building

Posted on November 8, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Almost every time I am talking with someone about green building, whether a potential or current client, or just a casual conversation, inevitably solar power comes up. This causes me to go into full on curmudgeon mode, pointing out that solar panels are pretty much pointless on homes until you’ve done everything else you can to make it more efficient and healthy. Solar is hot, trendy, hip, something you can touch (and might want to touch, as opposed to insulation), and a marketer’s dream, as are many other building products, all of which are seem to be labeled “green.”

Are You a Green Building Geek, Nerd, Dork, or Dweeb?

Posted on November 8, 2011 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I hear a lot of people call themselves building science geeks, energy nerds, green building dorks, HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. dweebs, weatherization wonks, and policy poindexters. (It's true! Some of them are imaginary people in my mind and some are aliens, but they really do say that.) What I see, though, is that most such people seem to throw these words around without understanding which is which and how dorks and nerds and geeks and dweebs differ.

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