The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

In Mali, Mud Hut Upgrades Are Nixed by World Heritage Label

Posted on January 12, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I’ve never been there, but according to a recent article in the New York Times (sorry if I am relying on this paper too much for inspiration), the city of Djenne, Mali, is a veritable museum of historic mud brick buildings. Among them is the Grand Mosque, the largest mud brick, or adobe, building in the world, originally built in the 13th century and replaced with the current building in 1907.

Is Double-Stud Wall Construction the Path to Efficiency on a Budget?

Posted on January 10, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

UPDATED with an expert opinion from Bruce King

Writing from Glacier, Washington, Karen Bean faces a home-building dilemma that confronts many thousands of people: what's the best way to insulate the walls of her new house on a modest budget?

She has $150,000 to spend on the two-bedroom, two-bathroom house, which she plans to build on a foundation originally intended for a traditional house. Although the concrete-block foundation is well made, it's not necessarily well matched to the double 2x4 walls she's hoping to use.

Net-Zero-Energy versus Passivhaus

Posted on January 7, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

In Europe, builders interested in energy efficiency are gravitating to the PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. standard. Meanwhile, American researchers — and a few American builders — have developed a fascination with the idea of the net-zero-energy house. The U.S. Department of Energy has established as a goal that new buildings in the U.S. will be built to a net-zero-energy standard by 2030.

Blog Review: Energy Vanguard Blog

Posted on January 7, 2011 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

by Martin Holladay

GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com is launching a new feature: periodic reviews of interesting blogs. To get the ball rolling, I’m recommending the Energy Vanguard blog.

The author of the Energy Vanguard blog, Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a RESNET-accredited energy consultant and trainer. He performs heat loss calculations, provides HERS rating services, and provides rater training and Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. training, among other services.

Is There a Downside to Lumpy Attic Insulation?

Posted on January 6, 2011 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

If your attic is going to have 50 bags of insulation blown into it, does it make much of a difference if it goes in flat or lumpy?

One reason that I'm interested in the question is that my dissertation in grad school was called “Flat or Lumpy.” (Of course, it had the requisite incomprehensibility in the subtitle, with words like “heteroepitaxy.”) Those two words in the title, which cut to the heart of what my surface physics research was all about, also describe a property of insulation that's important in building science.

Thoughts on the Future of Petroleum

Posted on January 5, 2011 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

It's fitting that this first blog of 2011 takes a look into the crystal ball — at the energy source that pretty-much defines our culture.

NY Times Section, ‘A Sustainable Life,’ Leaves Out Buildings?!

Posted on January 5, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

The first New York Times Week in Review section of 2011 was all about sustainability. There was an article on love, two on food, one about high-tech gadgets, and one about budgets. That’s all well and good, but what about those buildings where we spend about 90% of our time? Maybe green building has become so overexposed in the media that the editors decided to give it a break.

How to Live Comfortably Off the Grid

Posted on January 3, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

UPDATED: 1/3/11 with expert opinions from Mark Sevier and Peter Yost

Chris Koehn will be building a 1,600-sq.-ft. home in British Columbia for owners who want to heat primarily with wood. They envision a wood-burning cookstove and a fireplace, and they'd also like to incorporate some solar capability.

Because of its island location, the house will be off the electricity grid.

GBA To Go!

Posted on January 2, 2011 by Daniel Morrison in Green Building Blog

Try out this app for mobile phones. I built it at widgetbox.com using the free site. It will be available for the next couple of weeks at which point, it will either go away or I'll pony up the cash to buy a subscription.

Bookmark this link on your iPhone or Android phone and you're mobile:
http://wbxapp.com/gba-blog-feed

Creating a Conditioned Attic

Posted on December 31, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED April 22, 2014

Millions of Americans live in states where residential HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. contractors routinely install ductwork in unconditioned attics. In many cases, these attics also contain a variety of appliances, including air handlers, furnaces, or water heaters.

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