The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Resilient Design: Passive Solar Heat

Posted on January 12, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

As I discussed in last week's blog, a resilient home is extremely well insulated, so that it can be kept warm with very little supplemental heat — and if power or heating fuel is lost, for some reason, there won't be risk of homeowners getting dangerously cold or their pipes freezing. If we design and orient the house in such a way that natural heating from the sun can occur, we add to that resilience and further reduce the risk of the house getting too cold in the winter.

Passive solar heating

The First National Green Code — or Communism?

Posted on January 10, 2012 by Vera Novak in Guest Blogs

After a few false starts, the International Code Council (the code writing body for the U.S.) finally prevailed with the new International Green Construction Code, to be available in Spring 2012. Already there is media spin about the wonderful leadership shown by the U.S. in setting the example by providing such a code. Hoorah for the U.S.! I think…

Luxury Hybrid Cars and Green McMansions

Posted on January 9, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

This post was inspired by a car commercial for an Infiniti luxury hybrid sedan that boasts a 32 MPG highway rating, which means that it probably gets closer to about 23 MPG in normal use around town. I once owned an Infiniti - there’s something about nice leather, quality workmanship, and raw power that is quite intoxicating.

An Introduction to Thermal Imaging

Posted on January 6, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Energy auditors and insulation contractors have been using infrared cameras to diagnose home-performance problems for over 30 years. Without opening up your walls or ceilings for inspection, a trained specialist can use one of these cameras to locate insulation voids, air leaks, moisture intrusion, thermal bypasses, and thermal bridges. It’s even possible to use an infrared camera to locate leaks in hydronic tubing embedded in a slab.

Resilient Design: Dramatically Better Building Envelopes

Posted on January 5, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

When most people think about resilience — resilience to storms, for example — they think only about resilience during the event. Equally important, if not more important, I believe, is resilience in the aftermath of that event. Hurricanes, ice storms, blizzards, wildfires, tornadoes, and other natural disasters not only have an immediate impact, for which we may or may not be able to prepare, but they often have a much longer-term impact, usually through extended power outages.

Passivhaus and Spray Foam

Posted on January 4, 2012 by mike eliason in Guest Blogs

The Passive HouseA 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. Institute U.S. (PHIUS) has banned the use of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) with high global warming potential (GWP). The discussion on high GWP insulation was elevated in an excellent piece, “Avoiding the Global Warming Impact of Insulation,” written by Alex Wilson, the executive editor of Environmental Building News.

During Passivhaus training last year, it was stated that this could potentially be coming down the pipeline – so we weren’t surprised to see this pending regulation.

An Ecological Home Upgrade in Ireland

Posted on January 3, 2012 by Mike Haslam in Green Building Blog

Reprinted with permission from Construct Ireland magazine.

(At Least) Six Things Are Wrong With This Crawl Space

Posted on January 2, 2012 by Garrett Mosiman in Green Building Blog

Last week, GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com published a photo of a crawl space in an old house under the headline, “What's Wrong With This Picture?”

The photo showed an unvented crawl space in a cold climate. The home was built in 1885. This crawl space is attached to an adjacent concrete-floored basement. The foundation walls are made of mortared limestone.

Energy Predictions for 2012

Posted on December 30, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

As the sun sets on 2011 and we all turn our eyes to 2012, it’s time for journalists and consultants to publish their predictions for the coming year. I was briefly tempted to create such a list — something along the lines of “energy prices will be higher, the planet will be warmer, and many regions will be affected by drought” — until I remembered that I’ve always been bad at predicting.

For example, back in the late 1970s, I was convinced that energy prices would rise steeply during the 1980s. I was wrong.

Video: A Passivhaus Foundation

Posted on December 29, 2011 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

Scroll down this page to see a construction site video of the Karuna House in Yamhill County, Oregon, showing the installation of capillaryForces that lift water or pull it through porous materials, such as concrete. The tendency of a material to wick water due to the surface tension of the water molecules. break material on top of the footings to prevent moisture from wicking up the foundation walls.

The Karuna House was designed by Holst Architecture and built by Hammer & Hand of Portland, Oregon.

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