The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Massachusetts Owner-Builders Complete a Superinsulated Home

Posted on May 21, 2013 by Spartan Giordano in Guest Blogs

The superinsulated home that I designed and built for my family of three in Greenfield, Massachusetts has been comfortable for the entire year and serves as an example of successful design for our climate. We moved in to our new home in February 2012.

Modest in size, our home measures 26 feet by 32 feet and has 1,500 square feet of living space, with two full floors plus a partial third floor tucked into the slopes of the cathedral ceiling. In order to decrease the overall volume while maximizing south-facing exposure, we chose a saltbox shape.

Pondering an Attic Conversion

Posted on May 20, 2013 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Rob Graff is getting a new roof, and with it an opportunity to turn his vented attic into an insulated, conditioned spaceInsulated, air-sealed part of a building that is actively heated and/or cooled for occupant comfort. .

But he’s also got some concerns.

Energy Upgrades for Beginners

Posted on May 17, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Owners of older homes often contact GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com and ask, “What can I do to make my home more energy-efficient?” My standard answer goes something like this: “The first step is to hire a certified rater to perform an energy auditEnergy audit that also includes inspections and tests to assess moisture flow, combustion safety, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and durability. of your home. The audit report will include a tailor-made list of retrofit measures to address your home’s specific problems.”

Makin’ WUFI

Posted on May 17, 2013 by alan abrams in Guest Blogs

If you are ever suffering from insomnia, call me, and I will tell you all I learned about WUFI-Passive. It is the blessing (or curse?) of geekdom that ledLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. me enroll in a three-day-long WUFI-Passive training class (sponsored by PHIUS — 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 of the United States) in downtown Chicago in early April.

Mineral Wool Boardstock Insulation Gains Ground

Posted on May 16, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Readers of this Energy Solutions blog may be aware that I’ve been critical of some of our foam-plastic insulation materials. I’ve come down hardest on extruded polystyrene (XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation.), which is made both with a blowing agent that contributes significantly to global warming and with a brominated flame retardant, HBCD, that’s slated for international phaseout as a persistent organic pollutant.

New Video: Stump the Energy Nerd, Part 1

Posted on May 15, 2013 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com has released a video of the “Stump the Energy Nerd” event presented at NESEANorth East Sustainable Energy Association. A regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA is committed to advancing three core elements: sustainable solutions, proven results and cutting-edge development in the field. States included in this region stretch from Maine to Maryland. www.nesea.org's Building Energy 13 conference in Boston. The video was recorded on March 6, 2013.

The event was intended as a combination of light entertainment and education. However, most of the audience members seemed more interested in getting answers to their construction and energy questions than they were in stumping Holladay.

Does Your Air Barrier Work in Both Directions?

Posted on May 15, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Do you want a good 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. on your house? Of course you do. No one who knows anything at all about building science believes that old myth that a house needs to breathe. We want airtight houses, but then we want mechanical ventilation to bring in fresh air from outside (well, at least as fresh as you can get from your outside).

Wrapping an Older House with Rock Wool Insulation

Posted on May 14, 2013 by Mark Yanowitz in Guest Blogs

When I first met Chris Gleba and Kris Erickson in December 2011 to discuss their plans for a deep energy retrofit, Chris told me that he had been remodeling his modest two-bedroom house in Lowell, Massachusetts, for over ten years. He had painstakingly rewired and re-plumbed the house and had made energy efficiency improvements (including the installation of a high-efficiency natural gas boiler and radiant in-floor heating). He had also devoted much sweat equity towards upgrading the interior finishes of the kitchen and baths.

Self-Professed Air Flow Expert Gets Hosed

Posted on May 13, 2013 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

Among the multitude of sessions at the ACI conference in Denver recently (a total of at least 180 sessions by my count), there was a very interesting half-day workshop on airflow testing hosted by Bruce Manclark and Paul Francisco. Their setup included simulated HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. ducts of various shapes and sizes, and they used a Minneapolis Duct BlasterCalibrated air-flow measurement system developed to test the airtightness of forced-air duct systems. All outlets for the duct system, except for the one attached to the duct blaster, are sealed off and the system is either pressurized or depressurized; the work needed by the fan to maintain a given pressure difference provides a measure of duct leakage. to provide air flow to test various measurement tools.

Passivhaus Buildings Don’t Heat Themselves

Posted on May 10, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

For years, the English-language website of the Passivhaus Institut in Germany provided this definition: “A 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. is a building in which a comfortable interior climate can be maintained without active heating and cooling systems. The house heats and cools itself, hence ‘passive.’”

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