The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

One Air Barrier or Two?

Posted on July 16, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Although building scientists have understood the advantages of airtight construction details for years, few residential plans include 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. details. That’s nuts.

Do the blueprints show where the air barrier goes?

Ideally, construction documents should show the location of a building’s air barrier, and should explain how the builder is expected to maintain air-barrier continuity at penetrations and important intersections.

Not So Big House, Green Building, and New Urbanism Converge

Posted on July 14, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Sarah Susanka, in a talk at a recent meeting of the Green Building Council of the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association, was her usual, charming self. Sharing ideas from several of her nine best-selling books about right-sized, well-designed homes, she moved deftly from architectural details to new urbanism. One of her more interesting points was the value of following your personal passions.

My 5th Commandment: Get Away From Work

Posted on July 14, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

The importance of recreation is probably one of the larger parts of my father’s legacy, which he has passed on to us kids over the years. He has always put great value on recreation. He believes that recreation should be thought of as “re-creation.” If you do not practice “re-creation,” he warns, then you will only achieve “wreck-reation.”

Controlling Humidity

Posted on July 13, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

High relative humidity is a significant problem in many regions of the country during the summer months. In hot weather, the higher the humidity, the less comfortable we are--partly because moisture does not evaporate from our skin as readily. More worrisome over the long haul, high humidity levels in the air and high moisture content of materials in our homes can result in mold growth, which, in turn, can cause allergies and other health problems (as well as damage the building itself).

Green Up Your Carpet Life-Cycle

Posted on July 12, 2010 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

Some background on carpet
Most carpet has three primary components: the soft tufted face fiber, the primary backing through which the face fiber is punched, and the secondary backing (the visible back side that locks the face fibers in place). Most residential carpet installations also include a separate cushion or pad.

Energy and Construction Photos from Greece

Posted on July 9, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

You can put away your building science notebooks; this blog is simply a collection of photos from my recent vacation in Greece.

While the purpose of my trip was relaxation, I still managed to point my camera at a few construction sites and examples of renewable-energy equipment.

Bathroom Walls, Mold, Vapor Barriers, and Building Codes–Where's the Love?

Posted on July 8, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Josh, a builder in Columbus, Ohio, has been hired to add a bathroom in the attic of an existing house. Although he had hoped to use cellulose insulationThermal insulation made from recycled newspaper or other wastepaper; often treated with borates for fire and insect protection. in exterior walls, the homeowner's budget allowed fiberglass batts. Josh was counting on the kraft paper facing on the insulation to serve as a vapor retarder, but to his surprise the building inspector insists the paper be removed before the insulation is installed.

What gives? And will the inspector's decision increase the risk of moisture problems in the bathroom, surely one of the most humid rooms in the house?

The DOE Showerhead Rule: Someone is all wet

Posted on July 7, 2010 by Peter Yost in Water Efficiency

You would think that establishing a definition for “showerhead” would be simple. But, as the Department of Energy (DOE) is discovering after issuing a draft interpretive rule on the matter, nothing is simple when it comes to getting people wet.

Some showerhead background
Back in early 1994, under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975, all showerheads manufactured in the U.S. could have a maximum flow no greater than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 psi. The intent, of course, was to save water, particularly hot water and its associated energy use.

Simple Strategies for Keeping Cool

Posted on July 6, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

We’re into those hot days of summer--really hot--with temperatures predicted in the mid- to upper-90s, even in Vermont, this week. In this column I’ll provide some simple tips for keeping (reasonably) cool in hot weather or, if you use air conditioning, operating that air conditioning equipment most efficiently.

Keep the sun out

When Sunshine Drives Moisture Into Walls

Posted on July 2, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Builders have worried about wintertime vapor diffusionMovement of water vapor through a material; water vapor can diffuse through even solid materials if the permeability is high enough. ever since 1938, when Tyler Stewart Rogers published an influential article on condensation in the Architectural Record. Rogers’ article, “Preventing Condensation in Insulated Structures,” included this advice: “A vapor barrier undoubtedly should be employed on the warm side of any insulation as the first step in minimizing condensation.”

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