The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

In Search of the Most Energy-Efficient Windows

Posted on July 26, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

It seems like a very long time ago, doesn't it, that windows were considered simple building components? As long as they opened and closed and let in sunlight most of us were content. We know now that windows are anything but simple. They're an essential part of an energy efficient building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials.; they must simultaneously admit sunlight (and a certain amount of solar energy — but not too much), minimize heat loss or gain, prevent drafts, and last a generation or two.

Green Building Vocabulary Disputes

Posted on July 23, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

As any builder knows, construction terms vary from job site to job site; one carpenter’s furring strip is another carpenter’s strapping. Like carpenters, building scientists are inconsistent when it comes to technical terms — in part because building science is a relatively young field.

In new fields of learning (including building science), vocabulary generally wanders at first, and eventually converges once consensus is reached. Reaching agreement on technical terms is useful. It helps achieve a desirable goal: efficient communication.

Work-Life Integration

Posted on July 22, 2010 by Michael Chandler, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

We all know people who hate their jobs and count the days until Friday or retirement. And we know folks who live for expensive hobbies and passions that consume their paychecks, or who count their worth by the size of their compensation package.

A Custom Builder’s Journey to Green

Posted on July 21, 2010 by Danny Kelly in Guest Blogs

I recently attended several conferences in Raleigh, North Carolina, few hours from my home: the national RESNET conference, the National Green Building Conference, the North Carolina Home Builders Association’s Building Code Council and Green Building Council. At each of these meetings, the new IRCInternational Residential Code. The one- and two-family dwelling model building code copyrighted by the International Code Council. The IRC is meant to be a stand-alone code compatible with the three national building codes—the Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) National code, the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) code and the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) code. Energy Code and the new 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. standards were discussed. (There are lots of big changes headed our way.)

Removing Moisture from Homes with Air Conditioners

Posted on July 20, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Last week, I addressed strategies for controlling moisture sources in homes during the summer — one of the contributors to discomfort during hot humid summers. This week, I’ll examine how to remove unwanted humidity using air conditioning equipment, starting with some fundamentals.

To understand moisture removal, it’s important to brush up on a bit of physics. Air is able to hold only a finite amount of water vapor, and that amount is governed by the temperature of the air.

My 3rd Commandment: Change Orders Are Nothing But Trouble

Posted on July 20, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

Fast-forward another 10, 20, 50 years to the state of green building, and the average builder will be using as many green building design techniques, construction methodologies, products, and materials as the most cutting edge green builders are using today. In short, a massive shift is under way whereby today’s standard construction techniques are fast becoming obsolete. And I mean fast!

Deep Energy Retrofit: Focus on the Envelope

Posted on July 20, 2010 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

This is part two of the Green Architects' Lounge three-part series on deep energy retrofits.

In this episode, Phil and I discuss what we believe is the most crucial part of a DER: the exterior building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials..

There is no single solution. Here, we must be nimble and thoughtful, and deal with the structure that we're given and apply the skills we've learned (and by we, I mean all of you listeners as well).

Are Tankless Water Heaters Really Green?

Posted on July 19, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Tankless water heaters have one advantage over conventional storage units: no standby losses. Instead of keeping water hot around the clock, regardless of whether it's actually needed, tankless units heat water only when a tap or an appliance is turned on. By rights, this should mean lower energy consumption, a decidedly green advantage.

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.

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