The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Are Seven Heads Better Than Three?

Posted on August 20, 2012 by ScottG in Q&A Spotlight

John Bell, building a 3300-sq. ft. house in eastern Pennsylvania, is weighing his options for heating and cooling, and it comes down to a conventionally ducted air-source heat pumpHeat pump that relies on outside air as the heat source and heat sink; not as effective in cold climates as ground-source heat pumps. or a multi-head ductless minisplit system made by Fujitsu.

Just Two Minisplits Heat and Cool the Whole House

Posted on August 17, 2012 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Carter Scott was one of the first builders bold enough to build a cold-climate home heated by only two ductless minisplit units (one in the downstairs living room, and one in the upstairs hallway). Skeptics predicted that the unheated bedrooms would be cold and uncomfortable. Yet Scott was confident that the home’s excellent thermal envelope — with high-R walls, triple-glazed windows, and low levels of air leakage — would keep the homeowners comfortable even when the bedroom doors were closed.

The End of Peak Oil?

Posted on August 16, 2012 by AlexWilson in Energy Solutions

I first wrote about “peak oil” in 1998, reporting on an in-depth article in Scientific American by petroleum geologists Colin Campbell, PhD, and Jean Laherrère. Campbell and Laherrère believed that up to that time the world had consumed about 800 billion barrels of oil (BBO), and the known reserves of conventional crude oil totaled about 850 bbl in 1996 and another 200 BBO of conventional oil was yet to be discovered.

Photovoltaics, Part 1: Shedding Light on the Basics

Posted on August 15, 2012 by ChrisBriley in Green Architects' Lounge

In order to understand whether a photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) system is appropriate for the project you're working on, you really have to understand the metrics and basics of solar electric systems.

Phil and I sat down, turned on the mic, and did our best to convey the basic concepts and rules of thumb that most green professionals should know. Of course, this episode lays the groundwork for Part 2, in which we will cover the financial implications of a PV system.

Will Passivhaus Remain a Boutique Program?

Posted on August 14, 2012 by ab3 in Building Science

This weekend I bought my ticket to Denver for the Passive House conference at the end of September. The program has intrigued me since I first found out about it in 2007, but I haven't gotten involved with it yet. That may be changing now.

Plans and Pricing for Our House in Maine

Posted on August 13, 2012 by user-961160 in Guest Blogs

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the fourth article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

So far, we have been guesstimating how much this project will cost. Yes, we could use estimates based on cost per square foot, but there are are several design factors that influence that equation.

Living Without Electricity Bills

Posted on August 10, 2012 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Chuck Reiss, a builder in northwest Vermont, had a bold plan in 2007: he wanted to build a cluster of six superinsulated homes on a 24-arce site in Hinesburg. Reiss planned to install a roof-mounted PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. array on each house, with the goal of making the homes net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines., or close to it.

Fixing Those Drainage Problems, 30 Years Later

Posted on August 9, 2012 by AlexWilson in Energy Solutions

When I bought the house in West Dummerston, Vermont, where my wife and I have lived for the past thirty years, one of the first things I did was fix the drainage problems that were dumping water into our basement…

Or so I thought. Let me explain.

Why Doesn’t Heat Flow Backwards?

Posted on August 8, 2012 by ab3 in Building Science

Why can't you put a cup of cold coffee on the table, wait a moment, and then enjoy a nice cup of hot coffee? We do the opposite all the time, but what makes the direction of hot-to-cold so special? If you've studied physics or taken a class in building science, you've heard that the answer is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. But what does that really mean?

Selecting a General Contractor

Posted on August 7, 2012 by user-961160 in Guest Blogs

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the third article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

What’s the best way to pick a residential general contractor (GC)? There are many books written on the subject. I want to focus this blog on one specific aspect: the point in time that the GC becomes a member of the team along with the architect and the homeowner.

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