The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Helping People With Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Posted on June 17, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you are a designer or builder specializing in green building, it’s only a matter of time before you are approached by a client who suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity. A typical request might go like this: “Many ordinary building materials can make me sick. I’m looking for someone to design (or build) me a house without any toxic chemicals.”

What’s the best way to respond to such a potential customer? To answer this question, let’s turn first to the medical experts.

Blog Review: Tim Eian

Posted on June 15, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Green Building Blog

Tim Delhey Eian is a German-trained architect and Master Carpenter whose Minneapolis firm, TE Studio, specializes in 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. design. His blog, Tim Eian is, unsurprisingly, about all things Passivhaus.

Ten Steps to Clean Up a Broken CFL

Posted on June 14, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

At a wedding last weekend, I heard the following story third-hand, attributed to a local landscape designer.

There was a large group of relatives of this gentleman who had lived their lives in Dorchester, Mass. — in the Boston metro area — and had never gone anywhere else. Ever.

How to Cheat* at LEED: Part 2

Posted on June 14, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Now that all of you who read the first column in this series think you are experts at working the LEED for HomesLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. system, I will show you some of the points that are much harder to qualify for along with a few that are pretty easy, but they are not very obvious and you have to know about them to take them.

The Downside of Structural Steel

Posted on June 13, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Brandon M. is building a three-story house in Seattle whose design includes cantilevers on the second and third floors. The designer has specified steel I-beams to provide the structural support in this modernist design, and this is what’s giving Brandon pause for thought.

Without Technical Assistance, Policy Efforts Fall Flat

Posted on June 10, 2011 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

From guest blogger Alison Corwin, New Ecology

How Is a Home’s HERS Index Calculated?

Posted on June 10, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Anyone involved with the Energy Star HomesA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program to promote the construction of new homes that are at least 15% more energy-efficient than homes that minimally comply with the 2004 International Residential Code. Energy Star Home requirements vary by climate. program has probably heard of the HERSIndex or scoring system for energy efficiency established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) that compares a given home to a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Reference Home based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. A home matching the reference home has a HERS Index of 100. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is. A typical existing home has a HERS Index of 130; a net zero energy home has a HERS Index of 0. Older versions of the HERS index were based on a scale that was largely just the opposite in structure--a HERS rating of 100 represented a net zero energy home, while the reference home had a score of 80. There are issues that complicate converting old to new or new to old scores, but the basic formula is: New HERS index = (100 - Old HERS score) * 5. Index, a method of scoring the energy efficiency of a new or existing home. A Web page maintained by the state of Arkansas, for example, explains that the “EPA requires a house qualifying for 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. to be built with best practices, tight ducts, and at least 15% more energy efficient than code as shown by a HERS Index score of 85 or less as determined by a HERS Rater.”

How to Sell Green Upgrades: Exhaust Fans

Posted on June 9, 2011 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

You know every little bit helps. Whether you are helping a customer select a higher quality bath exhaust fan or you are making more money on the fans you sell, it all adds up, benefiting you and your customer. So don’t ignore the following opportunity to affect positive change with a small but important product — and make a couple of extra dollars along the way.

Net-Zero Homes, Part 1

Posted on June 8, 2011 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

You can also subscribe to the Green Architects' Lounge on iTunes. That way, you'll never miss a show—and it's free.

Helping Architects, Contractors, and Homeowners Get Greener

Posted on June 7, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

One of the side benefits of being on a long bus trip like the one to the Koetter millwork plant is that people talk quite a bit. Not being particularly shy, I talked a lot about high-performance homes and green building when given the opportunity. Conversations often started out with the “it’s so expensive” or “it’s too hard” sort of comments, which provided me the opportunity to dispel those myths — which I believe I did with occasional success.

Register for a free account and join the conversation

Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!