The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

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.”

Business is Great in Green Home Building and Remodeling

Posted on June 30, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

December 2009: Signed design contract for green design/build/remodel, 40-year-old suburban home; $90,000
Profile: Energy auditEnergy audit that also includes inspections and tests to assess moisture flow, combustion safety, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and durability., kitchen remodel, remedial HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. and insulation work
Status: Nearing completion as an ANSIAmerican National Standards Institute. National nonprofit membership organization that coordinates development of national consensus standards. Accreditation by ANSI signifies that the procedures used meet the Institute’s essential requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process. Bronze remodel; Performance Path

January 2010: Signed construction contract for a LEEDLeadership 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. home (Silver);
$601,000
Profile: 3,100 sq. ft., 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. everything, wired for electric car and 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., spray foam and cellulose, standing-seam roof, VOCVolatile organic compound. An organic compound that evaporates readily into the atmosphere; as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are organic compounds that volatize and then become involved in photochemical smog production.-free paints, PureBond cabinets, bamboo flooring

New Lighting for Historic Covered Bridge

Posted on June 29, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

One of Vermont’s longest and most treasured covered bridges now has the newest, most environmentally responsible lighting. This past weekend, the 267-foot West Dummerston Covered Bridge (the longest operating covered bridge fully within Vermont), built in 1872 by Caleb Lamsom and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was fitted with state-of-the-art LED lighting.

Green Specifications

Posted on June 29, 2010 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

Once you have selected your green building products, it would be great if you could simply tell everyone, “Here—use these.” But it is rarely that simple. Everyone has project documentation that serves three purposes: getting everyone on the same page (literally), delivering information for bidding, and establishing binding trade contracts.

How do selections, scopes of work, and specifications fit together?

Whether Wood Weathers

Posted on June 28, 2010 by Peter Yost in Building Science

The weathering of wood is very different from decay; weathering is breakdown at the surface only. While there are a number of forces that contribute to weathering of wood—moisture, temperature, abrasion by wind-borne particles, air pollution—it’s the narrow band of high-energy ultraviolet light in sunlight that is the dominant force (see Image #1).

What bare wood looks like when cut or milled

Green Building Programs Got Some ’Splainin’ to Do

Posted on June 26, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Much of my work these days is certifying homes under LEEDLeadership 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. , EarthCraft, 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., and the National Green Building Program (NGBP). My day-to-day work includes energy modeling and site inspections, but I find that I spend most of my time explaining and interpreting the different programs to builders, telling them what to do to achieve certification. Each program has minimum requirements, all slightly different. These requirements are not always straightforward or intuitive, and most builders struggle to do them right.

What Is a Deep Energy Retrofit?

Posted on June 26, 2010 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

I recently heard that a good blog is like a red party dress: long enough to cover the important parts, but short enough to maintain one's attention.

By that measure, the Green Architects' Lounge podcast episodes are like royal wedding gowns with long trains that flow down the aisle. This is great if you like wedding gowns, but ...

Because we feel that many short dresses are better than a single long one, we've decided to divide our episodes into smaller, more manageable parts, and release them with greater frequency.

(Time to switch metaphors...)

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