The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

7 Steps to an Energy-Efficient House: 7. Renewable Energy

Posted on May 19, 2010 by Betsy Pettit in Guest Blogs

Editor's introduction: With energy prices rising again, many homeowners are planning energy-efficiency improvements to their homes. But most people are unsure of where to begin, and even seasoned builders don’t always know which priorities should rise to the top of the list. Betsy Pettit, an architect at Building Science Corporation, recommends starting where you can get the most bang for the buck.

Bloom Box Rekindles Excitement About Fuel Cells

Posted on May 18, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

The high-profile roll-out of the highly secretive Bloom Box fuel cellElectrochemical device in which electricity is generated by chemically reacting hydrogen with oxygen; electricity, water vapor, and heat are the only products. Unlike a battery, which stores a limited fuel supply used to create electricity, a fuel cell draws on an ongoing supply of fuel to produce electricity continuously., on CBS’s 60 Minutes in February, ushered in a new round of excitement about fuel cells.

Fuel cells have been around for over 50 years. They are, in essence, chemical batteries that churn out electricity as long as a fuel, such as hydrogen or natural gas, is fed in at the other end. They have been a mainstay of power generation in NASA’s space program for decades and have slowly been making inroads for more earthly applications.

How Can I Make Old Windows More Energy Efficient?

Posted on May 15, 2010 by Daniel Morrison in Q&A Spotlight

Q I want to increase the R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. of the single-pane windows in my 44-year-old house in New Hampshire. I am considering using movable window insulation. Is this insulation good for limiting excess heat gainIncrease in the amount of heat in a space, including heat transferred from outside (in the form of solar radiation) and heat generated within by people, lights, mechanical systems, and other sources. See heat loss. in summer? The windows also fogTo fog a room or building is to use a fog machine during a blower door test, revealing locations of air leaks where the fog escapes. The fogging material is usually a glycol-based solution, completely non-toxic. up easily. Will inner storm windows prevent the fogging and provide more R-value? Can you suggest other alternatives?
-Patrick Clary, Dover, N. H.

A Leaky Old House Becomes a Net-Zero Showcase

Posted on May 14, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Jane Bindley had a dream: to turn her 1978 ranch in central New Hampshire into a net-zero-energy house. How hard could that be?

As it turned out, pretty hard. But with help from a dedicated team of experts and a generous budget, Bindley achieved her dream.

How to Comply with the New EPA Lead Law

Posted on May 12, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Green Building Blog

You are not alone out there in the run up to new lead paint laws that take effect on April 22 of 2010. For us the law won’t alter the way we do business on a whole bunch of jobs since the majority of our projects are on homes born after 1977--homes to which the law does not apply. We work mostly in the suburbs, and considering the enthusiasm with which this city sprawled through the last quarter of the 20th century, there is no shortage of 15-30 year-old homes that need help.

Fiber Optics for Daylighting

Posted on May 11, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Fiber optics, that miracle of modern communications, can also be used to deliver natural light to spaces deep in a building.

Green Building Tip: Test Your HVAC System

Posted on May 11, 2010 by Daniel Morrison in Green Building Blog

Even well-designed mechanical systems can become sources of indoor air quality problems (or can waste energy) if they are incorrectly installed, so it's important to make sure heating and cooling systems work as designed before the house is occupied. It's critical to test the systems (including duct work) before anyone moves into the house. That's almost always cheaper than dealing with the equipment after problems become obvious.

This testing — sometimes called "commissioningProcess of testing a home after a construction or renovation project to ensure that all of the home's systems are operating correctly and at maximum efficiency. " — should follow the "TAB" approach: test, adjust, balance.

7 Steps to an Energy-Efficient House: 6. Appliances

Posted on May 10, 2010 by Betsy Pettit in Green Building Blog

Editor's introduction: With energy prices rising again, many homeowners are planning energy-efficiency improvements to their homes. But most people are unsure of where to begin, and even seasoned builders don’t always know which priorities should rise to the top of the list. Betsy Pettit, an architect at Building Science Corporation, recommends starting where you can get the most bang for the buck.

Step 6: Buy 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. (or better) fixtures, appliances, and lighting

Best Construction Details for Deep-Energy Retrofits

Posted on May 7, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A collection of experts working on deep-energy retrofits recently attended a brainstorming session to share design tips and propose topics for further research.

The conference, formally titled the “Expert Meeting for Details for Deep Energy Retrofits,” was held in Boston on March 12. The meeting was funded by the Department of Energy’s Building America program and hosted by the Building Science Corporation.

Water: The Backseat Driver

Posted on May 6, 2010 by Peter Yost in Water Efficiency

When we talk about the environment and environmentally responsible building, it’s almost always energy that takes the spotlight, with water pretty far down the list. But it’s not hard to see just how much of a back seat driver water can be:

We don’t have any substitutes for clean water and we use a ton of it every day. Actually, more like a ton and a half; the typical US household uses 400 gallons of water a day and that’s about 3200 pounds! (Source: EPA WaterSense)

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