The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Good News Bad News With Climate Change

Posted on February 23, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

During these spring-like days in mid-February in Vermont, it's hard not to think about climate change. It's been reaching the mid- and upper-40s over the past few weeks in a winter that really isn't. Yes, this particular year might be an anomaly (after all, Europe is experiencing record cold this winter), but increasingly, scientists believe the long-term trend is clearly warming.

Summertime, and the Living is Easy

Posted on February 22, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

You may or may not be aware of this, but I have spent much of the last three years writing Green Building: Principles and Practices in Residential Construction, the first textbook on residential green building, with my friend and associate Abe Kruger. It was finally published in January, and as of February 4th, we were ranked as high as 192,000 on Amazon’s bestseller list!

High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 4

Posted on February 21, 2012 by Ann Edminster, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

In days of yore, buildings were designed and built by master builders. These were people who spent their whole lives learning about buildings by creating them – from idea to reality – working side by side with others, many of whom who had more experience than they did. That’s how they eventually achieved mastery. Practice, repetition, and observation of everything to do with the building’s creation.

Regional Variations on the ‘Pretty Good House’

Posted on February 20, 2012 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

The building-science-and-beer group that meets every month in Portland, Maine, recently launched a discussion of suggested specifications for a “pretty good house” — a house that seeks to balance construction cost and energy performance without being constrained by the dictates of existing green building programs or rating systems. Michael Maines's blog on that topic has generated dozens of comments, and GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com has received several e-mails from readers with suggestions for regional variations on the “pretty good house” concept.

An Introduction to Photovoltaic Systems

Posted on February 17, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

By now, 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.) panels are familiar to most Americans. You’ve seen them on your hand-held calculator, on top of illuminated highway signs, and maybe even on your neighbors’ roofs. With PV systems becoming more common, perhaps you’ve been dreaming of making some homemade electricity. The dream is achievable, as long as you own a sunny patch of lawn or an unshaded south-facing rooftop, and as long as you have a bank balance of several thousand dollars.

Local Food and Resilience

Posted on February 16, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In this final installment of my ten-part series on resilient design, I'm taking a look at where our food comes from and how we can achieve more resilient food systems.

The average salad in the U.S. is transported roughly 1,400 miles from farm to table, and here in the Northeast, we get most of our fresh food from more than 3,000 miles away. Even in Iowa, where 95% of the land area is in agricultural production, one is hard-pressed to buy locally grown produce.

Who Knew the Stack Effect Could Be So Controversial?

Posted on February 15, 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Recently, I wrote a little article about the stack effect to explain that the flow of air and heat is upward in winter but downward in summer. Turns out, the stack effect is a hot topic. That article has gotten 25 comments so far. When I posted it to the RESNET BPI group on LinkedIn, it got another 22 comments.

(At Least) Four Things Are Wrong With This Picture

Posted on February 14, 2012 by Rob Hammon in Green Building Blog

Last week we published this photo as part of our “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” series. The photo shows a substandard fiberglass insulation job that was representative of an entire residential subdivision that hoped to qualify 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.. Examples like this show that quality control by 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. raters is a weak link in the Energy Star program.

Diabetes and Green Building

Posted on February 13, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I barely know who Paula Deen is, although from what I can tell, she seems to be quite the marketer of traditional southern cooking as well as herself. (I may be a little jealous of her self-promotion skills). Her latest big news is that after years of eating and promoting heavy, butter-laden food, she has gone public with her Type-2 diabetes, a condition she has had for three years.

All About Water Heaters

Posted on February 10, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you want to save energy, there are lots of exciting appliances and building materials that you might want to specify for your home: triple-glazed windows, an efficient refrigerator, and compact fluorescent or LEDLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. lighting, for example.

When it comes to choosing a water heater, though, clarity evaporates. Simple, affordable water heaters aren’t very efficient, and efficient equipment is complicated and costly. So how do you go about choosing a water heater?

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