The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

PV Systems Have Gotten Dirt Cheap

Posted on October 25, 2011 by Jesse Thompson in Guest Blogs

Something strange has happened to the price of 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.) systems in the last year. PV has gotten dirt cheap.

Honestly, it's gotten cheaper faster than our office has realized, and we try to stay up on these things. Worse, we've realized we haven't been making proper recommendations to our clients because of it.

It's also shifting some of the underpinnings of our typical design analysis in strange ways, and it looks like there are some unexpected consequences we haven't yet figured out.

Book Review: Retooling the U.S. Housing Industry

Posted on October 25, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Sam Rashkin, until very recently the head of Energy Star for Homes, recently published Retooling The US Housing industry, a book of his opinions on, and suggestions of how to improve, the new home industry. The book is a fairly quick read with a great history of housing, and a good analysis of how the U.S. home building industry evolved to its current state.

Can Polyethylene Be Used as an Air Barrier?

Posted on October 24, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Polyethylene sheeting has had its ups and downs as a preferred building material over the last 20 years.

At one time, it was routinely used in wall assemblies as a vapor barrier. As building scientists learned more about air and moisture movement through walls and ceilings, however, they began to advise builders that an interior vapor retarder is better than an interior vapor barrier, and the perceived usefulness of poly plummeted.

Martin’s 10 Rules of Lighting

Posted on October 21, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Most homes use too much energy for lighting. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American household uses 1,667 kWh per year for lighting, which amounts to 15.3% of residential electricity use. Ironically, this energy devoted to lighting is used inefficiently, so the usual result is a dim house with dark, depressing corners.

Membranes réfléchissantes: une solution en quête d'un problème

Posted on October 20, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

ENGLISH VERSION
Une membrane réfléchissante est un panneau brillant ou une membrane souple qui est utilisé dans la construction. Bien que la résistance thermique (valeur R) de ces membranes est à peu près de zéro, elles peuvent être utilisées comme partie d'un assemblage en construction — par exemple, un ensemble constitué d'une pellicule radiante et d’un espace d'air — pour ralentir le flux de chaleur.

A Bucket List for Contractors’ Kids

Posted on October 20, 2011 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Green Building Blog

Here's a list of favorite things that every contractor’s kids should experience before they turn 18! Enjoy the list — and feel free so suggest additions.

1. Visit the dump. Nothing will better impress your kids about the consequences of our actions than seeing and smelling the detritus our society generates and then buries!

2. See spray foam being sprayed. This is about as cool as it gets. Put on the body suit and respirator and get ready to see some smiles. Psshhhhhhht and watch it expand. Then have fun poking it full of holes!

Wood Stoves: Safety First

Posted on October 19, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

Nobody speaks of this contest but everybody knows who’s winning. It’s how we get out the competitive impulse in rural Vermont: we race to have the neatest woodpile. Admit it: even as you’re reading this, saying “that’s not me,” you’re mentally comparing your woodpile with the neighbor’s.

One Fine Day With a Ventilation Expert

Posted on October 18, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I had the pleasure of attending an all-day seminar in Atlanta recently by Gord Cooke, one of the rock stars of the building science community. I have known him for a while and heard him speak a few times in the past, but was unaware of his close connection with the ventilation industry.

Is There Such a Thing as a Perfect Building Envelope?

Posted on October 17, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Is there such a thing as a perfect building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials.? One that could be mass-produced from readily available materials, and be appropriate for 90% of all new homes?

Andrew Homoly thinks he’s found one, as he explains in this Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor.

Keeping Ducts Indoors

Posted on October 14, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you live in New England, you know that furnaces are installed in basements. But any New Englander who moves to Oregon soon learns that furnaces are installed in garages. And anyone who retires to Texas discovers that furnaces are installed in unconditioned attics.

Of course, there are many other examples of similar regional differences in construction practices. But this is one regional difference that matters. New Englanders have it right: furnaces and ductwork belong inside a home’s conditioned spaceInsulated, air-sealed part of a building that is actively heated and/or cooled for occupant comfort. , not in the great outdoors.

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