The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Air Sealing an Attic

Posted on September 20, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you want to improve the energy performance of an older house, one of the first steps is to plug your attic air leaks. Although many GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com articles address aspects of attic air sealing, no single article provides an overview of the topic. This article is an attempt to provide that missing overview.

I’ll try to explain how you can seal air leaks in a conventional vented, unconditioned attic. If your house has cathedral ceilings — that is, insulated sloped roof assemblies — the air sealing tips in this article don’t apply to your house.

Energy-Saving Features of the Serenbe Community

Posted on September 19, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In this blog last week I described some of the unique features of Serenbe, a New Urbanist community outside Atlanta, where I had the good fortune to be invited by the Bosch Experience Center as a speaker. I spent the better part of a day exploring the community.

This week I’ll describe some of the energy features at the 1,000-acre development.

Spray Foam Insulation Does Not Work with All HVAC Systems

Posted on September 18, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Earlier this year I got a question about a home that had spray foam insulation in the attic. There's nothing unusual about that. A lot of builders and homeowners are going with spray foam insulation because of the airtightness benefits.

But then the questioner mentioned that the spray foam contractor had intentionally left big holes to the outside by not sealing the gable vents.

Spray Foam in Cold Climates

Posted on September 17, 2013 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

Spray foam is a great tool for insulating and weatherizing. It can be applied to horizontal and vertical surfaces. Once it is cured, it can be the air barrier and vapor and thermal control layers (at least closed-cell foam can), and it provides some of the highest R-values per inch available. It slices! It dices! It makes great sushi!

Why Weatherization Isn’t Enough

Posted on September 16, 2013 by Rachel White in Guest Blogs

Ask almost any building performance expert what you should do first to cut your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home, and the answer will inevitably be to weatherize. And that’s as it should be. Most of our homes are rife with air leaks. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in the average American home, 30 cents of every dollar spent on heating and cooling is lost to air leaks and insufficient insulation.

All About Wood Stoves

Posted on September 13, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you’ve been heating your house with wood for years, you probably don’t need to read this article. By now, you know all about the disadvantages and inconveniences that accompany wood heat, and yet you still heat with wood — either because you genuinely love wood heat, or because you love the low cost of the fuel. If you haven’t burned down your house by now, you may even have figured out how to install and operate your stove safely.

This article is addressed to a different audience: those who are thinking about buying their first wood stove.

Serenbe: a Green Town in the Making

Posted on September 12, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I’m just back from Atlanta, where I spoke on Saturday at the new Bosch Experience Center located in the unique Serenbe Community thirty miles southwest of Atlanta.

I gotta say, I was impressed!

Thou Shalt Commission Thy Ducts!

Posted on September 11, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

The typical new home gets a heating and air conditioning system that's about two times too large. I've  discussed oversized air conditioners many times before.

A Shortcut To Sustainable Living: Downsize!

Posted on September 10, 2013 by Alan Abrams and Joseph Gilday in Guest Blogs

The purpose of sustainable design and green building is to achieve sustainable living. To do this, we attempt to make best possible use of the assets at hand. That could mean designing and building from scratch. It could also mean taking an existing dwelling and nudging it in the direction of sustainability.

It’s an imperfect process and takes time. It’s only natural that we look for shortcuts to living green. Here’s one: downsize and move into a condo.

How to Install a Foundation Drain

Posted on September 9, 2013 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

On its face, the location of a foundation perimeter drain seems like the simplest of details. The perforated drain line is run around the foundation next to the bottom of the footing.

At least that's what many construction drawings show. But in some parts of the country, the drain is placed on top of the footing rather than next to it, and this discrepancy is at the root of Steven Knapp's dilemma.

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