The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

The Story of BuildingGreen

Posted on May 3, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Last week, I reflected on Earth Day and how concern for the environment inspired me in school and then led to my focus on renewable energy starting in the mid-1970s. This brought me to Brattleboro in 1980 to work for the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, which I did from 1980 through 1985.

To continue:

How to Insulate and Air Seal an Attic Hatch

Posted on May 2, 2012 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

There’s a subset of issues in the realm of home efficiency that falls into the category “out of sight/out of mind.” The boiler in the basement, how much insulation is in the attic … as long as these issues stay out of your view, no problem. So what’s up with attic hatches, then?

Even though attic hatches can be huge air leaks and sources of radiant heat loss, they are rarely fixed. An attic hatch is usually located in a hallway or closet where the homeowners see it daily. Yet...

Report from the NAHB Green Conference

Posted on May 1, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

The NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. Green conference is being held this week (April 29 to May 1, 2012) in Nashville, Tennessee. Several GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com employees and bloggers — including Dan Morrison, Michael Chandler, Peter Yost, Ted Clifton, and me — are attending.

Nashville has a number of famous buildings, including a full-scale replica of the Parthenon. Nashville's Parthenon isn't made of quarried marble, however; it's made of concrete. So how's the concrete quality? Do the columns resemble marble?

Green Building Haikus

Posted on April 30, 2012 by Andrea Lemon in Guest Blogs

My part-time employer, BuildingGreen, recently celebrated the overlap of National Poetry Month and National Architecture Week with a sustainable design haiku contest. I am not normally someone who writes poetry, but I quickly discovered that writing haiku was a great way to blow off years of accumulated steam from trying to build a Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates..

How to Perform a Heat-Loss Calculation — Part 2

Posted on April 27, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

To continue last week’s discussion of heat-loss calculation methods, let’s consider a simple rectangular building, 20 feet by 30 feet, with 8-foot ceilings. Let’s assume it has an 8-foot-high basement with uninsulated concrete walls; the below-grade portion of the basement is 7 feet high, with 1 foot above grade.

To keep things simple, we’ll assume that the house has a flat roof, and that each side of the house has two windows (each 3 ft. by 4 ft.) and one door (3 ft. by 7 ft.). The house doesn’t have a chimney.

An Opportunity for Users to Rate Window Manufacturers

Posted on April 26, 2012 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

By Martin Holladay

Everybody has an opinion on windows, it seems. When specifying windows, builders usually look for good customer service. Most builders want a local rep who answers the phone, provides quick turnarounds on bids, delivers windows on time, and promptly shows up on site when something goes wrong.

Homeowners want windows that look good, operate smoothly, and don't fall apart.

Energy nerds want windows with excellent performance specifications.

Earth Day and My Career Path to Sustainable Energy

Posted on April 26, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

With Earth Day this past Sunday, I'm inspired to reflect on what motivated me — some 45 years ago(!) — to focus on a career of environmental protection and improvement, a career that has 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. me to a significant focus on more sustainable energy solutions. Back in the late 1960s at age 12 or 13, I became immersed in "conservation" and decided that this would be my life career. This was before the modern "environmental" movement really began, and "conservation" was the term used to describe environmental protection.

A Green Remodeling Training Project

Posted on April 25, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Looking through the April issue of Remodeling magazine (after reading my own column in the issue), I ran across an article about John Tabor, a remodeler who used an addition to his own home to learn about green building and train his crews on technologies that they had not yet used.

How to Perform a Heat-Loss Calculation — Part 1

Posted on April 20, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

I’m going to devote the next several blogs to a discussion of heat-loss and heat-gain calculations. These calculations are the first step in the design of a home’s heating and cooling system.

In order to address this big topic in little bites, I’ll start by discussing heat-loss calculations. I’ll get around to heat-gain calculations and cooling equipment in a future blog.

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