The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Oooh, Shiny Stuff! — Radiant Barrier Fundamentals

Posted on July 30, 2012 by ab3 in Building Science

Today just feels like a good day to talk about shiny stuff. Radiant barriers are a green building product with a lot of sex appeal, if that's possible for construction products. People get really crazy about attics, though. (Don't get me started about powered attic ventilators!) Maybe brains have a tendency to overheat when discussing them. The general category of radiant barriers is an area of great hype and misunderstanding, so I'll tell you what I know, explain the basic physics, and give you a couple of links to some great resources for more information.

Do Foil-Faced Building Products Block Cell Phone Reception?

Posted on July 27, 2012 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

It’s increasingly common for builders to install rigid foam on exterior walls and roofs. And among green builders, polyisocyanurate foam — a type of foam that often comes with foil facing — is generally perceived as the most environmentally friendly foam available.

Insulated Storm Windows?

Posted on July 26, 2012 by AlexWilson in Energy Solutions

I’ve done a lot of digging into window options in the past few months — not only for a special report on windows that BuildingGreen published, but also for the renovation of the early-19th-Century farmhouse that my wife and I recently purchased.

New Advisors on the GBA Team

Posted on July 25, 2012 by Daniel Morrison in Green Building Blog

Chris Briley and Phil Kaplan are architects in southern Maine. They are smart, talented, funny, and they are go-getters. Chris and Phil began podcasting a couple of years ago on iTunes. One of our contributing editors, Scott Gibson, pointed them out to us, and we asked them to podcast on GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com.

Trade Contractor Management — Part 3

Posted on July 25, 2012 by CarlSeville in Business Advisor

If you’re following along with this series of articles, you will recall that I ended the last post with a list of the various pieces and parts of a successful management program. This post covers the General Agreement, your annual signed contract with your trade contractors that covers all the work they do for you.

The first question you may be asking is, Why do you need one? Lots of contractors just sign their trade contractors’ proposals and put them to work. Some people even work on a handshake without any contract at all.

Is a Ground-Source Heat Pump a Renewable Energy System?

Posted on July 24, 2012 by ab3 in Building Science

Here's another rant that goes in my “drives me crazy” bin of articles. I'm in good company, too. Another article that ran at Green Building Advisor recently discussed making the choice between an air-source heat pump and a ground-source (a.k.a. “geothermal”) heat pump.

Kicking the Tires on a Passivhaus Project

Posted on July 23, 2012 by user-961160 in Guest Blogs

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a PassivhausA 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. in Maine. Their goals are modest: “Passivhaus, LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. Platinum, net zeroProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. Calculating net-zero energy can be difficult, particularly in grid-tied renewable energy systems, because of transmission losses in power lines and other considerations., universal access, and sustainable.” This is the first article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

Alaskan Glaciers Are Rapidly Melting

Posted on July 20, 2012 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

I recently returned from a two-week family vacation trip to Alaska. This was my first trip to Alaska; of course, two weeks is a very brief time to visit such a vast state. We were able to spend some time in Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Anchorage, and Seward. We also spent several days fishing along the Salcha River and at Lower Paradise Lake on the Kenai Peninsula.

The Continuing Revolution in LED Lighting

Posted on July 19, 2012 by AlexWilson in Energy Solutions

A few days ago I got yet another press release about a new efficiency record with 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. These are almost commonplace as we ride the revolution that is redefining electric lighting.

To back up, let me provide a short synopsis of lighting technologies and history.

Incandescent lamps provided the first electric lighting, with Thomas Edison inventing the first commercially viable light bulb around 1880 (building on the inventions of many others), and the technology has changed relatively little since General Electric introduced tungsten-filament light bulbs in 1911. Electric current flows through a very thin, coiled filament made of tungsten wire and glows white-hot, producing light. With incandescent lighting, roughly 90% of the electricity is converted into heat, only 10% into light.

Calculating the Embodied Energy Payback for Passivhaus Buildings

Posted on July 19, 2012 by user-945928 in Guest Blogs

A common PassivhausA 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. topic that rears its head every now and again is the embodied energy of construction. While this can be an important issue, we generally feel it’s a moot point for Passivhaus projects – especially the ones we design (owing to better optimized assemblies and less insulation!).

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