The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

All About Radon

Posted on October 11, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Several colorless, odorless gases can injure your health. For example, carbon monoxide can kill you in minutes. RadonColorless, odorless, short-lived radioactive gas that can seep into homes and result in lung cancer risk. Radon and its decay products emit cancer-causing alpha, beta, and gamma particles. takes longer — usually decades — to kill you, and (fortunately) death is less certain.

The United Nations Addresses Resilient Design

Posted on October 10, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Wrapping up an intense month of travel, I’m just back from New York City, where I spoke last Friday at the UN World Habitat Day conference, “Resilient Design for Sustainable Urbanism.” The event was cosponsored by the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanism, AIA New York, and the NJIT Center for Resilient Design.

When You’re Financing a Green Home, Payback Is Irrelevant

Posted on October 9, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

If you're buying a green home or investing in energy efficiency improvements for your existing home, calculating the simple payback for your investment is at best incomplete and at worst, completely irrelevant. Before I get to the reasons why payback isn't the right way to look at home energy efficiency improvements, let's define simple payback.

Making Green Affordable, Part 1

Posted on October 8, 2013 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

Now that "green" design (usually defined as design that is energy-efficient and environmentally friendly) is arguably in the mainstream, our industry faces a challenge: to bring green design into the realm of affordability. "Affordable," like "green," is a subjective term, and so it makes it difficult to discuss without offending some people (specifically those who are struggling to afford basic shelter for themselves or others; where a donated sink, or 2x4, makes all the difference.) I don't think this article is necessarily for you/them. I should be clear, right up front, that we are mostly talking about very low-energy, high-quality houses. However, all the principles Phil and I discuss, can be applied to any home, of any size and scale.

So, join Phil and me as we knock back a cocktail, roll up our shirt sleeves, and discuss our respective approaches to affordable green design. I should also warn you that Phil and I are a bit chatty in the beginning, and if you are the type that likes to get right to the subject matter, and don't care about Phil's discovery of Campari, then you'll want to skip ahead to minute 06:00.

For the rest, well, here's to you!

Rescuing a Problem Cathedral Ceiling

Posted on October 7, 2013 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

You could call it the $6,500 problem, because that's what it's going to cost Kacey Zach to re-insulate a cathedral ceiling with closed-cell polyurethane foam and hang new drywall.

Writing at Green Building Advisor's Q&A forum, Zach explains the situation: a cathedral ceiling framed with 2x12s and insulated with fiberglass batts to R-38 "with no regard to air sealing."

A Backyard Test of Peel-and-Stick Flashings

Posted on October 4, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

More than 12 years ago, I wrote an article on peel-and-stick window flashing. The article, “Choosing Flexible Flashings,” appeared in the June 2001 issue of The Journal of Light Construction (JLC).

LED Lights Brighten Our Nearly Completed Home

Posted on October 3, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Our electrician was in last week installing lighting in our new home in Dummerston. Virtually all of our lighting will be 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., the state-of-the-art choice today for energy-efficient lighting.

LED stands for “light-emitting diode.” It’s a solid-state lighting technology that converts electric current directly into visible light. LED lighting has far higher efficacy (the number of lumens of light output per watt of electricity consumed) than incandescent lighting — which converts roughly 90% of the electric current into heat; only 10% into light.

Most LED lights also have modestly higher efficacy than compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The recessed LED lights we installed have an efficacy of 66 lumens per watt, which is not too different from that of CFLs, but LEDs are much more directional than CFLs, so they work better in recessed cans in delivering usable light to where you need it.

Five Ways to Deal with Crawl Space Air

Posted on October 2, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

If you have a home with a crawl space — or are building or buying one — you have several options on what to do with that particular foundation type. Most crawl spaces are vented to the outdoors, but over the past decade, encapsulating the crawl space (as shown in the photo here) has gained favor among builders of green and energy efficient homes. It's often seen as the best way to eliminate the moisture problems that often result from vented crawl spaces. But what do you do about the air down there?

Historic Solar House Has Been Bulldozed

Posted on October 1, 2013 by Anthony Denzer in Guest Blogs

Here is some sad but not surprising news: the George Löf house — one of the seminal buildings in the history of the solar house and certainly a modernist landmark worthy of protection and preservation — was recently destroyed. I visited the Denver site earlier this year and found a large excavation and a foundation (presumably) for a McMansion.

Architect Turned Master Marketer Writes a Book

Posted on September 30, 2013 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

Architect, urbanist, and new media guru Steve Mouzon's latest book, New Media for Designers and Builders, is a how-to manual for business owners who want to use social media and other marketing methods to promote themselves for fun and profit. It is truly a 21st-century book, since it is available in PDF and iPad formats, and since much of the content is published on separate websites accessed through embedded links.

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