The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Nailing Window Flanges Through Foam

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

Over 30 years ago, when builders first began installing rigid foam wall sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. , they had to figure out their own methods of fastening flanged windows. In 1982, when I sheathed my house with 1-inch-thick EPSExpanded polystyrene. Type of rigid foam insulation that, unlike extruded polystyrene (XPS), does not contain ozone-depleting HCFCs. EPS frequently has a high recycled content. Its vapor permeability is higher and its R-value lower than XPS insulation. EPS insulation is classified by type: Type I is lowest in density and strength and Type X is highest., I installed “picture frames” of 1-inch lumber around each window rough opening. As it turned out, Joe Lstiburek was also building a foam-sheathed house in 1982, but he used a different approach.

An Underground Roof?

Posted on May 17, 2011 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

It happens: snow loads trash them, historic commissions don’t allow them, or architects and clients simply don’t like the way they mess up clean roof lines. What do you do when you can’t use gutters to manage all that water coming off of roof eaves or valleys?

Underground water barrier

Solar Decathlon 2011: Team New Jersey’s Seaside Hideaway

Posted on May 17, 2011 by Richard Defendorf in 2011 Solar Decathlon

The target market for Team New Jersey’s entry in the 2011 Solar Decathlon is a couple (perhaps retired) who wants a small, durable, energy-efficient house suitable for the Jersey shore. And in practical terms, trying to appeal to home buyers longing for respite somewhere along New Jersey’s long, lively, and mostly pleasant Atlantic coastline probably isn’t a bad idea, provided you’re willing to put up with allusions to MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”

EPA: More Data Needed to Ensure Spray Foam Safety

Posted on May 16, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

A friend of mine used to be a long-haul truck driver. At one point he even became a trainer working with new drivers.

Over dinner recently, I asked what was one key lesson that he would want to impart to any new driver. While he was thinking about it, his wife lit up and offered this advice (which I'm sure is not from the company manual): make sure your seatbelt is removed before you begin a hot swap.

How to Get the Eichler Look Without the Energy Pricetag

Posted on May 16, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

In Dallas, Texas, Marc Kleinmann is working on plans for a house which the owner wants to look like the the iconic designs by California developer Joseph Eichler: lots of glass, a low-sloped roof, and roof beams that penetrate the exterior walls to support a broad roof overhang.

That style was all well and good back in the 1950s and ‘60s, but with our keener interest in energy efficiency, Kleinmann wonders in this Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor whether it really makes much sense.

Building an Unvented Crawl Space

Posted on May 13, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Residential foundations vary widely from one corner of the U.S. to another. Builders in some regions love basements, while builders in other regions swear by slabs on grade. Although most builders have a theory to explain these regional preferences, the main reason for these variations is habit, not logic. In areas of the country where basements are rare, there usually aren’t any technical barriers to building basements; and up north, where basements rule, it’s perfectly possible to build on a slab.

Blog Review: Thriving on Low Carbon

Posted on May 12, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Green Building Blog

Marc Rosenbaum is a well-known energy consultant who for 25 years lived in a house he called Nerdwood in Meriden, NH. It was heated mostly by wood and the sun. Rosenbaum’s company, Energysmiths, took on a variety of consulting jobs, including some for South Mountain Company on Martha’s Vineyard, which developed a cohousingDevelopment pattern in which multiple (typically 8 to 30) privately owned houses or housing units are clustered together with some commonly owned spaces, such as a common workshop, greenhouse, etc. Automobiles are typically kept to the perimeter of the community, creating a protected area within where children can play. Usually, residents are closely involved in all aspects of the development, from site selection to financing and design. community there called Island Cohousing.

Solar Decathlon 2011: Team China’s Y Container

Posted on May 10, 2011 by Richard Defendorf in 2011 Solar Decathlon

Team China’s Solar Decathlon 2011 entry, Y Container, pushes hard on the notion that shipping containers can be as comfortable to live in as they are easy to transport from mainland China to Washington, D.C.

Do Grid-Tied Photovoltaic Systems Really Have an Advantage?

Posted on May 9, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Most houses with solar electric panels remain grid-tied, meaning the house is still connected to the utility’s grid even as it has the means to produce its own power. Off-grid houses, which once accounted for the lion’s share of installations, are now in the minority.

Biomass Electricity Production: How Green Is It?

Posted on May 9, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

“On a scale from 1 to 10, how nice are you?”

My nine-year-old neighbor put that question to me recently. He had been asked the question as part of an anti-bullying curriculum at his school, and he was trying it out on other people. I wasn't sure how to answer it, and neither was he — “niceness” just doesn't fit on a 10-point scale, in my mind. It did get us to talk a bit about what is nice and what isn't, though, and he noted that there was less “meanness” at his school following use of the curriculum.

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