The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Cost-Effective Passive Solar Design

Posted on September 30, 2011 by Brian Knight in Guest Blogs

Passive solar design is one of the most attractive strategies available for energy-efficient construction and green building. The sun provides free heat, daylightingUse of sunlight for daytime lighting needs. Daylighting strategies include solar orientation of windows as well as the use of skylights, clerestory windows, solar tubes, reflective surfaces, and interior glazing to allow light to move through a structure., and a better connection to our outdoor environment. It does this for the life of the structure.

If you follow these priciples, your house will offer passive survivability, meaning it will remain livable through winter power outages. The passive elements of your home design will have no moving parts, and the only maintenance need is occasional window cleaning.

2011 Solar Decathlon is in the Home Stretch

Posted on September 30, 2011 by Patrick McCombe in 2011 Solar Decathlon

After being in the construction business in one form or another for more than 20 years, I often feel jaded by our lack of progress in building long-lasting, energy-efficient homes despite decades of trying. Well, my trip last week to the 2011 Solar Decathlon has given me renewed hope. The young people who designed and built the 19 homes in the event had more smarts and enthusiasm than I could ever have anticipated. And they made really nice houses, too. Even the designs and features I was skeptical of proved thought-provoking and interesting.

Two Solar Decathlon Homes Get High Marks for Affordability

Posted on September 29, 2011 by Richard Defendorf in 2011 Solar Decathlon

The newest of the 2011 Solar Decathlon’s 10 contest categories – affordability – has become an impressive showcase for design ingenuity, and powerful evidence that building energy-efficient homes doesn’t have to bust the bank.

The rules are simple: homes that cost $250,000 or less to build earn the contest category maximum of 100 points, while homes costing more than $250,000 lose points on a sliding scale that tapers to zero at the contest limit of $600,000.

The New ‘Smart’ Grid

Posted on September 28, 2011 by Tristan Roberts in Energy Solutions

I had the honor of being within a few feet of a barn owl this weekend at the wildlife festival at the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum. Kept alive after being injured years ago and now a frequent visitor to classrooms and museums, this bird of prey was perched on the arm of a handler, who wore thick falconry gloves.

What Were They Thinking?

Posted on September 27, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I’ve been doing HERS ratings and green building certifications for several years now, and I have run across some pretty scary things during inspections that sometimes make me wonder what everyone was thinking.

Now, I was a contractor for a long time, and I understand the challenges of getting things done on time, correctly, and within the budget, and by no means am I trying to minimize those challenges. What does amaze me is how little attention some contractors and trade contractors pay to the details as their projects are underway.

How to Build Efficiently in Massachusetts

Posted on September 26, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Noah Kaput and his wife seem to be off to a good start in planning their 2,100-sq. ft. house in Massachusetts.

Air Sealing With Sprayable Caulk

Posted on September 23, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Homes insulated with fiberglass batts are leakier than homes insulated with cellulose or spray polyurethane foam. Until recently, fiberglass batt manufacturers shrugged off the damning air-leakage data, insisting that their batts could deliver the R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. promised on the packaging — and then changed the subject.

Solar Decathlon 2011: Let the Competition Begin

Posted on September 23, 2011 by Richard Defendorf in 2011 Solar Decathlon

For the next several days, “home” for the 19 teams competing in the 2011 Solar Decathlon will be a stretch of the National Mall West in Washington, D.C., that separates the Potomac River from the Tidal Basin.

Twenty-Three Reasons Why I Love

Posted on September 22, 2011 by Michael Chandler, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

When I want to get an inside look at the amazing innovation happening around the world in service of a more sustainable future, I look to Flavio Souza in Tokyo. Souza curates a glorious collection of innovation news and images at his website,

Resources for Green Affordable Housing

Posted on September 21, 2011 by Amy Hook in Green Communities

Recently, I have been able to work with the director of Enterprise Green Communities, Trisha Miller, on some local policy conversations. I think I have been roped in because of my extensive work with the public realm through NSP.

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