The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

All About Water Heaters

Posted on February 10, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you want to save energy, there are lots of exciting appliances and building materials that you might want to specify for your home: triple-glazed windows, an efficient refrigerator, and compact fluorescent or 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, for example.

When it comes to choosing a water heater, though, clarity evaporates. Simple, affordable water heaters aren’t very efficient, and efficient equipment is complicated and costly. So how do you go about choosing a water heater?

Resilient Communities

Posted on February 9, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In this ninth installment of my ten-part series on resilient design, I'm focusing beyond individual buildings to the community scale. Following a natural disaster or other problem that results in widespread power outages or interruptions in vehicle access or fuel supplies, people need to work together. We saw that throughout Vermont with tropical storm Irene last year, when some communities were cut off for a week or more.

PHIUS PHlogging

Posted on February 8, 2012 by mike eliason in Guest Blogs

“The 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. is not a brand, it is a building concept which is open to all.” – Anton Kraler

I have to say, I completely agree with Kraler. I don’t view Passive House as a brand, but a concept that belongs to the greater built environment (Passivhaus is a greater good!). And as a concept, I find it very sound and worthwhile. So it was interesting to be forwarded the inaugural blog post from the PHIUS blog, Klingenblog (I’m not making that up!).

What’s Wrong With This Insulation Job?

Posted on February 7, 2012 by Rob Hammon in Green Building Blog

In many areas of the country, homes are receiving Energy Star labels they don’t deserve. Major errors like the ones shown in this photo are supposed to be caught by the HERS rater who performs third-party verification services. This home slipped through the cracks.

The photo shows at least four errors serious enough to have prevented the home from receiving an Energy Star label. Can you spot them?

Next week, we will post the answers that a Building America team, BIRA, came up with.

The Pretty Good House

Posted on February 6, 2012 by michael maines in Guest Blogs

Energy Star. LEED. Passivhaus. There are many programs with different metrics for determining how green your home is. But what elements of green building are important to you when designing and building a home?

New Green Building Products — February 2012

Posted on February 3, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

My folder of interesting new building products is getting thick, so it’s time for another new product roundup. I’ll review three brands of photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. roofing designed to integrate with asphalt shingle roofs. I’ll also discuss several new types of insulation: a new type of rigid foam, batts made from plastic fibers, and batts made from hemp.

Resilient Design: Water in a Drought-Prone Era

Posted on February 2, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Periodic drought is something that a significant portion of the U.S. will have to get used to in the coming decades. Climate scientists tell us that while precipitation will increase overall with climate change, certain regions, including the American West, will see increased frequency of drought.

Cape Cod Style Homes Are Difficult to Heat

Posted on February 1, 2012 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

One of the great ironies in construction (I bet you didn’t even know that construction could be ironic) is that Cape Cod style houses perform pretty poorly on Cape Cod. The year-round sea breezes wash right through a Cape building frame, making them chilly and uncomfortable in the winter months.

How did Cape Cod style houses (which perform not-so-great in the winter) become popular in New England? Maybe the name was a marketing scheme? And how can we address the air leakage and heat loss issues to make Capes more comfortable?

What’s Going On With Home Performance?

Posted on January 31, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I’ve been involved, if somewhat peripherally, with the Home Performance industry for quite a while. I was one of the original group working on Home Performance with Energy Star in Atlanta quite a few years ago. As I learned more about this evolving field, I felt that it was both important and necessary, and thought that it had potential to be a profitable business model.

The Green Architects Chat With James Howard Kunstler

Posted on January 30, 2012 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

You know how occasionally the comments section that follows certain blogs drifts off into “Big Picture” territory? When we do a podcast on something simple like air sealing or home energy monitoring, for some reason someone has to bring up population control, lack of focus on urban retrofits, or how Frank Loyd Wright was a racist. (For the record, I'm not trying to bring that one up again—so let's leave it alone, please.)

Anyway, this one's for you, “Big Picture People.”

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