The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Emergency Energy Conservation Saves a School

Posted on May 25, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

As an avid environmentalist with a casual awareness of the importance of energy conservation when I entered college in the 1970s, a chance situation clarified for me just how much energy could be saved through strong, concerted effort. Sometime in 1974 or ’75 (those years tend to run together for me for some reason), the transformer serving Ithaca College blew up.

Magical Mystery Green Home Tour

Posted on May 22, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

NAHB’s National Green Building Conference in Raleigh, N.C., kicked off with a full-day tour of green homes ranging from very affordable small houses to luxury spec and custom projects. Having avoided home tours for many years, I finally took the plunge and signed up for this one. Lots of interesting things to see, particularly in the more modest projects, but boy, was it an ordeal.

Niagara’s Innovative 0.8 gpf “Vacuum-Assist” Stealth Toilet

Posted on May 21, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Water Efficiency

Niagara Conservation has introduced a new toilet that's unlike anything on the market. It uses passive "vacuum-assist" technology to deliver a very quiet, effective flush that consumes just 0.8 gallons (3.0 liters)--making it, I believe, the most water-conserving of any flush toilet on the market.

Who knew there would be so many ways to flush a toilet!

Testing a Thirty-Year-Old Photovoltaic Module

Posted on May 21, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

In 1980, after living in the woods of Vermont without electricity for five years, I bought my first 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. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) module. Responding to a small ad in Mother Earth News, I sent a check to Joel Davidson, a back-to-the-land urban refugee who was facilitating a bulk purchase of PV panels. From his off-grid acreage in Pettigrew, Arkansas, Davidson was selling 33-watt Arco Solar modules for $275 each.

Many people ask, “How long do solar panels last?” To mark the 30th anniversary of my first PV module, I decided to climb up on my roof and bring it down for testing.

7 Steps to an Energy-Efficient House: 7. Renewable Energy

Posted on May 19, 2010 by Betsy Pettit in Guest Blogs

Editor's introduction: With energy prices rising again, many homeowners are planning energy-efficiency improvements to their homes. But most people are unsure of where to begin, and even seasoned builders don’t always know which priorities should rise to the top of the list. Betsy Pettit, an architect at Building Science Corporation, recommends starting where you can get the most bang for the buck.

Bloom Box Rekindles Excitement About Fuel Cells

Posted on May 18, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

The high-profile roll-out of the highly secretive Bloom Box fuel cellElectrochemical device in which electricity is generated by chemically reacting hydrogen with oxygen; electricity, water vapor, and heat are the only products. Unlike a battery, which stores a limited fuel supply used to create electricity, a fuel cell draws on an ongoing supply of fuel to produce electricity continuously., on CBS’s 60 Minutes in February, ushered in a new round of excitement about fuel cells.

Fuel cells have been around for over 50 years. They are, in essence, chemical batteries that churn out electricity as long as a fuel, such as hydrogen or natural gas, is fed in at the other end. They have been a mainstay of power generation in NASA’s space program for decades and have slowly been making inroads for more earthly applications.

How Can I Make Old Windows More Energy Efficient?

Posted on May 15, 2010 by Daniel Morrison in Q&A Spotlight

Q I want to increase the R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. of the single-pane windows in my 44-year-old house in New Hampshire. I am considering using movable window insulation. Is this insulation good for limiting excess heat gainIncrease in the amount of heat in a space, including heat transferred from outside (in the form of solar radiation) and heat generated within by people, lights, mechanical systems, and other sources. See heat loss. in summer? The windows also fogTo fog a room or building is to use a fog machine during a blower door test, revealing locations of air leaks where the fog escapes. The fogging material is usually a glycol-based solution, completely non-toxic. up easily. Will inner storm windows prevent the fogging and provide more R-value? Can you suggest other alternatives?
-Patrick Clary, Dover, N. H.

A Leaky Old House Becomes a Net-Zero Showcase

Posted on May 14, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Jane Bindley had a dream: to turn her 1978 ranch in central New Hampshire into a net-zero-energy house. How hard could that be?

As it turned out, pretty hard. But with help from a dedicated team of experts and a generous budget, Bindley achieved her dream.

How to Comply with the New EPA Lead Law

Posted on May 12, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Green Building Blog

You are not alone out there in the run up to new lead paint laws that take effect on April 22 of 2010. For us the law won’t alter the way we do business on a whole bunch of jobs since the majority of our projects are on homes born after 1977--homes to which the law does not apply. We work mostly in the suburbs, and considering the enthusiasm with which this city sprawled through the last quarter of the 20th century, there is no shortage of 15-30 year-old homes that need help.

Fiber Optics for Daylighting

Posted on May 11, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Fiber optics, that miracle of modern communications, can also be used to deliver natural light to spaces deep in a building.

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