The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Trade Contractor Management — Part 2

Posted on July 12, 2012 by CarlSeville in Business Advisor

Before you commit to the time and energy required to put together a complete management system for your trade contractors, you may want to know what you will ultimately get out of it. A good system will help you get more consistent, high quality work, reduce confusion and problems, help new trade contractors get up to speed quickly, improve your back office operations, and avoid confusion throughout the company. Sound interesting?

Energy Star Homes Must Comply with Version 3 Guidelines Now

Posted on July 11, 2012 by ab3 in Building Science

On the 1st of this month, the Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. new homes program moved fully (well, almost) into the much more rigorous set of guidelines called Version 3. There's been a lot of discussion on the the transition for the past three years, when the Energy Star team at the U.S. EPA first started vetting the update with HERSIndex or scoring system for energy efficiency established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) that compares a given home to a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Reference Home based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. A home matching the reference home has a HERS Index of 100. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is. A typical existing home has a HERS Index of 130; a net zero energy home has a HERS Index of 0. Older versions of the HERS index were based on a scale that was largely just the opposite in structure--a HERS rating of 100 represented a net zero energy home, while the reference home had a score of 80. There are issues that complicate converting old to new or new to old scores, but the basic formula is: New HERS index = (100 - Old HERS score) * 5. raters and home builders. In case you've ignored or haven't heard much about it yet, here's a quick overview of what's new:

Choosing an Air Conditioner

Posted on July 11, 2012 by AlexWilson in Energy Solutions

[Author's note: Some modifications have been made since this blog was originally posted.]

I have never owned an air conditioner, and I don’t have any immediate plans to change that. But if I did, what would I look for?

For only occasional use and when you don’t want to spend more than $1,000, the options are limited to room air conditioners, which are most commonly installed in windows. These cool the rooms in which they are installed, though in a small house or one that’s very-well-insulated and tight, a single window unit may be able to cool much of the house.

Air-Source or Ground-Source Heat Pump?

Posted on July 9, 2012 by ScottG in Q&A Spotlight

Dana is building a tight, well-insulated house in climate zone 6 and now faces a choice between a ground-source heat pumpHome heating and cooling system that relies on the mass of the earth as the heat source and heat sink. Temperatures underground are relatively constant. Using a ground-source heat pump, heat from fluid circulated through an underground loop is transferred to and/or from the home through a heat exchanger. The energy performance of ground-source heat pumps is usually better than that of air-source heat pumps; ground-source heat pumps also perform better over a wider range of above-ground temperatures. and an air-source heat pumpHeat pump that relies on outside air as the heat source and heat sink; not as effective in cold climates as ground-source heat pumps. for heating and cooling.

“After the 30% tax incentive, there is not much increase in cost for the geo system,” Dana writes in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor. “I am being told different stories in regard to system performance and longevity of equipment (depending on what side of the fence you’re on).”

New Green Building Products — July 2012

Posted on July 6, 2012 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Once again, the “in” box on my desk is beginning to fill up with a stack of brochures describing interesting new products.

I've selected four products to review in this latest roundup: an insert panel to improve the thermal performance of insulated concrete forms (ICFs); a new wall system for manufactured stone veneer; and two new water-resistive barriers (WRBs).

Chilling Out With Air Conditioners

Posted on July 5, 2012 by AlexWilson in Energy Solutions

[This reflects a few corrections from the original posting]

My wife and I did our outside work early, while the weather was still bearable. Since mid-day we’ve been holed up in the house. It’s not exactly cool indoors, but we’ve had the house closed up and it’s about 15 degrees cooler than outdoors. If it gets much warmer, though, I admit that I’ll at least be thinking about getting an air conditioner—as I do every year for a few days during the hottest weather.

Essential Energy-Audit Equipment

Posted on July 3, 2012 by user-1048334 in Guest Blogs

I thought I’d put together a list of all of the tools and equipment I use during an energy audit. Not all of these tools are used during every audit, and some aren’t essential to investigating the house. I’ve separated the lists into two categories: essential items and useful items.

How to Insulate a Basement Wall

Posted on June 29, 2012 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Here at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com, we regularly receive questions from readers about the best way to insulate a basement wall. Since these questions pop up frequently, it’s time to pull together as much information as possible on this topic.

In this article, I’ll try to explain everything you always wanted to know about insulating basement walls.

Keeping Cool

Posted on June 28, 2012 by AlexWilson in Energy Solutions

Welcome to summer. Burlington, Vermont hit a record 97°F the other day, and my place in West Dummerston reached 93°, with high humidity. What’s the best way to stay comfortable in weather like this — assuming that you’re not using mechanical air conditioning?

First, it’s important to understand that the goal isn’t really about temperature; it’s about comfort. Some very simple strategies can help you remain comfortable even with high air temperatures.

Trade Contractor Management: Creating Programs That Work

Posted on June 26, 2012 by CarlSeville in Business Advisor

Way back when I was a contractor, I always found it useful to develop well-organized systems to use in running our business. Whenever I was asked the same question twice, it was time to create standards and procedures for employees and trade contractors to refer to.

I called these the gifts that kept on giving: once you had them you could stop trying to remember what you said the last time and just refer people to the appropriate documents. Eventually they learn, and the questions become less frequent.

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