The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Driving to Maximize Your Fuel Economy

Posted on August 10, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In this column I usually focus on how to save energy in our homes and businesses, but for many of us, getting around is our largest energy consumer—particularly in the summer months when we’re not heating our houses. Some of us are lucky enough to have hybrid cars, and this gives us a head start in saving transportation energy. I just calculated that the 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid we own, which averages about 40 miles per gallon (mpg) year-round, has saved us about 2,800 gallons of gas over the 146,000 miles we’ve driven it (compared with a car getting the U.S.

My 7th Commandment: You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

Posted on August 9, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

If you think I look silly in the adjacent photo, I am here to warn you that thermographic imagery will make us all look silly if we do not take stock of the power it holds in the hands of homeowners. In the next two to three years, it will change the way we all look—and the way our houses are built—more than ANY other technology to hit our industry since power tools.

Deep Energy Retrofit: Apply the Energy Efficiency Pyramid

Posted on August 6, 2010 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

This is the last installment in the Green Architects' Lounge trilogy on deep energy retrofits.

In this episode, Phil and I discuss the importance of sizing your new HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. system to the heat load of your newly renovated house. (This is where that energy auditEnergy audit that also includes inspections and tests to assess moisture flow, combustion safety, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and durability. information, which we mentioned in previous episodes, is going to come in handy.)

Sealing Ducts: What’s Better, Tape or Mastic?

Posted on August 6, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Most residential duct systems have numerous leaks that waste energy and lead to room-to-room pressure imbalances. Unfortunately, though, few building inspectors outside of California bother to enforce existing code requirements that residential duct seams be sealed with mastic or high-quality duct tape.

Westford Building Science Symposium Raises Some Interesting Questions

Posted on August 5, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Much of the GBA team was in attendance at the 14th-annual Westford Building Science Symposium last week. More commonly known (and maybe more accurately described) as “Summer Camp,” this invitation-only, three-plus days long assembly of several hundred people involved in building science is a geek's delight, featuring long days of lectures followed by dinner, drinks, and music until the wee hours. How we manage to get up and function each morning is one of the biggest mysteries at camp. If any Twitter fans are interested, look for #bscamp in tweets from this week to learn more.

Vapor Profiles Help Predict Whether a Wall Can Dry

Posted on August 5, 2010 by Peter Yost in Building Science

Today’s walls, roofs, and floors are better insulated, tighter, and made with a much greater variety of components than they used to be, making them a lot more susceptible to moisture problems when they get wet. Compared to the old days, today's walls and ceilings are more complicated and can be very slow to dry.

Can Heat Be Stored in a Sand Bed Beneath the House?

Posted on August 4, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

David Meiland was intrigued by something he'd read in a Breaktime post at Fine Homebuilding magazine in which a Minnesota builder discussed plans for a heat-storing layer of sand 4 ft. thick below the house slab.

PEX tubing would dump heat gathered by solar collectors into the insulated layer of sand in summer, and extract it during the winter. Although sand isn't an ideal material for this type of system, it's cheap and easy to work with.

Bensonwood Is Reinventing the House

Posted on August 3, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I had the good fortune last week to spend a few hours touring the Bensonwood offices and factory in Walpole, New Hampshire. I’ve known Tedd Benson for perhaps 20 years, and knew of him a lot longer than that through his writings. He pretty-much created the modern timber-framing profession, starting back in the early 1970s when he set out to reinvent the craft of timber-frame construction that our New England ancestors used centuries ago.

A Custom Builder's First EarthCraft House

Posted on August 3, 2010 by Danny Kelly in Guest Blogs

Having completed an 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. house, we wanted to take the next step in our “walk, jog, run” model. We were ready to jog – we decided to enroll a house in one of the many programs that certifies green homes.

By this time, our knowledge had grown, and we felt like we were up to speed on all the new products and techniques of green building. The NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. had formalized its Green Building Guidelines; we had read them and attended a brief seminar.

Do All Houses Need Mechanical Ventilation?

Posted on August 2, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

A central aim of energy-efficient building is to eliminate air leaks through the roof and exterior walls. A leaky building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials. not only makes it harder to heat and cool a house but also increases the risk of condensation and moisture damage.

Builders are getting the message about air sealing. But the tighter the house, the greater the need for some type of mechanical ventilation — and that raises construction costs. Is it possible to build a house with just enough air leakage to satisfy fresh air requirements without a ventilation system while still reaping some energy rewards?

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