The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Getting Off Fossil Fuels

Posted on May 10, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

There are a lot of things not to like about fossil fuels. Most obviously, the burning of oil, natural gas, propane, and coal releases huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it traps heat through the greenhouse effect.

First LEED Home in Northwest Georgia

Posted on May 9, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I recently completed the green rater’s pre-drywall inspection on a LEED for homes project about a 1½ hour drive from where I live. It’s a very well done, modest house designed by an architect for his own, rapidly growing family. They are expecting their second child soon and look forward to moving into their new LEED home shortly after the new arrival.

The Trouble with Homes — Asthma and Poor Indoor Air Quality

Posted on May 7, 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I grew up with really bad asthma. Not being able to get enough air into your lungs, in case you haven't experienced it, is pretty scary. I remember lying in bed during one asthma attack, gasping for air, wheezing loudly, and feeling like I was going to die. A trip to the hospital for a shot opened up my lungs again that night, but I continued to suffer asthma attacks even into my mid-twenties.

Calculating Cooling Loads

Posted on May 4, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A few decades ago, residential air conditioning was very rare in colder areas of the U.S., and cooling load calculations were usually unnecessary. These days, however, new U.S. homes routinely include air conditioning equipment, even in Minnesota, so most U.S. builders are faced with the need to calculate cooling loads.

The Story of BuildingGreen

Posted on May 3, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Last week, I reflected on Earth Day and how concern for the environment inspired me in school and then led to my focus on renewable energy starting in the mid-1970s. This brought me to Brattleboro in 1980 to work for the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, which I did from 1980 through 1985.

To continue:

How to Insulate and Air Seal an Attic Hatch

Posted on May 2, 2012 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

There’s a subset of issues in the realm of home efficiency that falls into the category “out of sight/out of mind.” The boiler in the basement, how much insulation is in the attic … as long as these issues stay out of your view, no problem. So what’s up with attic hatches, then?

Even though attic hatches can be huge air leaks and sources of radiant heat loss, they are rarely fixed. An attic hatch is usually located in a hallway or closet where the homeowners see it daily. Yet...

Report from the NAHB Green Conference

Posted on May 1, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

The NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. Green conference is being held this week (April 29 to May 1, 2012) in Nashville, Tennessee. Several GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com employees and bloggers — including Dan Morrison, Michael Chandler, Peter Yost, Ted Clifton, and me — are attending.

Nashville has a number of famous buildings, including a full-scale replica of the Parthenon. Nashville's Parthenon isn't made of quarried marble, however; it's made of concrete. So how's the concrete quality? Do the columns resemble marble?

Green Building Haikus

Posted on April 30, 2012 by Andrea Lemon in Guest Blogs

My part-time employer, BuildingGreen, recently celebrated the overlap of National Poetry Month and National Architecture Week with a sustainable design haiku contest. I am not normally someone who writes poetry, but I quickly discovered that writing haiku was a great way to blow off years of accumulated steam from trying to build a 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..

How to Perform a Heat-Loss Calculation — Part 2

Posted on April 27, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

To continue last week’s discussion of heat-loss calculation methods, let’s consider a simple rectangular building, 20 feet by 30 feet, with 8-foot ceilings. Let’s assume it has an 8-foot-high basement with uninsulated concrete walls; the below-grade portion of the basement is 7 feet high, with 1 foot above grade.

To keep things simple, we’ll assume that the house has a flat roof, and that each side of the house has two windows (each 3 ft. by 4 ft.) and one door (3 ft. by 7 ft.). The house doesn’t have a chimney.

An Opportunity for Users to Rate Window Manufacturers

Posted on April 26, 2012 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

By Martin Holladay

Everybody has an opinion on windows, it seems. When specifying windows, builders usually look for good customer service. Most builders want a local rep who answers the phone, provides quick turnarounds on bids, delivers windows on time, and promptly shows up on site when something goes wrong.

Homeowners want windows that look good, operate smoothly, and don't fall apart.

Energy nerds want windows with excellent performance specifications.

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