The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Should I Turn Down Radiant-Floor Heat at Night?

Posted on March 26, 2012 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Does it pay to turn down the heat at night when you have a radiant-floor heating system? David Meiland and a heating contractor are having trouble seeing eye to eye on that question.

Meiland says the house they're discussing is a slab-on-grade with R-10 insulation below and PEXCross-linked polyethylene. Specialized type of polyethylene plastic that is strengthened by chemical bonds formed in addition to the usual bonds in the polymerization process. PEX is used primarily as tubing for hot- and cold-water distribution and radiant-floor heating. tubing cast into the slab. In another part of the house, the floor is framed, with PEX installed below in tandem with aluminum plates that help distribute the heat. The boiler is a 30-kW electric model with an outdoor reset.

Solar Thermal is Dead

Posted on March 23, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

In the northern half of the U.S. — and even much of the South — installing a residential solar hot water system doesn’t make any sense. It’s time to rethink traditional advice about installing a solar hot water system, because it’s now cheaper to heat water with a photovoltaic (PV) array than solar thermal collectors.

In short, unless you’re building a laundromat or college dorm, solar thermal is dead.

The Revolution in Window Performance — Part 1

Posted on March 22, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I've been working for the past couple weeks on a report on windows — the latest in BuildingGreen's series of special reports on green building (the last one covering insulation). This focus has reminded me just how much we expect of our windows and what an amazing job they do.

Evolving Opinions on Green Building

Posted on March 21, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I still remember using spray foam insulation in my early green renovation projects – it was almost magic! It sealed and insulated in one shot. It made it easy to finish attics and avoid most of the problems with fiberglass batts that were the common insulation on our jobs.

Design for Disassembly

Posted on March 19, 2012 by Vera Novak in Guest Blogs

In his seminal book “Cradle to Cradle,” designer William McDonough advocated that objects should be designed with the end in mind. This has been codified by the EU End-of-Life Directive, which has improved upon the traditional recycling of cars as junk, or co-mingled material.

A Superinsulated House in Rural Minnesota

Posted on March 16, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Electric resistance heating systems have a bad reputation. While the required equipment is cheap (and sometimes cheap-looking), homes with electric heat are known for their high fuel bills.

German Innovation in Solar Water Heating

Posted on March 15, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I was in Boston last week for the annual Building Energy conference, sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. Each year this conference provides an opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues, catch up on leading-edge building design, and learn about product innovations in energy conservation and renewable energy.

‘All New Construction and Retrofits Must Be Carbon-Neutral’

Posted on March 14, 2012 by Lenny Antonelli in Green Building Blog

Reprinted with permission from Construct Ireland magazine.

How to Choose Insulation

Posted on March 13, 2012 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

[Editor's note:This is an excerpt of the “Insulation and Air Sealing” chapter of Carl's new textbook, Green Building. Carl's publisher, Cenage Learning, has allowed us to make the whole chapter available as a free download.]

Occupant Behavior Makes a Difference

Posted on March 9, 2012 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Energy experts often repeat the cliché, “There’s no such thing as a zero-energy home — just zero-energy homeowners.” Energy monitoring data from two well-publicized Massachusetts homes — the so-called Montague Urban Homestead house in Turners Falls and the home of Matt and Laura Beaton in Shrewsbury — prove the cliché to be true.

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