The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

(At Least) Five Things Are Wrong With This Picture

Posted on June 11, 2013 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

Last week we published this photo as part of our “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” series. The photo shows a problematic roof at a multifamily building in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The puzzler was created by Garrett Mosiman and Pat Huelman at the University of Minnesota. Mosiman and Huelman concluded that the Minneapolis building had the following five problems.

Multifamily Construction is Good News for Green Building

Posted on June 10, 2013 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

Recently, while doing research for a series of articles I am writing for Multifamily Executive Magazine, I ran across some interesting information on the multifamily construction industry and the increasing demand for green certified buildings. Affordable housing, much of which is multifamily, has been leading the way in green building for many years, much of this due to incentives tied to low income housing tax credits (LIHTC) that promote certified projects.

Zen and the Art of Grading

Posted on June 7, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Green builders have an uneasy relationship with chainsaws and bulldozers. To some environmentalists, these noisy inventions conjure up images of ecosystem destruction and irresponsible land development.

However, just like a hammer or a level, a bulldozer is just a tool. It can be used for good or ill.

Bulldozers are extremely handy when you need to change the grade of a site. Grading matters, and novice builders who ignore grading will eventually be forced to pay attention to the topic.

A Slow Living Summit in Brattleboro, Vermont

Posted on June 5, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

For the past three years, the Slow Living Summit has been an important ancillary event to the Strolling of the Heifers parade in Brattleboro, Vermont, which is now one of the state’s leading tourist attractions. With a nod to Spain’s famous Running of the Bulls, the Strolling of the Heifers is a relaxed walk along Main Street that focuses attention on farmers and local food.

A 3-Ton Air Conditioner Will Rarely Give You 3 Tons of Cooling

Posted on June 5, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Today I'm going to give you three reasons why your 3 ton air conditioner isn't really a 3 ton air conditioner. Of course, there are more than three reasons, starting with the fact that it's not 3 tons in weight. That unit refers to cooling capacity and harkens back to the days of ice.

What’s Wrong With These Roof Details?

Posted on June 4, 2013 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

Readers are invited to identify as many errors they can spot in the attached photo of a multifamily building in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This is the latest photo in our ongoing series, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” (To see three previous photos in the series, click the links in the box below.)

The photo comes from Garrett Mosiman and Pat Huelman at the University of Minnesota. (Their work is funded by the Building America program.)

How to Insulate a Flat Roof

Posted on June 3, 2013 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Most of the houses that Atlanta architect Scott West designs are contemporary, and they typically come with flat roofs. Construction often consists of 12-in. deep I-joists or open-web 2x4 trusses capped with oriented strand board (OSB) sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. . Roofs are unvented, and the use of recessed can lights is probably unavoidable.

Is Your Pool an Energy Hog?

Posted on May 31, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If your home has a swimming pool, your pool pump may use more electricity than any other appliance in your home — as much as three times the electricity used by your refrigerator. Many residential pools in the U.S. have 1.5-horsepower or 2-horsepower pumps that draw 2,000 watts or more. If you’re not paying attention, you may be running your pool pump for 24 hours a day — even though your pool might be perfectly clean with only 6 hours of pump operation per day.

Energy Use by Buildings

Posted on May 30, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I’ve long appreciated the adage that you can’t manage what you don’t measure, so I’ve spent a good bit of time looking at numbers — especially relating to energy. (Apologies in advance to readers who don’t think quantitatively.)

One of those numbers that I’ve always been intrigued with is how much of our nation’s total energy consumption relates to buildings. That sounds simple enough.

Why Do We Measure Air Conditioner Capacity in Tons?

Posted on May 29, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

A few years ago, a 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. rater student in a class I taught told a funny story. He was an HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. contractor and said he was installing a new air conditioner for an elderly woman. As he was explaining things to her, he mentioned that they would be installing a 4-ton unit. "Oh, my," she said. "How are you going to get something so big into my back yard?"

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