The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

A Backyard Test of Peel-and-Stick Flashings

Posted on October 4, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

More than 12 years ago, I wrote an article on peel-and-stick window flashing. The article, “Choosing Flexible Flashings,” appeared in the June 2001 issue of The Journal of Light Construction (JLC).

LED Lights Brighten Our Nearly Completed Home

Posted on October 3, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Our electrician was in last week installing lighting in our new home in Dummerston. Virtually all of our lighting will be LEDLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed., the state-of-the-art choice today for energy-efficient lighting.

LED stands for “light-emitting diode.” It’s a solid-state lighting technology that converts electric current directly into visible light. LED lighting has far higher efficacy (the number of lumens of light output per watt of electricity consumed) than incandescent lighting — which converts roughly 90% of the electric current into heat; only 10% into light.

Most LED lights also have modestly higher efficacy than compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The recessed LED lights we installed have an efficacy of 66 lumens per watt, which is not too different from that of CFLs, but LEDs are much more directional than CFLs, so they work better in recessed cans in delivering usable light to where you need it.

Five Ways to Deal with Crawl Space Air

Posted on October 2, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

If you have a home with a crawl space — or are building or buying one — you have several options on what to do with that particular foundation type. Most crawl spaces are vented to the outdoors, but over the past decade, encapsulating the crawl space (as shown in the photo here) has gained favor among builders of green and energy efficient homes. It's often seen as the best way to eliminate the moisture problems that often result from vented crawl spaces. But what do you do about the air down there?

Historic Solar House Has Been Bulldozed

Posted on October 1, 2013 by Anthony Denzer in Guest Blogs

Here is some sad but not surprising news: the George Löf house — one of the seminal buildings in the history of the solar house and certainly a modernist landmark worthy of protection and preservation — was recently destroyed. I visited the Denver site earlier this year and found a large excavation and a foundation (presumably) for a McMansion.

Architect Turned Master Marketer Writes a Book

Posted on September 30, 2013 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

Architect, urbanist, and new media guru Steve Mouzon's latest book, New Media for Designers and Builders, is a how-to manual for business owners who want to use social media and other marketing methods to promote themselves for fun and profit. It is truly a 21st-century book, since it is available in PDF and iPad formats, and since much of the content is published on separate websites accessed through embedded links.

Fixing a Wet Basement

Posted on September 27, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A hundred years ago, homes had cellars, not basements. The typical cellar has stone-and-mortar walls and a dirt floor. Such a cellar is cool and humid, so it's the perfect place to store carrots and potatoes. If a cellar floor got wet during the spring thaw, no one cared. After all, it’s not as if anyone was playing ping pong down there.

Passivhaus is Blossoming in Brooklyn

Posted on September 26, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I was in New York City over the weekend where I spoke at the Annual Meeting of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. That meeting on Saturday night was okay (you can access my presentation from this link if you just have to know what I talked about), but what was really great was an opportunity to explore a new infill housing project in Brooklyn that’s being built to the PassivhausA 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. standard and may well achieve net-zero-energy performance.

Is the Passivhaus Program Truly Innovative?

Posted on September 25, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Last month, Joe Lstiburek gave the fifth annual Twitterview from his crawl space. (Peter Troast of Energy Circle has published the transcript of this year’s event.) One of the pearls of wisdom dispensed by Joe was that, “Passivhaus is the only place where real innovation is happening.”

Ten Misconceptions About the Passive House Standard

Posted on September 24, 2013 by Monte Paulsen in Guest Blogs

I'm a small building energy modeler, and the tools of my trade are airtightness, insulation, window placement, and heat-recovery ventilation(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air. . These are also the tools of the international 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. standard (known in Europe as the Passivhaus standard). And yet, almost every week, some veteran home builder patiently schools me as to why these building performance strategies — or Passive House requirements — are a waste of time or money.

I have compiled the most frequently cited arguments I hear; let's call them “Ten reasons not to build a Passive House.”

Upgrading a Shop’s Heating System

Posted on September 23, 2013 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Matt Cooper's 1,800-square-foot woodworking shop sits on a 6-inch concrete slab heated with a radiant-floor system. Unfortunately, the on-demand water heater that Cooper uses to heats the water for the in-slab tubing isn't performing well.

"I've been using a Takagi Jr. to heat it for the past couple of years but it's been no end of headaches," Cooper writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor.

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