The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Housewrap in a Can: Liquid-Applied WRBs

Posted on May 28, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

When it’s time to cover wall 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. with a water-resistive barrierSometimes also called the weather-resistive barrier, this layer of any wall assembly is the material interior to the wall cladding that forms a secondary drainage plane for liquid water that makes it past the cladding. This layer can be building paper, housewrap, or even a fluid-applied material. (WRB), most residential builders choose plastic housewrap, asphalt felt, building paperTypically referring to Grade D building paper, this product is an asphalt-impregnated kraft paper that looks a lot like a lightweight asphalt felt. The Grade D designation has come to mean that the building paper passes ASTM D779 (minimum 10-minute rating with the “boat test”) and different products are called out as “30-minute” or even “60-minute” based on D779 results. At times confused with roofing felt, roofing felts and building paper differ in two ways: felts are made of recycled-content paper, building papers of virgin paper; felts are made of a heavier stock paper; building papers a lighter stock. See also roofing felt., or rigid foam sheathing. Some commercial builders, however, choose a fifth option: a liquid-applied building wrap.

Liquid-applied WRBs come in a bucket and are applied to wall sheathing or concrete blocks with a roller or a spray rig. These products cure to form a tenacious, flexible coating that seals small cracks and penetrations.

Water, Water Everywhere at Green Building Conference

Posted on May 26, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

After a daylong home tour, the NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. National Green Building Conference got rolling in earnest on Monday, May 17, in Raleigh, N.C. While slightly smaller than a few years ago, the conference had a respectable turnout and some good educational sessions for attendees. Kept to a concise day and a half with five sessions running concurrently, it was easy to miss some good talks—unless, of course, not only could you split your personality, but also your body.

Social Media Networking Craze

Posted on May 25, 2010 by Dina Lima in Green Building Blog

Facebook, friends, fans, pages, Twitter, tweets, followers, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, blogging, CMS―do you feel overwhelmed by the social media networking craze? You are not alone! But think about this: Where would Microsoft be had it failed to update its Windows operating system? Even today, Microsoft refuses to stay behind, because it too uses Facebook and Twitter.

The Two Rabbits

Posted on May 25, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

So, did you hear the story about two rabbits from Arlo Guthrie? I didn’t think so. Well, in 1976 at the Temple Music Festival in Ambler, Pa., Arlo Guthrie was interviewed by Peter Stone Brown. Peter was asking Arlo how it felt to be touring with Pete Seeger, singing and protesting the issues of their day. He was kind of asking Arlo if anybody was listening to him and Pete. And Arlo responded by saying his thoughts and ideas weren’t new; that they had, in fact, been thought by people before him. He explained, “This is a history of good guys at work,” and he was glad to be part of it.

Emergency Energy Conservation Saves a School

Posted on May 25, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

As an avid environmentalist with a casual awareness of the importance of energy conservation when I entered college in the 1970s, a chance situation clarified for me just how much energy could be saved through strong, concerted effort. Sometime in 1974 or ’75 (those years tend to run together for me for some reason), the transformer serving Ithaca College blew up.

Magical Mystery Green Home Tour

Posted on May 22, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

NAHB’s National Green Building Conference in Raleigh, N.C., kicked off with a full-day tour of green homes ranging from very affordable small houses to luxury spec and custom projects. Having avoided home tours for many years, I finally took the plunge and signed up for this one. Lots of interesting things to see, particularly in the more modest projects, but boy, was it an ordeal.

Niagara’s Innovative 0.8 gpf “Vacuum-Assist” Stealth Toilet

Posted on May 21, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Water Efficiency

Niagara Conservation has introduced a new toilet that's unlike anything on the market. It uses passive "vacuum-assist" technology to deliver a very quiet, effective flush that consumes just 0.8 gallons (3.0 liters)--making it, I believe, the most water-conserving of any flush toilet on the market.

Who knew there would be so many ways to flush a toilet!

Testing a Thirty-Year-Old Photovoltaic Module

Posted on May 21, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

In 1980, after living in the woods of Vermont without electricity for five years, I bought my first photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) module. Responding to a small ad in Mother Earth News, I sent a check to Joel Davidson, a back-to-the-land urban refugee who was facilitating a bulk purchase of PV panels. From his off-grid acreage in Pettigrew, Arkansas, Davidson was selling 33-watt Arco Solar modules for $275 each.

Many people ask, “How long do solar panels last?” To mark the 30th anniversary of my first PV module, I decided to climb up on my roof and bring it down for testing.

7 Steps to an Energy-Efficient House: 7. Renewable Energy

Posted on May 19, 2010 by Betsy Pettit in Guest Blogs

Editor's introduction: With energy prices rising again, many homeowners are planning energy-efficiency improvements to their homes. But most people are unsure of where to begin, and even seasoned builders don’t always know which priorities should rise to the top of the list. Betsy Pettit, an architect at Building Science Corporation, recommends starting where you can get the most bang for the buck.

Bloom Box Rekindles Excitement About Fuel Cells

Posted on May 18, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

The high-profile roll-out of the highly secretive Bloom Box fuel cellElectrochemical device in which electricity is generated by chemically reacting hydrogen with oxygen; electricity, water vapor, and heat are the only products. Unlike a battery, which stores a limited fuel supply used to create electricity, a fuel cell draws on an ongoing supply of fuel to produce electricity continuously., on CBS’s 60 Minutes in February, ushered in a new round of excitement about fuel cells.

Fuel cells have been around for over 50 years. They are, in essence, chemical batteries that churn out electricity as long as a fuel, such as hydrogen or natural gas, is fed in at the other end. They have been a mainstay of power generation in NASA’s space program for decades and have slowly been making inroads for more earthly applications.

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