The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

How to Install a Foundation Drain

Posted on September 9, 2013 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

On its face, the location of a foundation perimeter drain seems like the simplest of details. The perforated drain line is run around the foundation next to the bottom of the footing.

At least that's what many construction drawings show. But in some parts of the country, the drain is placed on top of the footing rather than next to it, and this discrepancy is at the root of Steven Knapp's dilemma.

Weatherization Funding Has Been Slashed

Posted on September 6, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), sometimes referred to as the “Obama stimulus funding.” Among the bill’s many provisions was a $5 billion allocation over three years to the Weatherization Assistance Program. Since the U.S. Department of Energy (DOEUnited States Department of Energy.) has historically funded the weatherization program at between $210 million and $230 million per year, the $1.6-billion-per-year stimulus funding was a sevenfold increase over the usual funding level.

On the Closure of Vermont Yankee

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

The big energy news in my part of the world this past week has been the pending closure of Vermont’s only nuclear power plant, Vermont Yankee, in Vernon, about six miles south of Brattleboro. The closure is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2014, at the end of the current fuel cycle.

Patent Troll Wins First Case Over Use of Infrared Cameras

Posted on September 4, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

A year or two ago, I remember getting trapped in my car one evening listening to Ira Glass's show This American Life. It was an episode titled When Patents Attack, and I was riveted. The show described how a seemingly small change in the U.S. patent office's protocol led to the growth of an industry that siphons money from tech companies through legal, but sketchy, license fees and lawsuits.

Problems with Crawl Spaces

Posted on September 3, 2013 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

Crawl spaces are like the Loch Ness monster: talked about, rarely seen, and potentially a bit scary.

The crawl space is that empty, barely accessible pit under the house filled with swampy water, cobwebs and spiders the size of dinner plates. (That link was the Google result for “spiders the size of dinner plates.” Enjoy). At least that’s what we imagine.

Finally! Starting Construction At My House

Posted on September 2, 2013 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

After paying for two home designs, with one turned down and one approved by the local historic commission, I ultimately decided not to build a new house, mostly for financial reasons. Instead, I am renovating my existing cottage and adding a small office, a storage area, and a screened porch (an excellent feature in the South).

Return to the Backyard Tape Test

Posted on August 30, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED on September 7, 2017 with a new postscript.

In the fall of 2012, I tested the performance of 11 air-sealing tapes by attaching samples to six different substrates mounted on the exterior wall of my woodshed. A month later, I tried to remove the tape samples to determine which tapes were most tenacious. I reported my findings in the April/May 2013 issue of Fine Homebuilding. (The details of the test set-up can be found in that article, “Backyard Tape Test.”)

A Heat Pump Using Carbon Dioxide as the Refrigerant

Posted on August 29, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In researching and writing about building products for our publication Environmental Building News over the past twenty-plus years I’ve had an opportunity to cover some fascinating breakthrough products and technologies. One such technology I was writing about a few weeks ago is the use of carbon dioxide as a working fluid for heat pumps. 

Fukushima and Vermont Yankee

Posted on August 28, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A year and a half ago, in an article on the continuing nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, I reacted with skepticism to reports that the crisis at the damaged plant was under control. I wrote, “The situation at the Fukushima reactors is still far from stable. … Since the containers at the Fukushima Daiichi are severely damaged by melted fuel and can’t hold water, Tepco needs to pour hundreds of tons of water over the molten fuel every day.”

A Failure That Stalls the Certification of Many Energy Star Homes

Posted on August 28, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Let me tell you a little story about the day that Jeffrey went to test several Habitat for Humanity houses that are going for certification in the Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. new homes program (the one in the photo here was not one of them). This was a couple of weeks ago, but I wrote down the numbers he told me because I think you may be somewhat surprised.

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