The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

The Energy-Efficiency Pyramid

Posted on March 5, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED on September 24, 2013

We’re all familiar with the food pyramid — the triangle with grains and cereals at the bottom and fats and sugars at the top. Inspired by the food pyramid, a Midwestern electric utility, Minnesota Power, has created a useful graphic called the energy conservation pyramid. (According to a Minnesota Power spokesperson, the originator of the conservation pyramid was Bob McLean, the chief operating officer at Hunt Utilities Group.)

Green building assessments versus energy audits

Posted on March 4, 2010 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

Energy audits can be a single slice evaluation of home performance, just looking at energy, albeit in a comprehensive analysis of energy performance. Whole-house assessments are green because they take a systems integration approach to evaluating home performance, looking at the individual and combined effects of energy, water, indoor air quality, and durability performance.

Does Green Building Have to Cost More?

Posted on March 2, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Having written about green building for more than twenty years now, I’ve encountered lots of misperceptions. One of those is that green building always has to cost a lot more than conventional building. There are plenty of examples where it does cost more (sometimes significantly more), but it doesn’t have to, and green choices can even reduce costs in some cases. Let me explain.

Air Conditioner Basics

Posted on February 26, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

What does a Vermonter know about air conditioning? I live so close to the Canadian border that half of the radio stations are in French. If my house needs cooling, I just let the fire in the wood stove die down.

When I first began reporting on air conditioning topics over a decade ago, I felt out of my element. Impelled by the certainty that there’s no such thing as a dumb question, I’ve managed over the years to badger a few air-conditioner experts, all of whom contributed to my education. So now I finally know the difference between an evaporator coil and a condenser coil.

RESNET Ramblings

Posted on February 25, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Upon returning home from five long days at the RESNET Building Performance Conference in Raleigh, N.C., I reviewed my notes to see what I had picked up while there. Now for those of you who don’t know this crowd, this is one roomful of serious geeks. Compared to the building industry and the average consumer, I am pretty geeky when it comes to building science, but most of this crowd (as well as many of my friends here at GBA) truly humble me with the extent of their knowledge.

Ground-Source Heat Pumps (2010)

Posted on February 23, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

For the past month, I’ve examined various home energy improvements for which one can earn a 30% federal tax credit. The last of these opportunities I’ll cover is ground-source heat pumps. A ground-source heat pump (GSHP) is also referred to as a “geothermal” heat pump, though I prefer the former terminology, to avoid confusion with true geothermal energyHot water or steam extracted from reservoirs beneath the Earth's surface; can be used for heat pumps, water heating, or electricity generation. The term may also mean the use of near-constant underground temperatures by ground-source heat pumps to provide heating and cooling. systems that rely on elevated temperatures deep underground from the Earth’s mantle.

Architects Talking About Air Barriers

Posted on February 22, 2010 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

With cocktails in their hands, architects Chris Briley and Phil Kaplan discuss green building and design issues in a casual, pithy format

Join the guys for a drink as Chris and Phil look at air barriers — one of “The Big Three” topics (along with insulation and windows) of green construction.

Sit back, relax, and be “edutained” — while you work, drive, exercise or do whatever you do while you podcatch.

Green Home Programs

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

Among other endeavors, I have been certifying LEED homes as a provider representative for about two years now. In order to continue doing this work after next year, USGBC and GBCI have decided that I must become certified as a green rater. After looking at my various options for obtaining this designation, I elected to take a two-day training class in advance of the required test. Not uncharacteristically, I bristled at the thought that I would have to spend my time and money learning something I was already doing.

What’s the Most Cost-Effective Way to Bring Fresh Air into a Tight House?

Posted on February 20, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Q&A Spotlight

Our Question of the Week focuses on a query from “DC,” a Texas reader who wants to know which residential ventilation system will provide the “most bang for the buck.”

DC knows that a tight home requires a mechanical ventilation system to provide fresh air. But how does one choose among the bewildering array of options? And are there any performance advantages to expensive ventilation systems?

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