The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About the HERS Index

Posted on June 25, 2012 by ab3 in Building Science

A lot of home builders and homeowners are getting certified home energy ratings to find out how efficient their homes are. There's also a lot of buzz about HERS ratings, with builders looking at them as a tool for marketing their homes.

Understanding Energy Units

Posted on June 22, 2012 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you’ve ever been confused by the difference between 500 BtuBritish thermal unit, the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water (about a pint) one degree Fahrenheit in temperature—about the heat content of one wooden kitchen match. One Btu is equivalent to 0.293 watt-hours or 1,055 joules. and 500 Btu/h, you probably can use a handy cheat sheet to explain energy units. As a guide through the thorny thickets of energy, power, and the units used to measure them, I’ve assembled some questions and attempted to answer them.

Lawn Mowing Season

Posted on June 21, 2012 by AlexWilson in Energy Solutions

I’ve never liked mowing the lawn. And it’s not just because of the gasoline used in the process.

The Problem With Modern Architecture

Posted on June 19, 2012 by CarlSeville in Green Building Curmudgeon

Over my now decades-long career in construction and renovation, I have rarely attended any home tours, but I recently went on a tour of modern homes in Atlanta sponsored by a group called, quote appropriately, Modern Atlanta. The tour included ten single-family homes (I saw eight of them) and one commercial building, the new Atlanta offices of Perkins + Will, a LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. Platinum renovation, which I did not visit.

Choosing a Cost-Effective Wall System

Posted on June 18, 2012 by ScottG in Q&A Spotlight

Erik Olofsson is planning a small house in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. Ideally, he’d like to get the walls close to R-40. The question is how.

“Seeing that the received opinion around GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com is the tandem of polyethylene sheeting and exterior rigid foam is not ideal, what do the builders on this site recommend?” he asks in a post at the GBA Q&A forum. “Larsen trusses seem fairly labor-intensive and rigid foam is expensive ... Is a double-stud wallConstruction system in which two layers of studs are used to provide a thicker-than-normal wall system so that a lot of insulation can be installed; the two walls are often separated by several inches to reduce thermal bridging through the studs and to provide additional space for insulation. the answer?”

Joe Lstiburek Discusses Basement Insulation and Vapor Retarders

Posted on June 15, 2012 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Dr. Joseph Lstiburek needs little introduction. The well-known Canadian engineer is a principal of the Building Science Corporation in Massachusetts. He’s also a regular GBA podcaster and Fine Homebuilding author.

On Wednesday, June 6th, I attended an all-day building science class presented by Dr. Joe in Westford, Massachusetts. As usual, his presentation combined salty language, corny jokes, light-hearted insults, and rock-solid building science information.

Test Driving the New Brattleboro Food Co-op Building

Posted on June 14, 2012 by AlexWilson in Energy Solutions

The new Brattleboro Food Co-op building with affordable housing on the top two floors is nearly completed, and we’ll be shopping there in just a week or two. So, how did the building turn out? Were the goals achieved? Are the mechanical systems going to work as intended? How effectively was the building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials. constructed?

The Green Architects Chat With Allison Bailes

Posted on June 13, 2012 by ChrisBriley in Green Architects' Lounge

Allison Bailes was in town to talk to the Building Science Discussion Group, and Phil and I thought we'd grab him to share a conversation with our listeners. (For more on the Building Science Discussion Group, see “Steve's Garage.”)

The Journal of Poor Homebuilding

Posted on June 11, 2012 by user-1048334 in Guest Blogs

I'm calling this collection of photos The Journal of Poor Homebuilding — kind of like Holmes on Homes, except that I won’t act like the previous contractors ought to be hunted down, predator-style.

I had some other ideas for naming it before settling on JoPH (though they are all the same basic joke): Energy Rearguard, Home Energy Amateurs, Journal of Light Destruction, or the Building Magic Corporation. (As a side note, I love the sites on which these parodies are based and highly recommend reading them).

Broken Ventilation Equipment Goes Unnoticed for Years

Posted on June 8, 2012 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Years ago, when I worked as a home inspector, I was hired to perform a capital needs assessment at a Buddhist retreat center in rural Vermont. In an obscure mechanical closet I discovered a heat-recovery ventilator that the facilities manager didn’t even know existed.

The HRV(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. had been installed at least a dozen years before. The filter, which had never been changed since the day it was installed, was totally clogged. The HRV was no longer working — perhaps the motor had burned out years ago. I advised the owners to call an HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. contractor to have the unit serviced.

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