The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

How to Live Comfortably Off the Grid

Posted on January 3, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

UPDATED: 1/3/11 with expert opinions from Mark Sevier and Peter Yost

Chris Koehn will be building a 1,600-sq.-ft. home in British Columbia for owners who want to heat primarily with wood. They envision a wood-burning cookstove and a fireplace, and they'd also like to incorporate some solar capability.

Because of its island location, the house will be off the electricity grid.

GBA To Go!

Posted on January 2, 2011 by Daniel Morrison in Green Building Blog

Try out this app for mobile phones. I built it at using the free site. It will be available for the next couple of weeks at which point, it will either go away or I'll pony up the cash to buy a subscription.

Bookmark this link on your iPhone or Android phone and you're mobile:

Creating a Conditioned Attic

Posted on December 31, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED April 22, 2014

Millions of Americans live in states where residential HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. contractors routinely install ductwork in unconditioned attics. In many cases, these attics also contain a variety of appliances, including air handlers, furnaces, or water heaters.

Our History of Petroleum Use

Posted on December 30, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

While most of us think of the petroleum age starting in the late 1850s, when North America's first oil well began gushing oil, human use of petroleum actually goes back much further.

Asphalt, a heavy constituent of petroleum (see last week's blog), was used four thousand years ago in constructing the walls of Babylon. During the Roman era, oil was collected and used in the province of Dacia (now Romania), where it was referred to as "picula."

How to Stay Cozy in a 1930s Bungalow

Posted on December 27, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Rich Cowan lives in an 1,800-square foot bungalow in northern Massachusetts that has been renovated twice in the last decade but still has some problems: no insulation in the basement, and a furnace and air handler in the vented attic.

"The heat produced by our gas furnace is quickly moving through the ceilings to a vented attic, and then is lost forever," Cowan writes in a Q&A post. Money to correct the problems is not unlimited, but Cowan has a plan.

Backerboards – Winners against Water

Posted on December 24, 2010 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

I sat down one day and figured this out: two people each taking an 8-minute shower every day is equivalent to the tub surround seeing 100 inches of driving rain a year. That means we should be building our wet walls for tub and bath surrounds with the best moisture management we can muster. And just about everyone agrees that means using a non-paper-faced tile backer board. The question remains: which non-paper faced tile backer board?

Enterprise Green Communities Criteria Checklist

The Pros and Cons of Advanced Framing

Posted on December 24, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Advanced framingHouse-framing techniques in which lumber use is optimized, saving material and improving the energy performance of the building envelope., also called optimum value engineering (OVE), is a framing system that aims to pare the amount of lumber used to frame buildings to the bare minimum. Advanced framing was developed in the 1960s by the Department of Housing and Urban Development as a way for builders to reduce costs.

In recent years, the decades-old framing system has been adopted by many green builders. These new advanced framing devotees are focused less on the cost-cutting aspects of the framing system than on its other virtues, including energy and materials savings.

Understanding Petroleum

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

This week I'll take a detour from practical energy-conserving solutions to take a look at oil (petroleum) — the fluid that has powered our automobile-based society. Be prepared for some new terminology and a little bit of chemistry!

U.S. Military Leads the Way on Sustainability

Posted on December 21, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

In a recent New York Times article, Thomas Friedman brought up the U.S. military’s current push to become energy independent as a national security measure. According to Friedman, the “Navy and Marines are building a strategy for 'out-greening' Al Quaeda…and the world’s petro-dictators.” This strategy apparently evolved out of a study showing that one person dies for every 24 of the hundreds of fuel convoys run through Afghanistan.

The Business Case for ‘Smaller Is Better’

Posted on December 20, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

Being surrounding in the pages of by a lot of folks whose credentials make mine pale in comparison, I have to be sure never to wander too far from home. And the perspective I am privileged to represent here is one of “Business Advisor,” which means you won’t see me straying too far afield into Building Science, Sustainable Design, or God knows else I would like to pontificate on but that may be outside my purview.

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