The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Gas Lines Point to a Need for Resilience

Posted on November 8, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

By now we’ve all seen the photos of houses buried in sand along the Jersey Shore, burned-out homes in Queens, and submerged subway stations in Manhattan. Those spectacular images were in the first wave of news from Superstorm Sandy last week.

Living With Point-Source Heat

Posted on November 7, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

When we yanked the oil boiler, we replaced it with a wall-mounted minisplit heat pumpHeating and cooling system in which specialized refrigerant fluid in a sealed system is alternately evaporated and condensed, changing its state from liquid to vapor by altering its pressure; this phase change allows heat to be transferred into or out of the house. See air-source heat pump and ground-source heat pump. in the main level open area that includes kitchen, dining, living and our little office area. We closed off the first-floor bedroom and bathroom so those rooms are only heated by conductionMovement of heat through a material as kinetic energy is transferred from molecule to molecule; the handle of an iron skillet on the stove gets hot due to heat conduction. R-value is a measure of resistance to conductive heat flow. and air leakage through the walls, and so they get cold — in the high 40°Fs at the lowest last winter.

A Visit to the Local Sawmill

Posted on November 6, 2012 by Roger Normand in Guest Blogs

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the 14th article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

We all know that ground beef and steak come from butchering a cow, but not many people have been to a slaughterhouse. (I suspect many would become vegetarians if they did).

Location Efficiency Trumps Home Energy Efficiency

Posted on November 5, 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

My last article here at Green Building Advisor was about my perception that the USGBC is out of touch. Apparently, quite a few others feel similarly, including many who work in the program.

The Difference Between Air Conditioners and Dehumidifiers

Posted on November 2, 2012 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

There’s a great Patton Oswalt bit where he contemplates meeting George Lucas in 1996 (gotta love the oblique intros). After slobbering over the original Star Wars trilogy and just about suffering an aneurysm over a possible new trilogy, his enthusiasm tapers off dramatically. He finds out what the new movies will be about, namely all the background filler behind his favorite characters and moments — which he hasn’t the palest interest in. To paraphrase, we don't care where the stuff we love comes from; we just love them.

Masonry Heaters Burn Hot and Clean

Posted on November 1, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Over the past two weeks I’ve written about wood stoves and pellet heating. This week I’ll focus on another way to burn wood cleanly and efficiently: using a masonry heater.

Installing a Ductless Minisplit System

Posted on October 31, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

The Island CohousingDevelopment pattern in which multiple (typically 8 to 30) privately owned houses or housing units are clustered together with some commonly owned spaces, such as a common workshop, greenhouse, etc. Automobiles are typically kept to the perimeter of the community, creating a protected area within where children can play. Usually, residents are closely involved in all aspects of the development, from site selection to financing and design. houses were designed to have heat and domestic hot water (DHW) supplied by an oil-fired boiler. (Time for a pedantic distinction: a furnace heats air and blows it around a house, and a boiler heats water which is pumped around the house).

They chose a pretty good boiler: a German Buderus G115. The two-bedroom houses got two heating zones' worth of fin-tube baseboard heat, one zone per floor level. The three- and four-bedroom houses have a third zone, for the first floor ell.

Cutting Down Trees and Milling Lumber

Posted on October 30, 2012 by Roger Normand in Guest Blogs

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the 13th article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

Why Is the U.S. Green Building Council So Out of Touch?

Posted on October 29, 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Yesterday I read a short interview with Rick Fedrizzi,* the CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and it got me to thinking about that organization. They're probably the largest, most well known green building organization in the world.

Fans in the Attic: Do They Help or Do They Hurt?

Posted on October 26, 2012 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding attic fans. Here at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com, we regularly receive e-mails from homeowners with questions about attic fans: What’s the purpose of the fan in my attic? How often should I run it? Do I need a bigger fan?

Before addressing these recurring questions, it’s important to define our terms. First, we need to distinguish between three different types of ventilation fans.

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