The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Green Building Priority #4 – Reduce the Need for Driving

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

For very good reasons, we focus a great deal of effort in green building on reducing the energy consumption of our structures—after all, these directly account for more than 35% of our energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. But if you factor in the energy used in getting to and from our buildings—usually in single-occupancy cars and pickup trucks—those percentages grow significantly.

A Conversation With Wolfgang Feist

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Dr. Wolfgang Feist, the physicist and founder of the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, began his U.S. speaking tour with a presentation and panel discussion at the Boston Architectural College on October 23, 2010. Among the other speakers at the event were Katrin Klingenberg, the founder of the Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. Institute U.S. in Urbana, Illinois.

SWEET! S.E. Weatherization Energy Efficiency Training Center Opens

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Southface Energy Institute recently held a grand-opening ceremony for its new Southeast Weatherization Energy Efficiency Training Center, nicknamed the SWEET Center.

Ground-Source Heat Pumps, Part 1: The Basics

Posted on October 26, 2010 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

If you've done any amount of research on ground source heat pumps, chances are that you've heard from people who say that you'd be insane to consider them as a viable system for your house—AND you've heard from others who say you'd be insane NOT to use them.

Where insanity and green architecture meet, you shall find Phil and me mixing a Dark and Stormy and turning on the mike to act as your good-natured guides. For this episode, we will attempt to demystify this polarizing heating and cooling system.

In Part One of the podcast, we cover the basics and discuss:

My 9th Commandment: Weak Plans & Specs = Weak Project

Posted on October 26, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

Ever have prospective clients ask you for a ballpark price on their home that “they won’t hold you to” during your first sales call? Even after they have shown you a plan view of the project or home without elevations? Maybe they have elevations but no engineering? Perhaps they have made no selections but say they just want “normal, nice fixtures like everyone else that are not too expensive”? You know — just a rough idea of how much per square foot. They want regular tile in the bathrooms but do not know the difference between ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone.

Waste Management for New Construction and Remodeling

Posted on October 26, 2010 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

A big part of building green is managing the job site’s “tailpipe.” What you throw out on a job can say an awful lot about overall project management, from your scopes of work to budgeting to job site practices.

Know what you throw

Beefing Up Insulation (and Making it Easier to Hang Cabinets) in a Kitchen Remodel

Posted on October 25, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Eric Nash is renovating a kitchen with "old school" 2x4 walls. He's gutting the room, but not touching the outside of the house. He'd like to present the homeowners with some options for increasing the R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. of the exterior walls while making a better air seal.

Here's his plan: fill the stud bays with cellulose, add 1 1/2 in. of rigid foam insulation on the inside, then a layer of 1/2-in. plywood on which to hang cabinets, and, finally, 1/2-in. drywall.

Navigating Energy Star’s Thermal Bypass Checklist

Posted on October 22, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you’ve ever built an 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. home, then you’re familiar with the Thermal Bypass Checklist. Originally adopted on July 1, 2006, the Checklist identifies areas in homes under construction that must be inspected by a certified rater for a house to qualify for an Energy Star label.

Green Building Priority #5 – Build Smaller

Posted on October 20, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

While the trend has begun to turn around, we've been building larger and larger houses for decades. In 1950, the average house in the U.S. was about 1,100 square feet, while there were about 3.4 people per household, according to data I compiled for a 1999 article in Environmental Building News. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2009 the average new house in the U.S. was 2,438 square feet (down slightly from 2,518 square feet in 2008), while the average household size was 2.6 people.

What Do You Want To Know About Passivhaus?

Posted on October 20, 2010 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

A few Green Building Advisor staff members and contributors will attend the "Passivhaus, LEED, and the City of Boston" symposium on Saturday, where Passivhaus Institute founder Dr. Wolfgang Feist will be speaking about "The concept, experience, and dissemination of Passivhaus."

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