The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Spending a Day With Energy Policy Geeks

Posted on December 20, 2011 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

I recently attended a small, one-day meeting in Atlanta of individuals and organizations involved in energy efficiency throughout the southeast U.S. Hosted by SEEA, the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, the group responsible for distributing much of the ARRA money for efficiency throughout the region.

How to Provide Makeup Air for a Wood Stove

Posted on December 19, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Wood stoves used to be pretty uncomplicated devices. Even though they weren’t airtight and they weren’t especially efficient, these cast-iron stoves warmed plenty of New England farmhouses in the dead of winter.

Our forebears never considered the source of makeup air to replace all the heated combustion gases that were going up the flue. They didn’t need to, because back then, houses were leaky. As the stove burned its load of oak or maple, makeup air had no trouble finding its way into the house.

The Third Annual Christmas Parody

Posted on December 16, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Act 1, scene 1. An empty lot near Scotland Drive.

Thunder and lightning. Enter three sisters, all RESNET-certified.

First rater:
When shall we three meet again,
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Second rater:
When the drywall work is done,
When the zoning battle’s won.

Using Hot Water to Heat Air with a Hydronic Furnace

Posted on December 15, 2011 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but yes, that photo shows the gas furnace and water heater in my condo. (I used to live in a very green SIP home that I built, but that's another story.) It's an 80 AFUEAnnual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Widely-used measure of the fuel efficiency of a heating system that accounts for start-up, cool-down, and other operating losses that occur during real-life operation. AFUE is always lower than combustion efficiency. Furnaces sold in the United States must have a minimum AFUE of 78%. High ratings indicate more efficient equipment. (80% efficient) furnace and natural draft water heater.

Making the Case for Resilient Design

Posted on December 14, 2011 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

During my six-week bike ride last spring (during my sabbatical), I covered nearly 2,000 miles, most of it over land that hadn't seen a drop of rain since the previous fall; some of those areas — mostly in Texas — still haven't gotten significant precipitation. Farmers in Texas have had to plow their cotton under or slaughter their cattle. If the drought continues through the winter, power plants may have to start shutting down for want of cooling water.

To Capture Green Value, We Need a Long Perspective

Posted on December 13, 2011 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

If we let simple or even net-value payback analysis alone drive the economics of high-performance buildings, we might as well throw in the towel. It is truly crazy to apply just this approach to long-lived durable goods, such as homes.

How to Install Tile Over Concrete

Posted on December 12, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Tile can contribute thermal massHeavy, high-heat-capacity material that can absorb and store a significant amount of heat; used in passive solar heating to keep the house warm at night. to a passive solar house, and to Christa Campbell it would make a more appealing finish floor than concrete.

Although tile can be placed directly over a concrete slab, products such as Schluter’s Ditra are designed to separate, or “uncouple,” the tile from any potential movement in the substrate and protect the tile and grout from cracking.

The question for Campbell is whether using Ditra offsets some of the thermal mass gains in a passive-solar design.

A Plague of Bad Energy-Saving Tips

Posted on December 10, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Although I usually only publish one blog a week, I can’t resist posting a rare Saturday blog to rail against bad advice to homeowners from the Federal government and a national green building organization.

Martin’s Ten Rules of Roof Design

Posted on December 9, 2011 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Lots of things can go wrong with roofs: bad flashing can cause leaks, a poorly designed valley can turn into a slow-moving glacier, and misplaced gutters can do more harm than good. Experienced roofers see a lot of stupid roofs.

Blog Review: Equinox House

Posted on December 8, 2011 by Scott Gibson in Green Building Blog

You might call Ty Newell the reluctant engineer. At the University of Michigan in the early 1970s, he would rather have studied natural resources or liberal arts, but those programs were full. So he went into engineering, figuring he’d switch to one of his first choices in a semester or so.

Except that it never happened. His grade point average wasn’t high enough to get him into natural resources, and the prospect of being drafted for duty in Vietnam kept him from dropping out of school. So engineering it was going to be.

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