The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

The Clothes Washer Revolution

Posted on November 3, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In the 1980s, when my wife and I were expecting our first child, we decided it was time to give up our weekly adventure at the laundromat and buy our first clothes washer: a used Maytag. It was rugged and generally dependable despite its age, but it had a big drawback: it used about 50 gallons of water to wash a load of laundry. Our house was served by a spring that often ran dry in the late summer, so we had to watch our water use very carefully. It wasn’t too long before we decided to replace that Maytag.

Attic Insulation Upgrades

Posted on November 2, 2009 by michael maines in design-matters

Two projects my company is currently working on involve a common problem: not enough insulation in the attic. Both homes are old; one dates from 1860, the other from 1705. In both cases we initially recommended insulating the rafter bays. In both cases, however, we were not able to get over homeowner biases against heating “storage spaces,” and instead opted for insulating the attic floor.

Green From the Start: Home Edition Volume 2

Posted on November 2, 2009 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

For those few of you who have been waiting breathlessly for updates on my new house, I finally have something to report. The preliminary plans were completed this fall and submitted to the local historic commission for approval, and that is where I ran into my first hiccup.

There is an existing cottage on the property that I was planning to demolish after my new house is complete. I was told by the commission staffer that the cottage is considered a “contributing structure” to the district, and I would have a hard time getting approval to remove it.

Halloween Home Horrifica

Posted on November 1, 2009 by Daniel Morrison in Green Building Blog

Deciphering the Tax Credits

Posted on October 30, 2009 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

The energy-efficiency tax credits and renewable-energy tax credits are better than tax deductions. The allowable credits aren’t just deductible expenses; they represent dollars subtracted directly from your tax bill. While the tax credit program includes illogical rules, the available tax credits can be significant.

If you want to claim a tax credit on your 2009 income tax return for energy-efficiency improvements to your home, you should get the improvements installed before the end of the year. There’s really no need to rush, however, since the tax credits will remain available until the end of 2010 — or, in some cases, 2016.

Why Does Green Building Matter? (Part 2) - Building Science Podcast

Posted on October 30, 2009 by John Straube in Building Science

This podcast series is excerpted from a two-day class called "Building Science Fundamentals" taught by Dr. Joe Lstiburek and Dr. John Straube, of Building Science Corporation.

Pro/Con: Open-Cell or Closed-Cell Foam?

Posted on October 29, 2009 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

Everyone agrees that spray polyurethane foam does a great job at reducing air leakage. But which type of insulation makes the most sense: open-cell foam or closed-cell foam?

GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com presents two spray-foam experts — Jim Coler, the owner of Coler Natural Insulation in Ionia, New York, and Neal Ganser, a spray-foam consultant from Bozeman, Montana — who explain the advantages of the two main types of spray foam insulation.

Open-Cell Foam Beats Closed-Cell Foam

Posted on October 28, 2009 by Anonymous in Green Building Blog

By Jim Coler

When shopping for spray foam insulation, many builders and homeowners are uncertain whether to choose an open-cell product or a closed-cell product. In my opinion, the choice is clear: for above-grade residential applications, the best choice is usually open-cell foam. In most cases, open-cell foam will be more economical, more flexible, and more forgiving with moisture than closed-cell foam.

Closed-Cell Foam Beats Open-Cell Foam

Posted on October 28, 2009 by Anonymous in Green Building Blog

By Neal Ganser

Replacing long-obsolete insulation materials with closed-cell or open-cell spray polyurethane foam is a big step in the right direction for energy efficiency. Of the two types of foam, it is closed-cell foam that truly answers all of the building envelope’s requirements for long-term sustainability. Compared to open-cell spray foam, closed-cell foam has a higher R-value and is less vapor-permeable.

Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariffs

Posted on October 27, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Vermont made history last week, becoming the first state to offer “feed-in tariffs” for electricity generated from renewable energy sources.

Feed-in tariffs have been used since the early 1990s in Europe, most notably in Germany, to jump-start the photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (solar electricity) industry. In a nutshell, they are government-mandated, long-term power purchase contracts for electricity generated by renewable energy systems at rates that are significantly higher than the market rate for wholesale power.

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