The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Vapor Barriers Are a Good Thing, Right?

Posted on August 17, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

At the dawn of our current interest in building science, sheets of polyethylene were routinely stapled to interior framing before drywall was installed. The idea was to block the flow of water vapor into exterior walls. (Some builders tried to make their polyethylene seams airtight, so that the poly would do double duty — acting as an air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both. as well as a vapor barrier.)

Installing a vapor barrier (or more properly a vapor retarder) was considered cutting-edge.

Biomass Boilers: A Greener Alternative to Heat the Home?

Posted on August 16, 2010 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

For this Green Architects' Lounge podcast, we are joined once again by our good friend Pat Coon, from Revision Heat, to discuss the topic of biomassOrganic waste that can be converted to usable forms of energy such as heat or electricity, or crops grown specifically for that purpose. boilers—both gasification log boilers and wood pellet boilers. As we did with the Deep Energy Retrofit episode, we've divided the original recording into three blog-size pieces that are better suited for this format.

Comparing Green Building Rating Systems: LEED or NGBS?

Posted on August 16, 2010 by Danny Kelly in Guest Blogs

Two of the green rating programs we’ve mentioned in this blog series are the LEED for HomesLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. program and the National Green Building Standard (NGBSNational Green Building Standard Based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines and passed through ANSI. This standard can be applied to both new homes, remodeling projects, and additions. ) developed by NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification.. The intent of these two certification programs is similar.

Saving Energy With Manual J and Manual D

Posted on August 13, 2010 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you’ve been paying attention to energy-efficiency experts and green-building Web sites, you probably know that it’s important to properly size your HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. equipment. Most sources repeat the same advice: oversized furnaces and air conditioners cost too much, waste energy, and sometimes provide lower levels of comfort.

When is a Window Upgrade Worth the Extra Cost?

Posted on August 12, 2010 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

There's no doubt that windows are getting better — much better. The double-glazed, low-eLow-emissivity coating. Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that permits most of the sun’s short-wave (light) radiation to enter, while blocking up to 90% of the long-wave (heat) radiation. Low-e coatings boost a window’s R-value and reduce its U-factor. units that looked so ground-breaking a few years ago seem merely ordinary now that Canadian, European and some U.S. manufacturers are producing high quality triple-glazed units.

Triple-glazed windows offer substantial benefits, including improved indoor comfort and lower energy bills.

But they aren't cheap. Homeowners who are already facing painfully high building costs have to weigh the costs against the benefits. Are triple-glazed windows really worth the added cost?

Are Energy-Efficient Appliances Worth It?

Posted on August 12, 2010 by Peter Yost in Green Communities

When homes turn over, is it green to automatically turn over all of the major appliances as well? The answer is likely to be yes. Unlike many other goods, major appliances in the US over the last 20 years have gone way UP in energy efficiency while going DOWN in price. Research by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories shows that between 1980 and 2001, the energy efficiency of refrigerators and freezers improved by about 60% while at the same time real consumer prices dropped by 40%!

Building to LEED and NGBS Green Certification in One House

Posted on August 10, 2010 by Danny Kelly in Guest Blogs

We had already walked and jogged on our journey to green, but we began to worry that we would miss out on our chance to run. We had a pretty good reputation as one of the few builders in town familiar with green building, but the real estate market was headed down, so we weren’t building any more spec homes. We introduced all of our new customers to a range of green building programs, but none of them were very interested.

Back to the classroom

Driving to Maximize Your Fuel Economy

Posted on August 10, 2010 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In this column I usually focus on how to save energy in our homes and businesses, but for many of us, getting around is our largest energy consumer—particularly in the summer months when we’re not heating our houses. Some of us are lucky enough to have hybrid cars, and this gives us a head start in saving transportation energy. I just calculated that the 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid we own, which averages about 40 miles per gallon (mpg) year-round, has saved us about 2,800 gallons of gas over the 146,000 miles we’ve driven it (compared with a car getting the U.S.

My 7th Commandment: You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

Posted on August 9, 2010 by Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP in Business Advisor

If you think I look silly in the adjacent photo, I am here to warn you that thermographic imagery will make us all look silly if we do not take stock of the power it holds in the hands of homeowners. In the next two to three years, it will change the way we all look—and the way our houses are built—more than ANY other technology to hit our industry since power tools.

Deep Energy Retrofit: Apply the Energy Efficiency Pyramid

Posted on August 6, 2010 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

This is the last installment in the Green Architects' Lounge trilogy on deep energy retrofits.

In this episode, Phil and I discuss the importance of sizing your new HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. system to the heat load of your newly renovated house. (This is where that energy auditEnergy audit that also includes inspections and tests to assess moisture flow, combustion safety, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and durability. information, which we mentioned in previous episodes, is going to come in handy.)

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