The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Holladay Recognized by Fellow Blogger

Posted on November 15, 2012 by Patrick McCombe in Green Building Blog

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Martin Holladay for more than 10 years, so it came as no surprise to me that his passion for sustainable building and his journalistic chops were recently recognized by the website Retro Renovation. The site’s regular blogger, Pam Kueber, told readers that Martin is “pretty much my favorite blogger in the universe.”

Comparing Fuel Costs

Posted on November 15, 2012 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

If there’s one thing that we can predict with certainty about fuel costs, it’s that they fluctuate a lot. That wasn’t always the case. The price of electricity, natural gas, propane, and heating oil were remarkably stable for decades — up until the 1970s.

Since then, prices of most fuels have gyrated wildly, driven by political unrest in some parts of the world, periods of greater or lower demand driven by periods of strong economic growth or contraction, resource limitations (real or perceived), and the situation in China and other parts of this increasingly connected world.

Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 1

Posted on November 14, 2012 by Roger Normand in Guest Blogs

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the 15th article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

I am seeing “red” on what’s supposed to be a “green” residential property appraisal.

No, I’m not color blind, although my wife Lynn says I am “seriously color challenged” for my occasional fashion faux-pas. Perhaps so.

Shades of Green: the 1970s vs. the Millennial Generation

Posted on November 13, 2012 by Vera Novak in Guest Blogs

Recently a friend asked for help in designing an off-grid house. Interestingly, I pulled out the old books from the '70s to show as examples and inspiration. We tagged a combination of ideas: an earth berm house, a passive solar house, an attached greenhouse buffer space, a solar thermal system, and a stack effectAlso referred to as the chimney effect, this is one of three primary forces that drives air leakage in buildings. When warm air is in a column (such as a building), its buoyancy pulls colder air in low in buildings as the buoyant air exerts pressure to escape out the top. The pressure of stack effect is proportional to the height of the column of air and the temperature difference between the air in the column and ambient air. Stack effect is much stronger in cold climates during the heating season than in hot climates during the cooling season. heating/cooling system incorporating a heat sinkWhere heat is dumped by an air conditioner or by a heat pump used in cooling mode; usually the outdoor air or ground. See air-source heat pump and ground-source heat pump. (southern rock exposure) and a cool northern forest glen.

It all seemed so — natural …

Pondering the Sorry State of Green Building

Posted on November 12, 2012 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

After several months off from my blog, I am finally inspired to start writing again. I clearly don’t have the stamina of Allison Bailes of Energy Vanguard, who seems to put up a blog post about every 10 minutes, but I do need to get back on track so I don’t fade into obscurity (if I haven’t already).

Passivhaus Practitioners Share Their Success Stories

Posted on November 9, 2012 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A group of about 130 designers, builders, and Passivhaus fans gathered at U Mass Boston on October 27, 2012 to attend a one-day conference organized by 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. New England.

It's impossible for this report to be comprehensive, unfortunately, and I won't be able to do justice to all of the conference events. My report will focus on three speakers: Adam Cohen, Chris Corson, and Roger Normand.

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.

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