The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

To Save Transportation Energy, Change Behavior

Posted on January 17, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Before the holidays I wrote a blog on how to save energy in the home by changing our behavior. This week we’ll take a look at some of the ways that we can save energy by changing our driving behavior. Below are some simple measures — most cost nothing and some even save money — to reduce your energy use for transportation.

How to Install a Branched-Drain Graywater System

Posted on January 16, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Back in the summer of 2003, I was finishing up the green home I'd started building in 2001. One of the last pieces we had to complete was the graywaterWastewater from a building that does not include flush-water from toilets and (as most commonly defined) water from kitchen sinks or dishwashers. In some places, graywater can be collected and used for subsurface irrigation. system, and we'd already put a lot of work into it before we ever moved a spadeful of dirt.

Two Years With a Minisplit Heat Pump

Posted on January 15, 2013 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

With the exception of one week in February 2011 where I switched back to the oil boiler to take some data before it went away, the Fujitsu 12RLS has now been heating the house for two years. The dedicated meter for the heat-pump system reads 2,584 kWh. So, it cost about $250 per year to heat our house, in mostly milder-than-normal weather. This is about 1/4 the cost of operating the oil heating system.

Do We Really Need 12 Inches of Foam Under Our Slab?

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Roger Normand in Guest Blogs

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the 21st article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

Exterior Insulation Is Like A Sweater For Your House

Posted on January 11, 2013 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

There are many construction and insulation approaches which allow a builder to create walls and ceilings with high R-values and low levels of air leakage, creating a much better envelope than is achieved with standard framing methods. Structural insulated panels (SIPs), insulated concrete forms (ICFs), double-stud walls, and advanced framingHouse-framing techniques in which lumber use is optimized, saving material and improving the energy performance of the building envelope. can all produce more energy-efficient buildings than the ol' stick-built number.

The one thing they can’t do is to improve the efficiency of an existing house.

Making Healthier, Greener Foam Insulation

Posted on January 10, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

As readers of this blog know, I’ve come down fairly hard on certain types of foam insulation over the years. The downsides include the blowing agents used in extruded polystyrene (XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation.) and most closed-cell spray polyurethane foam and the flame retardants that are added to all foam-plastic insulation to impart some level of fire resistance.

An Innovative Net-Zero Solar Decathlon House

Posted on January 9, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Twelve years ago, I discovered the Solar Decathlon. I was a new physics professor at a small university in Georgia, and I'd received a packet from the US Department of Energy describing the competition. It was set to have its first run in 2002, so I tried to figure out how to get involved and put together an entry. We didn't have design or construction programs, however, and the physics department that I was in was one of the most dysfunctional groups of people the world has ever seen.

Insulating Window Shades

Posted on January 8, 2013 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

One of the technologies I have tried in my house is an insulating window shade with side tracks. I got four Ecosmart cellular shades from Gordon Clements at Gordon's Window Decor. One is translucent, and the other three are blackout shades, achieving that by using aluminum foil inside the cells. Because the foil is reflective to radiant heat transfer, these shades have a higher insulating value than the translucent version.

Nostalgia for the Hippie Building Heyday

Posted on January 4, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A discredited theory of embryonic development held that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” — in other words, that the the developmental stages of an embryo (its ontogeny) mimic the stages of evolutionary development experienced by the species (its phylogeny). One piece of evidence supporting the theory: in early stages of development, a human embryo has a tail.

What I’m Hoping for in the New Year

Posted on January 3, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

With snow gently falling as the holiday season winds down, I find myself reflecting on the New Year and what we might hope for. World peace of course, and solving the poverty conundrum would be great.

But what about energy and the environment? Here are some thoughts:

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