The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Vinyl Windows and Vinyl Siding

Posted on August 16, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Should vinylCommon term for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In chemistry, vinyl refers to a carbon-and-hydrogen group (H2C=CH–) that attaches to another functional group, such as chlorine (vinyl chloride) or acetate (vinyl acetate). building materials be banned from green homes? Some environmentalists think so. There seem to be three categories of building materials that particularly irk the anti-PVC crowd: vinyl siding, vinyl windows, and vinyl flooring. Since there are alternatives to all of these materials, these environmentalists argue, green homes shouldn’t include any of them. (Although the anti-vinyl group sometimes mentions PVC pipe used for drains and vents, it seems that neither plastic pipe nor the vinyl insulation on Romex wiring raises as many hackles as vinyl siding, windows, and flooring.)

It Takes a Village to Be Resilient

Posted on August 15, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

The Dummerston Energy Committee, on which I serve in my home town, is conducting an energy survey.

Partly, we are conducting this survey to understand how our town uses energy — both in our homes and in our vehicles. We have a goal in Dummerston, articulated in our Town Plan, to reduce nonrenewable energy consumption 40% by 2030, and we’re trying to establish a baseline from which to measure our success in achieving that long-term target.

But we’re also conducting this survey for another reason that may be more important: to gauge how resilient our town is.

A Stupid — and Illegal — Way to Air Condition Your Garage

Posted on August 14, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Sometimes people do the craziest things. Take that photo at right, for example. That's a new home being built in Austin, Texas. The arrows point to three air conditioning ducts. In the garage. Yes, they're air conditioning the garage.

Adaptations That Accommodate Nature

Posted on August 13, 2013 by Vera Novak in Guest Blogs

In the green construction world, the word “adaptation” is used to describe the future uses of a building. Generally, the concept considers only human uses. But here in the United Kingdom — the latest stop on my European tour — adaptive use takes on a whole new meaning.

What Makes the ‘Best’ Air Barrier?

Posted on August 12, 2013 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Bill L. is planning a high-performance house in Massachusetts and is wrestling with options for the 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., that all-important building detail that enhances both energy efficiency and building durability.

Above-grade walls will consist of a 2x4 structural frame sheathed in 1/2-inch plywood, followed by I-joists packed with cellulose insulationThermal insulation made from recycled newspaper or other wastepaper; often treated with borates for fire and insect protection., another layer of 1/2-inch plywood, a corrugated plastic product to provide an air space, and fiber-cement siding. The primary air-barrier plane will be at the plywood over the 2x4 studs.

Rainscreen Gaps and Igloos

Posted on August 9, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

For the past 17 years, Joe Lstiburek and Betsy Pettit have hosted an annual conference, the Westford Symposium on Building Science, near their home in Massachusetts. Informally known as “summer camp,” the invitation-only gathering attracts hundreds of builders, engineers, architects, professors, and building science researchers.

The attendees listen to presentations at a conference center during the day and relax in Joe and Betsy’s backyard during the evening.

Getting Power From Solar Equipment When the Grid is Down

Posted on August 8, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

One of the biggest complaints I hear about most solar-electric (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. or PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) systems is that when the grid goes down you can’t use any of the power that’s produced. Consumers have spent thousands of dollars on a PV system, and during an extended power outage on a bright, sunny day when the PV modules are certainly generating electricity, they are disappointed that none of that electricity can be used.

ASHRAE 62.2 Committee Chair Defends Ventilation Standard

Posted on August 7, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

The great ventilation debate of 2013 roars on. Last month, I wrote about Building Science Corporation's residential ventilation standard for new homes, to be released officially at Building Science Summer Camp this week, and then followed that up with an interview with Dr. Joseph Lstiburek.

Sealed-Combustion Appliances and Hot Tub Parties

Posted on August 5, 2013 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

Sealed-combustion appliances are apt to become more common as the new energy codes introduce residential airtightness standards. This means that you’ll need to pay close attention to heating system safety. Fortunately, the new codes lay out explicit guidelines for combustion appliances.

Building and energy codes often get adopted piecemeal around the country. In Maine, we’ve adopted the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC International Energy Conservation Code.), but have exempted towns below a certain population level.

If Only Green Homes Could Be Sold Like Breakfast Cereal

Posted on August 2, 2013 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Just the other day, I was looking at a box of breakfast cereal. The largest lettering on the box were the three words naming the cereal: Frosted Shredded Wheat. Next in prominence came the tag line: “Contains 6 g. of fiber per serving.”

You’re probably thinking, “so what?” Manufacturers of processed food make claims like this so frequently that we’ve all gotten used to them.

Register for a free account and join the conversation


Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!