The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

New Mexico Develops Innovative Water Efficiency Rating Score

Posted on February 11, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Energy usually gets top billing in the green building community. It has a huge impact on the environment. We sometimes pay a significant amount for it (although most of us don't pay enough to motivate serious change, but that's another story). We can do energy modeling and home energy ratings. Plus, it's just really interesting!

Convincing Clients to Upgrade to Pretty Good (or Better)

Posted on February 10, 2015 by michael maines in Guest Blogs

How do you convince clients to upgrade from code-minimum (or worse) construction to Pretty Good House, or better, levels of performance?

How do you ventilate a commercial-style range in an airtight house?

If your house was a car, what kind of car would it be?

What do these questions have in common? They were all discussion points at a December 2, 2014 conference in Maine, co-hosted by the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council (MIAQC) and the Maine Association of Building Efficiency Professionals (MABEP).

Attic-Insulation Upgrade

Posted on February 9, 2015 by Mike Guertin, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

Do you want to keep your heating costs from going through the roof? It’s easy: Keep your heat from going through the roof. Saving money on heating-fuel costs is a lot simpler than negotiating with OPEC or your local utility. On a recent upgrade in the attic of a 1950s-era house (one of two projects shown here), I air-sealed and spread a 12-in.- deep layer of cellulose throughout 1500 sq. ft. of space in about a day.

Split-System Heat-Pump Water Heaters

Posted on February 6, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Heat-pump water heaters are a type of air-to-water 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.. Almost all heat-pump water heaters sold in the U.S. extract heat from the air in the room where the water heater is located, transferring the heat to water in an insulated tank.

Insulating an Old Brick Dormitory

Posted on February 5, 2015 by Oliver Klein in Guest Blogs

Countless historic masonry buildings dot the American landscape, a large number of them falling under some form of aesthetic scrutiny prohibiting exterior insulation. The only option to make these buildings energy-efficient is to insulate them on the interior.

A Drainage Plane Time Bomb Defused

Posted on February 5, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I don't think I can ever say it enough, but the building enclosure consists of several control layers and each one has its job. The primary control layer is the one that keeps liquid water out, and it can be a tricky business.

Take the case of this condo building (yes, it's in the community where I live). It's got several problems, so I went to bat for building science here.

Radon and a Passive House

Posted on February 3, 2015 by Paul Honig in Guest Blogs

Let me start out by stating that I am neither a radonColorless, odorless, short-lived radioactive gas that can seep into homes and result in lung cancer risk. Radon and its decay products emit cancer-causing alpha, beta, and gamma particles. expert nor a 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. expert. That said, I do have experience with radon gas in a Passive House that I'd like to share.

Choosing the Right Wall Assembly

Posted on February 2, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Southwest Nebraska sounds like the kind of place that gets all kinds of weather: hot and occasionally humid summers, cold winters, and by many accounts lots of wind. This is where Nicholas C will be building his house, and the question is, how?

He's done so much reading on the subject that he's now confused by the number of options he has. Getting it right is important because Nicholas plans on living in the house for a long time.

His best thinking so far? A 2x8 stud wall framed on 16-inch centers and insulated with blown-in cellulose, then wrapped in 2 inches of rigid foam insulation.

Build Like This

Posted on February 2, 2015 by matthew omalia in Green Building Blog

In 2008, when my business partner and I decided to form a design/build firm, we agreed to build to the highest standard of sustainability and to do so cost-effectively. With all our projects, we hoped to achieve a synergy between designing for human comfort, building in response to the site, and achieving long-term durability. We quickly agreed that the 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. standard, which was just being introduced to the United States, would be the most comprehensive and clear measure of our success.

Rules of Thumb for Ductless Minisplits

Posted on January 30, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Since 2008, when Carter Scott built a pioneering Massachusetts house that was heated and cooled by just two ductless minisplits, GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com has endeavored to publish reports from the field to guide people designing homes that are heated and cooled by ductless minisplits. We’ve learned a lot on this topic since 2008.

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