The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Air-to-Water Heat Pumps

Posted on January 8, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Most air conditioners and heat pumps sold in the U.S. — including most split-system air conditioners and ductless minisplits — are air-to-air heat pumps. During the winter, these appliances extract heat from the outdoor air and deliver warm air to a house through ducts or small fan-coil units. During the summer, these appliances deliver cool air to a house and dump unwanted heat into the outdoor air.

Repairing Rotten Trim

Posted on January 7, 2016 by John Michael Davis in Green Building Blog

If I look hard enough at any house here in New Orleans, I’m sure to see one: a length of casing, fascia or corner board, with a hideous scarf joint only a foot or two from the end. This joint wasn’t put there by the builder; it was added years later to repair a rotten section of trim.

We get a lot of rot down here, and the ends of the boards are often the first to go. When they do, the standard repair is to cut back to undamaged wood at a 45º angle (what’s known as a scarf joint), then attach a new section of trim using yellow glue and finish nails. Sometimes it looks good—for a while.

When Buildings Design Themselves

Posted on January 6, 2016 by Lance Hosey in Guest Blogs

Seven years ago, in my then-column for Architect magazine, I wrote that computerized automation eventually could fulfill the ultimate aims of green building by achieving dramatically better performance. Now the same magazine has taken up the same topic in a couple of recent articles.

GBA Prime Sneak Peek: Green Building in the Cheap Energy Era

Posted on January 5, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com Prime subscribers have access to many articles that aren't accessible to non-subscribers, including Martin Holladay's weekly blog series, “Musings of an Energy Nerd.” To whet the appetite of non-subscribers, we occasionally offer non-subscribers access to a “GBA Prime Sneak Peek” article like this one.

Choosing a Superinsulated Wall System

Posted on January 5, 2016 by Kent Earle in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: Kent Earle and his wife, Darcie, write a blog called Blue Heron EcoHaus, which documents their journey “from urbanites to ruralites” and the construction of a superinsulated house on the Canadian prairies. GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com first posted a blog about their decision not to seek Passivhaus certification in May 2015, and later posted a blog about how the couple decided to heat their house.

Solar Panels or Exterior Foam?

Posted on January 4, 2016 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Apollo S has been making steady energy upgrades to his pre-war Cape Cod style house in Massachusetts. He's replaced a steam heating system with a 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., and with help from the state's energy efficiency program, he air-sealed and insulated his attic with cellulose.

As a result, his $250-a-month energy bills are one-quarter what they used to be, and Apollo now has his eye on the next round of upgrades.

Green Building in the Cheap Energy Era

Posted on January 1, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Homeowners’ interest in energy efficiency measures waxes and wanes. During the 1970s, when oil prices repeatedly spiked upwards, everyone wanted to save energy. However, in the 1980s, when oil prices collapsed, Americans forgot about saving energy, and most of us reverted to our usual wasteful habits.

By 2008, oil prices were high again, and green builders were receiving lots of phone calls from homeowners who wanted lower energy bills. But between June 2014 and now, oil prices have collapsed again, tumbling from $115 to between $37 and $40 a barrel. This raises several questions:

One Man’s Quest for Energy Independence — Part 4

Posted on December 31, 2015 by Paul Kuenn in Guest Blogs

This is the fourth and last in a series of blogs by Paul Kuenn describing energy-efficiency improvements to his home in Appleton, Wisconsin. To read the first blog in the series, click here.

My Top 10 Building Science and Energy Efficiency Ideas of 2015

Posted on December 30, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

The year 2015 is almost finished. I've written 70 articles in the Energy Vanguard Blog and this one makes 49 here at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com. I've been to a bunch of conferences and talked to a lot of people. A lot of thoughts about building science, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and more have gone through my head. (Not to mention all the thoughts about skiing, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, and those things that I never let out of the confines of my skull!)

A Socioeconomic Context for Ice Dams

Posted on December 29, 2015 by Paul Eldrenkamp in Guest Blogs

This past winter, national insurance companies were sending their “catastrophe response teams” to the Boston area. I personally met with adjusters and cleanup crews from places as far ranging as Minnesota, Utah, Tennessee, and Alabama.

The catastrophe had nothing to do with hurricanes or earthquakes or wildfires, of course — it had to do with the simple physics of heat loss from homes melting snow on roofs, and the unavoidable reality that the resulting water ended up in living spaces. Very little is more troubling to a homeowner than water where it doesn’t belong.

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