The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Compartmentalization in Multifamily Buildings

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Sean Maxwell in Guest Blogs

At some point in our lives, we’ve all been in an apartment building or a hotel and smelled cigarette smoke or cooking odors from a neighbor. Or maybe you’ve heard an argument (or other things) going on next door that you didn’t want to hear. Let’s face it: living in apartment buildings is not without annoyances.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to alleviate some of these problems: by sealing up the gaps in the walls between apartments. This is “compartmentalization.”

A New Strategy for Drought-Stressed Cities

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Sybil Sharvelle in Guest Blogs

Many regions of the United States are struggling with water shortages. Large areas of the West are contending with moderate to severe drought, while California is now in the fifth year of one of the most extreme droughts in its history. Even non-arid regions, such as the Southeast, are not exempt from water shortages. At the same time, rapid population growth is increasing water demand in many of the nation’s most water-scarce regions, including California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

Do Earth Tubes Make Any Sense?

Posted on April 25, 2016 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Daniel McKinney is reaching four decades into the past for two important features of a new house he plans to build. Both notions were mostly discarded after early attempts at energy efficiency ledLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. builders in new directions, but McKinney thinks they may still have some merit.

A Lesson From the Kranichstein Passive House

Posted on April 23, 2016 by Bronwyn Barry in Guest Blogs

The global 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. community is converging on Darmstadt, Germany, this week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Kranichstein Passive House and the 20th anniversary of the International Passive House Conference.

Vegetated Roofs

Posted on April 22, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Vegetated roofs are low-slope roofs the have enough soil (or soil-like growth medium) on top of the roofing to support the growth of grass, wildflowers, or shrubs. Although some people call this type of roof a “green roof,” the term “vegetated roof” is more accurate and less confusing.

Blue Heron EcoHaus: Dealing With Really Bad Water

Posted on April 21, 2016 by Kent Earle in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: Kent Earle and his wife, Darcie, write a blog called Blue Heron EcoHaus, documenting their journey “from urbanites to ruralites” and the construction of a superinsulated house on the Canadian prairies. Their previous blog on GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com was called Making an ICF Foundation. The blog below was originally published in June 2015. (A complete list of Kent Earle's GBA blogs is provided in the “Related articles” sidebar below.)

More About Global Warming and Insulation

Posted on April 20, 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Well, I really stirred things up with my last article on insulation and global warming. My intention was to explain why Alex Wilson's results could be doing a disservice to the green building community. In the end, I was rightly accused of have done a disservice myself.

So, here goes with Part Three of my take on the global warming impact of insulation. Let's see if I can get closer to the truth this time.

Getting to Zero Waste

Posted on April 19, 2016 by Steven Cohen in Guest Blogs

One of the goals of a sustainable city is to effectively manage material flows into and out of the city. Garbage, or what environmental engineers call solid waste, presents some of the most difficult challenges to urban sustainability.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Dana Dorsett in Guest Blogs

Your old furnace or boiler is gasping its last breath and it’s time to pull the trigger on something newer, more reliable, and more efficient. How do you quickly size the new equipment?

If you leave the sizing calculations to HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. contractors, most would replace the old furnace with equipment that has a comparable output rating. That would guarantee that you wouldn’t get cold, but at least 19 times out of 20, that would be a mistake.

Is Your Ventilation System Working?

Posted on April 15, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

What’s a “faith-based ventilation system”? It’s a ventilation system installed by a contractor who never verifies the air flow rates after the equipment is installed.

So, will this type of ventilation system work? It’s hard to say — because no one measured anything.

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