The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Roofing and Cladding for the Orenco Passivhaus

Posted on July 30, 2015 by Mike Steffen in Guest Blogs

This is Part 4 of a blog series describing construction of the Orchards at Orenco project in Oregon. The first installment was titled The Largest Passivhaus Building in the U.S.

The 2015 Solar Cooking Festival

Posted on July 29, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

If you've ever wanted to learn how to cook with the sun, the 2015 Solar Cooking Festival in Sacramento was the place to be.

This is the second year of the event, which is hosted by Solar Cookers International. They had quite a variety of solar cookers on display, from simple, two-panel low-temperature solar cookers to large, high-temperature cookers with concrete bases. There was also a cook-off and lots of advice for those who want to learn more.

Beyond Recycling

Posted on July 28, 2015 by Josh Lepawsky in Guest Blogs

Agbogbloshie, Ghana, is in the news again. International media — including The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and The Washington Post — have helped turn this place into an infamous example of electronic waste (e-waste) dumping.

I study global flows of discarded electronics, and that research leads me to think that such images badly misrepresent Agbogbloshie, which has been called “the world’s biggest e-waste dumpsite.”

After Lithium-Ion, What?

Posted on July 27, 2015 by Matthieu DuBarry and Arnaud Devie in Guest Blogs

Many of us would be hard-pressed to spend a day without using a lithium-ion battery, the technology that powers our portable electronics. And with electric vehicles (EVs) and energy storage for the power grid around the corner, their future of this battery technology appears pretty bright.

Misconceptions About HRVs and ERVs

Posted on July 24, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Since refrigerators have been around for almost a hundred years, most Americans know what a refrigerator is used for. But heat-recovery ventilators (HRVs) and energy-recovery ventilators (ERVs) have only been around for about 30 years, and many Americans still don’t know much about these appliances.

GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com regularly receives questions that show that some homeowners are confused about the purpose of these appliances, so it’s worth examining and debunking common misconceptions about HRVs and ERVs.

Walls and Windows for the Orenco Passivhaus

Posted on July 23, 2015 by Mike Steffen in Guest Blogs

This is Part 3 of a blog series describing construction of the Orchards at Orenco project in Oregon. The first installment was titled The Largest Passivhaus Building in the U.S.

How Much Will Shading Your Air Conditioner Improve Its Efficiency?

Posted on July 22, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I got a question this weekend that's often asked — and, I'm sure, wondered about — by homeowners: "Will my household AC system run more efficiently (perhaps cycle on/off fewer times, or the compressor won't have to run as long when it cycles on) by shading the compressor?"

I've written about the outdoor unit of air conditioners and heat pumps a few times, but I've never tackled this question directly. Let's change that now.

An Inside Look at the New PHIUS Standard

Posted on July 21, 2015 by Katrin Klingenberg in Guest Blogs

Since 2012, 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. Institute U.S. has worked on delivering a standard that would make it easier and more practical for professionals to deliver ambitious, performance-based, energy-efficient designs. PHIUS also sought to make a standard that would be useful in wider policy proposals.

In the process, PHIUS addressed climate-specific and economic issues that had surfaced while applying the European Passivhaus criteria to buildings across North America’s varied climate zones.

Why Are Houses Built This Way?

Posted on July 20, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Readers of GreenBuildingAdvisor's Q&A forum, and the bi-monthly Q&A Spotlights, are probably used to thorough parsings of seemingly small details in high-performance construction. But GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com reader Peter L. brings our attention to an elemental question: Are we still in the dark ages of residential building?

Saving Energy With an Evaporative Cooler

Posted on July 17, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Evaporative coolers are appliances used to cool indoor air. Evaporative coolers use much less energy than air conditioners, but they can’t cool indoor air effectively in all weather conditions.

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