The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Manhole Cover

Green From the Start, Part III

Posted on February 13, 2009 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

I hear one particular question very frequently these days – “How much more does it cost to build a green home?” While this is an excellent question, it makes me realize just how far we still have to go in order to move towards a completely sustainable economy. Everything comes down to dollars with everyone. Even people with practically endless amounts of money are cost conscious. Not that it is a bad thing to be aware of what you are spending, but it isn’t good to make every decision based on cost.

hoisting the wind turbine into place

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

Posted on February 10, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at a few power-generation technologies: pumped hydro, landfill gas, and nuclear. This week, we’ll examine another option that’s been in the news a lot over the past few years: wind power.

Portland, Oregon

Is Saving Energy Expensive?

Posted on February 9, 2009 by Peter Yost in Building Science

70% energy savings are not only possible, they can be affordable. Why we need, and what we don't know about, deep energy retrofits

At the recent Affordable Comfort conference in Portland, Oregon, I was on a really interesting panel with Linda Wigington of Affordable Comfort, Katrin Klingenberg of the Passive House Institute US, and Alistair Jackson of O’Brien and Company (we—and the audience—had superb “adult supervision” from a leading Portland architect, Nathan Good). The question the panel wrestled with was this: Just how low can we get the total household energy use of existing homes when we do whole-house retrofits on different building types in different climates?

Slum

Slums of the Future

Posted on February 9, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Peak-oil alarmists have been predicting for several years that rising fuel costs will eventually make large houses and long commutes unaffordable. According to this scenario, American suburbs are destined to become slums.

Urinal

Nudging Us Toward an Efficient Future

Posted on February 8, 2009 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

I read an article in The New York Times today about the concept of “nudging” people towards better behavior. The story noted that after etching images of flies in the urinals at the Amsterdam airport, “spillage” on the men’s room floor dropped by 80%. An expert in behavioral economics stated “Men evidently like to aim at targets”.

KY-strip-mines

The Earth is Our Drug Dealer

Posted on February 5, 2009 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

As I was reading about a bill in the Georgia legislature (unlikely to pass) forcing utilities to stop buying coal from mountaintop removal, it occurred to me that our dependence on fossil fuels and the havoc that they are wreaking on the environment is kind of a cruel joke played on us by the Earth.

Free samples mean customers for life

Nuclear plant

Thoughts on Nuclear Power – Part 2

Posted on February 3, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Last week I described why some environmentalists have shifted their position and now support nuclear power, and I described how we might be able to store nuclear waste more safely and cheaply than in the Yucca Mountain facility. So what’s wrong with nuclear power? Why not move full-steam-ahead with this much more climate-friendly power generation option?

Vermont Yankee reactor

Thoughts on Nuclear Power

Posted on January 27, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Continuing in the recent thread of examining various power generation technologies, this week I’ll weigh in on nuclear power. I do this against my wife’s better judgment, and perhaps out of concern that my columns haven’t been generating enough controversy.

Let me start with the bottom line—that I am generally opposed to nuclear power, and I do not support the relicensing of Vermont Yankee beyond 2012. But some of my thoughts on both the benefits and concerns about nuclear power differ considerably from the standard no-nukes arguments.

What’s to like about nuclear power?

More Cool Products From the International Builders’ Show

Posted on January 23, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Here’s my latest round-up of cool products from the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

InSoFast polystyrene panels

A Minnesota company, InSoFast, is selling 2-in.-thick expanded polystyrene panels for finishing the interior of basement walls. The panels have several good design features, including vertical drainage channels on the back side, vertical polypropylene strips that accept screws when attaching drywall, and integrated wiring chases.

Consol

Everything is Colored Green at the IBS

Posted on January 22, 2009 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

Just leaving the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas, and even though attendance was down, it is as overwhelming an experience as ever.

First, let’s get rid of the formalities. Las Vegas has to be the most surreal place on the face of the earth. The scale is not even close to being human - everything is huge – the buildings, the roads (typically 8 lanes wide), casinos, hotel rooms, and this trade show.

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