The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Can Swimming Pools Be Green?

Posted on May 12, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Question: What do the following homes have in common?

  • An 11,000-square-foot home in St. Charles, Ill., touted as “one of the greenest homes in the Chicago area.”
  • A 5,100-square-foot home at Live Oaks Estates in San Rafael, Calif., marketed as green by an Eco-Broker.
  • A 6,100-square-foot home in West Vancouver, British Columbia, aiming for LEED for HomesLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. Gold certification.
  • A 3,000-square-foot home on Block Island, R.I., aiming for LEED for Homes Silver certification.
GE refrigerator LG

Buying a New Refrigerator

Posted on May 12, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In a typical home, the refrigerator accounts for about 8% of the total annual energy expense, according to 2005 data from the U.S. Department of Energy. While this energy consumption for food storage is significant, it’s far less than it was a few decades ago. In the mid-1970s, an average new refrigerator used about 1,800 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, making it the single most expensive energy load in many homes.

Certification

Designation Exhaustion

Posted on May 11, 2009 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

Many industries have designations and certifications available for practitioners, some of which have strong legal implications, such as MD and RN. Many others have been created by professions themselves, and, while requiring varying levels of rigor to attain, these are primarily marketing tools, proper usage of which is enforced by the industry or association.

3D

How to Use Climate Consultant 4

Posted on May 8, 2009 by Peter Yost in Building Science

For over 2,000 locations across the country, there are hourly weather data files packed with temperature, humidity, and wind information that can be used to better match home designs to the conditions they will face. But to say that all this information is dense and overwhelming is a bit of an understatement.

GBA Radio  - Podcast: Building Science Fundamentals

The Perfect Wall, Roof, and Slab — Building Science Podcast

Posted on May 6, 2009 by Joe Lstiburek in Building Science

This podcast series is excerpted from a two-day class called Building Science Fundamentals with Drs. Joe Lstiburek and John Straube of Building Science Corporation. For information on attending a live class, go to BuildingScienceseminars.com This week Dr. Joe talks about enclosure design principles of energy efficient buildings

‘Innie’ Windows or ‘Outie’ Windows?

Posted on May 6, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED on April 3, 2016

Builders in northern states and Canada often specify exterior wall foam for new construction as well as for residing jobs on existing houses. Installing rigid foam on exterior walls reduces thermal bridgingHeat flow that occurs across more conductive components in an otherwise well-insulated material, resulting in disproportionately significant heat loss. For example, steel studs in an insulated wall dramatically reduce the overall energy performance of the wall, because of thermal bridging through the steel. through studs and (as long as the foam is thick enough) greatly reduces the chances of condensation in wall cavities. Current trends favor thicker and thicker foam; many cold-climate builders now routinely install 4 or 6 inches of EPSExpanded polystyrene. Type of rigid foam insulation that, unlike extruded polystyrene (XPS), does not contain ozone-depleting HCFCs. EPS frequently has a high recycled content. Its vapor permeability is higher and its R-value lower than XPS insulation. EPS insulation is classified by type: Type I is lowest in density and strength and Type X is highest., XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation., or polyisoPolyisocyanurate foam is usually sold with aluminum foil facings. With an R-value of 6 to 6.5 per inch, it is the best insulator and most expensive of the three types of rigid foam. Foil-faced polyisocyanurate is almost impermeable to water vapor; a 1-in.-thick foil-faced board has a permeance of 0.05 perm. While polyisocyanurate was formerly manufactured using HCFCs as blowing agents, U.S. manufacturers have now switched to pentane. Pentane does not damage the earth’s ozone layer, although it may contribute to smog. on exterior walls.

Persuading the sceptics

How We S’posed t’ Get Paid fer This Green Stuff?

Posted on May 6, 2009 by Michael Chandler in Business Advisor

I teach the NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. Certified Green Practitioner class, and it’s a wonderful gang of skeptics and beleaguered tough guys I’m faced with every time. These guys don’t sign up for the class until they’re ready and eager to learn, they want to build tighter, healthier, more durable and efficient homes. But they are convinced that the customer isn’t ready to pay for it. The bottom line is, they aren’t ready to sell it, and if they can’t get the contract signed at a price that supports the effort of stepping up to Certified Green building practices, this whole movement is dead in the water.

Kill-A-Watt image

Measuring Electricity Use

Posted on May 5, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I get a lot of questions about energy. Electricity consumption factors into many of them. Why are electric bills so high? How can I tell when it’s time to replace a refrigerator? Most of us have electric meters on our houses, but these measure your total household electricity use. To figure out what accounts for that overall figure, you need to measure the consumption of individual appliances and pieces of equipment. A really useful gadget for figuring out these sorts of questions is an electricity monitor.

Landis

Market Shifting

Posted on May 4, 2009 by Rob Moody in think-spot

Last month I had the great fortune to meet with Ethan Landis of Landis Construction Corp., a leading design/build firm in Washington, D.C. The company was founded in 1990 by Ethan, an MBA, and his brother Chris, an architect. They specialize in home renovations in the greater Washington area, and over the last few years, the Landis’ company has defined its commitment to green building. As Ethan explains, that definition is dynamic. I traveled up the Red Line to the Tacoma Park metro stop to spend a couple of hours talking to him about it.

AE living roof

Lessons Learned on a Living Roof

Posted on May 4, 2009 by Ann Edminster in Green Building Blog

We have a wee living roof on our home. After a couple of false starts, it’s looking quite winsome. Since it has posed a number of challenges, I thought I’d share our experience. Mistakes, after all, are more instructive (and entertaining) than successes.

How it started
Not well, actually. I was excited about the project—not only were we going to do something new; the result, a wildflower meadow, was going to be on view from our master bedroom.

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