The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Fork in the road sign

When You Come to a Fork in the Code, Take It

Posted on March 2, 2009 by Lynn Underwood in Code Green

Building codes are ambitious documents that do a lot while offering flexibility in how they’re satisfied.

“The purpose of this code is to provide minimum requirements to safeguard the public safety, health and general welfare through affordability, structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, light and ventilation, energy conservation and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment.”
— Section 101.3 of the International Residential Code (IRCInternational Residential Code. The one- and two-family dwelling model building code copyrighted by the International Code Council. The IRC is meant to be a stand-alone code compatible with the three national building codes—the Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) National code, the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) code and the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) code.)

E-Myth Revisited cover

Every Green Builder Needs to Have This Book on the Shelf

Posted on March 2, 2009 by Michael Chandler in Business Advisor

There are a small number of books that have been so important to me that I buy them in quantity to give to friends. To new parents I give Kids Are Worth It by Barbara Coloroso, and to new employess, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Among the books I give to my fellow green builders is The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.

Bill Beasley and the NGBS

NAHB-ICC National Green Building Standard hits mailboxes!

Posted on March 1, 2009 by Michael Chandler in Business Advisor

It's big, it's green, but is it really a good thing?

The new NAHB-ICC National Green Building Standard (NGBS) guidebook hit mailboxes on Friday. I arrived home to this delightful picture in my in-box (see picture at right), along with an equally playful e-mail from my fellow shelter nerd, Bill Beasley.

Triple bottom line

Sustainable business begins with sustainable practices

Posted on February 26, 2009 by Michael Chandler in Business Advisor

The number at the bottom of your balance sheet doesn't tell the whole story about the success of your business.

As the green movement has evolved, it has been interesting and a little disheartening to see how many green businesses clearly "don't get" the concept of sustainable business. Green Building is about stepping lightly on our planet. Sustainable Business principles focus on the triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profits, each holding equal importance in the way we manage our businesses.

Solar fan vent

Are Solar-Powered Attic Ventilators Green?

Posted on February 26, 2009 by Peter Yost in Building Science

At face value, attic exhaust fans make a lot of sense: if your attic is too hot, you force more air through it to cool it down. To be efficient, you use a solar-powered attic exhaust fan. When the sun is shining and heating up your attic, that’s when the photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. panel wired to the exhaust fan powers the fan. Pretty slick.

Passivhaus window 2

Equipment versus Envelope

Posted on February 24, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Designers of high-performance homes know that there is always more than one way to reduce energy use. It can be daunting to optimize investments in energy-saving measures: even with the help of computer modeling software, designers need to exercise judgment.

Designers face such questions as: Does it make more sense to upgrade the attic insulation from R-40 to R-60, or to upgrade the water heater to a more efficient unit? Does it make more sense to upgrade from double-glazed to triple-glazed windows or to upgrade from a gas furnace to a ground-source heat pumpHome heating and cooling system that relies on the mass of the earth as the heat source and heat sink. Temperatures underground are relatively constant. Using a ground-source heat pump, heat from fluid circulated through an underground loop is transferred to and/or from the home through a heat exchanger. The energy performance of ground-source heat pumps is usually better than that of air-source heat pumps; ground-source heat pumps also perform better over a wider range of above-ground temperatures.?

Jøtul F 100 Nordic QT

Heating With Wood

Posted on February 24, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In the 27 years that I’ve owned my house in West Dummerston, Vermont, I’ve always used wood heat to some extent. But my commitment to it has ebbed and flowed. For about the first 15 years, I heated the house almost exclusively with wood. Built in 1785, the house had electric heat when I bought it, but with my work focused on energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, I couldn’t bring myself to use electricity for heating, because so much energy is wasted during power generation.

Peter Yost interview on Go Green Radio

Posted on February 18, 2009 by Brian Becker in Building Science

Listen to Peter and Go Green Radio host Jill Buck discuss what makes a green home. Peter emphasizes the importance of the building process as well as the products used. Also discussed are the new USGBCUnited States Green Building Council (USGBC). Organization devoted to promoting and certifying green buildings. USGBC created the LEED rating systems. 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. standards, building durability, building value over time, and how builders can develop their own green construction expertise.

Reinventing the U.S. Economy

Reinventing the U.S. Economy

Posted on February 17, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

The U.S. economy has run out of steam. Many Americans have concluded that the time has come for economic models based on never-ending growth to be replaced by an economy based on sustainability.

Although it’s easy to describe the promised land — a nation that spends within its means, does a better job of meeting human needs, protects the environment, provides adequate systems for mass transit, and eschews fossil fuels for renewable sources of energy — it’s hard to imagine a smooth transition between our existing “growth is good” economy and a sustainable future.

Vermont wind turbine

Wind Power Today and in the Future

Posted on February 17, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Last week we reviewed the history of wind energy, including its use for pumping water and generating power. This week we’ll take at look at the state of the art with wind power and what’s ahead.

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