The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Farewell to the Chimney?

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

For thousands of years, the chimney has been closely associated with our concept of home. Upon spying smoke curling from a distant chimney, the weary traveler ends his journey with lightened steps.

When I built my house in Vermont, as a much younger man than I am today, I designed a house with two chimneys. The house has a cellar, first floor, second floor, and attic; because I wanted the chimneys to rise five feet above the ridge, they had to be 40 feet tall.

Some products promise the world

How Do I Know That Green Materials Are REALLY Green?

Posted on June 4, 2009 by Lynn Underwood in Code Green

So, you’re thumbing through a magazine and see an article for an innovative green building material. The author touts the environmental friendliness of the product, and the entire article is dotted with the word “green.” A visit to the product website shows you similar claims of a truly green product.

Curmudgeon Design Meeting

Green From the Start – Home Edition

Posted on June 2, 2009 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

A few weeks ago I spent about eight hours with Barley and Pfeiffer Architects in Austin, TX, working up a preliminary design for my new house near Atlanta. While I certainly increased my carbon footprintAmount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that a person, community, industry, or other entity contributes to the atmosphere through energy use, transportation, and other means. by flying to Texas for this meeting, having been around the design and construction industry for a while, I decided that I wanted to go with the most experienced architects I could find for my new, green home. Peter Pfeiffer has been a friend of mine pretty much since the day he attended a jobsite tour of a “green” renovation project of mine.

ccp - tankless water heater

Storage vs. Tankless Water Heaters

Posted on June 2, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Last week I suggested some ways to reduce your hot water use. This is almost always the easiest way to save energy with water heating—it’s the “low-hanging fruit” to be sure. Over the next few weeks, I’ll get into water heating options. To start, let’s look at the differences between “storage” and “tankless” water heaters.

Michael Horowitz 2

Size Matters

Posted on June 1, 2009 by Michael Horowitz in Green Building Blog

By Michael Horowitz

Home buyers expect green scoring systems to provide guidance when choosing between green-labeled homes. These expectations are largely unfounded, however, since almost every rating system ignores or inadequately considers a major determinant of a home’s environmental impact — its size.

Unchecked gluttony

Kim Calomino 2

Size Doesn't Matter

Posted on June 1, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Green Building Blog

By Kim Calomino
Not to state the obvious, but the housing market is just that – a market. Homes come in countless varieties designed to meet the needs and wants of the countless types of buyers. If builders hope to sell houses, they must meet buyers’ demands.

Which buyer a builder is targeting, however, doesn’t (or shouldn’t) define how a home is constructed. And at its most basic, it is how a home is constructed that determines if it is green — that’s how, not how big.

A Continuum, Not an Absolute

Rock star

A Theory of Work: What Number Are You?

Posted on May 29, 2009 by Ann Edminster in Green Building Blog

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably encountered those wacky apps that ask, “What model car are you?” or “What flavor of jelly bean are you?” (Just as all green building questions have the same answer—"It depends"—so the answer to all of these quizzes is the same—"Who cares?!" And no, I’ve never actually taken one of those quizzes. Who has time??)

But—even though I can’t stand those Facebook gimmicks—here’s a quiz for you: Which type of worker are you?

Edminster’s Theory of Work

How do I know my alternative material meets code?

How Do I Know My Alternative Material Will Meet Code?

Posted on May 28, 2009 by Lynn Underwood in Code Green

The International Residential Code (IRC) prescribes only a few conventional buildings materials for use in building a home—concrete, dimensional lumber, masonry, and light-gauge steel framing. Any other materials must be approved according to "Alternative Materials and Methods of Construction" (see Can I Build My Home Out Of...?) in IRC Section R104.11. Following the testing provisions may be especially daunting for the first-time builder, but it can be done.

International Property Maintenance Code governs existing  buildings

The International Property Maintenance Code Governs Existing Buildings

Posted on May 28, 2009 by Lynn Underwood in Code Green

The IPMC calls for all buildings to be maintained in the condition they were when they were given a Certificate of Occupancy. This maintenance applies to several aspects of the home including structural integrity, architectural fire and life safety, means of egress as well as sanitary facilities and conditions. Property conditions around the building such as environmental conditions including noxious weeds, proper drainage, rodent harborage and sanitation are regulated as well.

Passivhaus Standard for Superinsulated Houses

Passivhaus For Beginners

Posted on May 27, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED on April 16, 2015

More and more designers of high-performance homes are buzzing about a superinsulation standard developed in Germany, the PassivhausA 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. standard. The standard has been promoted for almost two decades by the Passivhaus Institut, a private research and consulting center in Darmstadt, Germany.

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