The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Michael Chandler Blog Profile

What’s Wrong with the Home-Energy Audit Industry?

Posted on September 30, 2008 by Michael Chandler in Business Advisor

As satisfying as it is to build new high-performance homes, I have to admit that if I really cared about stopping global warming and conserving energy I’d refocus my company to perform home energy audits and work that would stop the outrageous waste of energy in our existing housing stock.

Mold in a vented attic

Preventing Moisture Problems

Posted on September 30, 2008 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

What’s moisture have to with energy? Quite a bit, actually. When we tighten up or insulate a house, there’s the potential of causing moisture problems that could harm your health by allowing mold to grow or affect the life of materials your house is built from. And any time you work on a house, especially when you do things that affect the exterior envelope (walls, roof, foundation), you’re provided with an opportunity to fix problems that may already exist.

CHP Brattleboro

Bringing Combined Heat and Power to Brattleboro

Posted on September 23, 2008 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Last week, I addressed some of the benefits of capturing waste heat from power plants and distributing it to buildings—a technology referred to as combined heat and power or CHP. This week we’ll look at how this idea could be implemented in Brattleboro—using sustainably produced wood chips as the fuel source.

Vermont Yankee reactor

Capturing and Distributing Waste Heat From Power Generation

Posted on September 16, 2008 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

The majority of our electricity in the United States is generated by using a heat source to boil water and produce high-pressure steam, which then spins a steam turbine hooked up to a generator. To generate this steam, our utility companies burn fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, or—as with Vermont Yankee—they rely on the heat of nuclear fission. (Only hydropower, wind, and solar electricity generation do not rely on a heat source and production of steam.)

Firewood

Comparing the Costs of Different Fuels

Posted on September 9, 2008 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

While energy prices have dropped from their record highs a few months ago, many area residents are still wondering how they’ll pay for heat this winter. The most common fuel in northern New England, heating oil, is still priced at over $4.00 per gallon.

But how does the price of oil compare with the price of other fuels and electricity? That sounds like a simple enough question, but it’s actually fairly complicated.

Rigid Boardstock Insulation

Rigid Boardstock Insulation

Posted on September 2, 2008 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In this final installment about insulation we’ll take a look at the family of rigid boardstock materials. Unlike fiberous or spray-foam insulation that is installed in wall or ceiling cavities between the studs, rafters, or joists, boardstock insulation is applied either on the interior or exterior surface, spanning across the framing.

Michael Chandler Blog Profile

The Greenest Beverage? Tap water. But What About Adult Beverages?

Posted on August 30, 2008 by Michael Chandler in Green Building Blog

Bottles are greener than cans, but is beer the greenest choice?

In a quest to discover the most environmentally benign beverage for backyard barbecues, one builder sifted through the options to help us drink greener.

I have nothing against water: I make coffee with it, paddle a canoe in it, and I even drink it every day. But it's not always what my empty hand is looking for when I settle down in the backyard and fire up the Weber.

Greening My Home: Biodiesel

Posted on August 28, 2008 by Daniel Morrison in Green Building Blog

Air sealing and insulating are a great first step, but switching fuels is a lot quicker and easier. I'll do the insulating after I get a bonus check!

I was standing in the cold on a dark December night, pouring diesel fuel from a five-gallon jug into the side of my house, when it really clicked: Houses consume a huge amount of oil. I had always gotten uptight about gas mileage in my cars and trucks (I had a full-size Ford pickup at the time) but, until that cold night, how much our houses gobble up had never really hit home.

Air Krete Foam Insulation image

Foam-in-Place Insulation

Posted on August 26, 2008 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

[This blog has been edited to correct some information on Tripolymer Foam. I continue to wish for greater transparency in the manufacturing industry. -Alex Wilson]

In recent columns, we’ve looked at cellulose insulationThermal insulation made from recycled newspaper or other wastepaper; often treated with borates for fire and insect protection. as well as fiberglass and other batt insulationInsulation, usually of fiberglass or mineral wool and often faced with paper, typically installed between studs in walls and between joists in ceiling cavities. Correct installation is crucial to performance. materials. The other option for filling wall and ceiling cavities is foam insulation that is sprayed into the cavity. There are several such materials that are used for this application, all installed by professional insulation contractors.

Batt insulation

Batt Insulation: Fiberglass, Mineral Wool, and Cotton

Posted on August 19, 2008 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Last week’s column addressed cellulose insulationThermal insulation made from recycled newspaper or other wastepaper; often treated with borates for fire and insect protection., which is the greenest and one of the most effective insulation materials available. But it isn’t always practical or affordable to install cellulose. To insulate walls with cellulose, it’s usually necessary to hire an insulation contractor, and if the job is very small—bumping out and reinsulating one wall of your home, for example—the cost may be prohibitive for that small improvement. This is where batt insulationInsulation, usually of fiberglass or mineral wool and often faced with paper, typically installed between studs in walls and between joists in ceiling cavities. Correct installation is crucial to performance. makes sense.

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