The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

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.


Saving Energy by Saving Water

Posted on May 26, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Whenever we reduce water use, we also save energy. In fact, several of the most cost-effective energy saving strategies — projects with the quickest “payback” — are water conservation improvements that reduce hot water use. I’ll cover some of these strategies here, but first I want to explain why even reducing our cold water use saves energy.


International Residential Code Guides New-Home Construction

Posted on May 23, 2009 by Lynn Underwood in Code Green

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.) is a stand-alone codebook for new one- and two-family homes, regulating architecture, structure, energy efficiency, plumbing, mechanics, fuel gas, and electrical safety. For the production homebuilder, this is the Bible. While the IRC is dedicated to safety, it weighs in on health and sanitation in a variety of ways. For example, the IRC establishes light, ventilation, and heating standards and minimal sanitation rules, including toilet room and kitchen requirements.

Sofa chair

Marketing High-Performance Homes

Posted on May 21, 2009 by Dina Lima in Business Advisor

High performance homes save energy, conserve water, are more durable, cost less to maintain, are healthier for the occupants and are less stressful on the environment. Simply put, they are better homes! However, how do you explain “better” to your customers to help them make the decision to buy your green-built homes?

Here are some tips to help you market and sell more homes.

Building codes aren't just a good idea, they're the law

What Is the Building Code?

Posted on May 21, 2009 by Lynn Underwood in Code Green

Building Codes were established a long time ago as a way to ensure a minimum level of safety and sanitation. Plumbing codes keep our houses sanitary. Electrical codes reduce the risk of accidental electrocution and our homes from burning down. General building codes help stop the spread of fire if they do burn, but they also dictate structural stability based on natural calamities such as hurricanes, earthquakes, wind, flooding or temperature conditions as well as man-made events such as fires.

GBA Radio  - Podcast: Building Science Fundamentals

Rain Control in Energy Efficient Buildings - Building Science Podcast

Posted on May 20, 2009 by Joe Lstiburek in Building Science

This podcast series is excerpted from a two-day class called "Building Science Fundamentals" taught by Dr. Joe Lstiburek and Dr. John Straube, both of Building Science Corporation.

West Asheville Passive House

Passive House: What Do You Think?

Posted on May 20, 2009 by Rob Moody in think-spot

Passive House Project in Asheville, N.C., Poses Many Questions and Lessons

Check out floor plans, site plan, a model and details plans of this project.

Over the next few months, I will be following an interesting infill project here in Asheville. It’s an 842-square-foot house, following the Passive House Institute standards.

O Ecotextiles Natural-Fiber Fabrics image

Natural Fibers, Part Three: It's A Wrap!

Posted on May 20, 2009 by Annette Stelmack in design-matters

A few additional thoughts about natural, eco-friendly fabrics to take into consideration:

To dye or not to dye
Best practice is using natural, undyed fabrics, but who wants to live in a world without color? Look for natural dyes without the use of heavy metal dyes. Another eco-friendly option is a closed-loop system that used low-impact reactive dyes.

O Ecotextiles Natural-Fiber Fabrics image

Natural Fibers, Part One: The Ultimate in Comfort

Posted on May 19, 2009 by Annette Stelmack in design-matters

Surrounding ourselves with natural fibers is like comfort food—inviting and comfortable in so many ways. All-natural materials like cotton, wool, soy silk, flax/linen, ramie, bamboo, Tencel, corn, jute, and hemp also have less embodied energy than their petroleum-based counterparts.

Do PV Systems Make Sense?

Thinking About Net Zero Energy

Posted on May 19, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

UPDATED March 28, 2013

The average new home is so poorly built, it’s enough to make an environmentalist weep.

Windows are routinely installed without any consideration of orientation. As a result, south windows fail to take full advantage of free solar heat during the winter, while west windows worsen summer overheating. Windows are often installed in unshaded walls, even in hot climates. In the absence of legal requirements for high-performance windows, builders regularly choose windows with appalling U-factors and solar heat gainIncrease in the amount of heat in a space, including heat transferred from outside (in the form of solar radiation) and heat generated within by people, lights, mechanical systems, and other sources. See heat loss. coefficients (SHGCs).

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