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Nuclear plant

Thoughts on Nuclear Power – Part 2

Posted on February 3, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Last week I described why some environmentalists have shifted their position and now support nuclear power, and I described how we might be able to store nuclear waste more safely and cheaply than in the Yucca Mountain facility. So what’s wrong with nuclear power? Why not move full-steam-ahead with this much more climate-friendly power generation option?

Vermont Yankee reactor

Thoughts on Nuclear Power

Posted on January 27, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Continuing in the recent thread of examining various power generation technologies, this week I’ll weigh in on nuclear power. I do this against my wife’s better judgment, and perhaps out of concern that my columns haven’t been generating enough controversy.

Let me start with the bottom line—that I am generally opposed to nuclear power, and I do not support the relicensing of Vermont Yankee beyond 2012. But some of my thoughts on both the benefits and concerns about nuclear power differ considerably from the standard no-nukes arguments.

What’s to like about nuclear power?

More Cool Products From the International Builders’ Show

Posted on January 23, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Here’s my latest round-up of cool products from the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

InSoFast polystyrene panels

A Minnesota company, InSoFast, is selling 2-in.-thick expanded polystyrene panels for finishing the interior of basement walls. The panels have several good design features, including vertical drainage channels on the back side, vertical polypropylene strips that accept screws when attaching drywall, and integrated wiring chases.


Everything is Colored Green at the IBS

Posted on January 22, 2009 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

Just leaving the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas, and even though attendance was down, it is as overwhelming an experience as ever.

First, let’s get rid of the formalities. Las Vegas has to be the most surreal place on the face of the earth. The scale is not even close to being human - everything is huge – the buildings, the roads (typically 8 lanes wide), casinos, hotel rooms, and this trade show.

Crawl space insulation

Well, They Got It Half Right

Posted on January 22, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

At the International Builder’s Show, several demonstration homes have been set up in the parking lot outside the Las Vegas convention center.

The Environments for Living show home has a display promoting the advantages of ventless conditioned crawl spaces; so far, so good. But instead of following best-practice advice and insulating the crawl space walls with rigid foam, the Environments for Living home designers chose to install fiberglass batts between the floor joists — a feature proudly displayed behind a Plexiglas viewing panel.

Logix ICF 2

New Green Building Products — January 2009

Posted on January 21, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

LAS VEGAS, NV — Wandering the trade show floor at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas today, I stumbled upon several intriguing new products. Here are four of them.

Serious Energy windows

Serious Energy, a window manufacturer that recently acquired Alpen Windows, has made several improvements to Alpen’s line of windows with pultruded fiberglass frames. Windows from Serious Energy (formerly known as Serious Materials) are available with Heat Mirror glazingWhen referring to windows or doors, the transparent or translucent layer that transmits light. High-performance glazing may include multiple layers of glass or plastic, low-e coatings, and low-conductivity gas fill. from Southwall Technologies.


Green Paint Sets the Scene

Posted on January 20, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

As the plane descends into the Las Vegas airport, every arriving visitor notices the stark contrast between the desert environment of southern Nevada and the modern city of swimming pools and irrigated shrubbery. After arriving today, I took the shuttle bus to the Bally Hotel, across the street from the Bellagio. The Bellagio overlooks an 8-acre artificial lake — in essence, the largest swimming pool in town, in a town known for its large pools — where a few lonely ducks swim in the chlorinated water.

Brattleboro’s Historic Landfill Gas System

Posted on January 20, 2009 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In last week’s column I examined a fairly unusual local power source: the Northfield Mountain pumped hydropower system, which is used for “storing” electricity—by pumping water uphill. This week we’ll take a look at a very different power-generation system that’s even closer to home: the landfill gas power plant at the Windham Solid Waste Management District (WSWMD) facility on Ferry Road.


Energy Edge Slab Insulation System

Posted on January 15, 2009 by Daniel Morrison in Green Building Blog

A solution in search of a problem? It depends.

Slab on grade construction is extremely common in the southeast and southwest US because it’s a fast, affordable way to get out of the ground and into the house. Slabs are also a great way to incorporate hydronic heating into a house.

Slab foundations can be energy sieves if not insulated on the outside with rigid foam. Both heat and cold can penetrate deep into a house through an un-insulated slab edge in summer and winter.


Getting Started in Green

Posted on January 14, 2009 by Daniel Morrison in Green Building Blog

Builders downsize square footage and learn from their mistakes

Since the 1970s, Jim and Mark Picton have been building houses for wealthy clients in Washington Depot, CT. “Five thousand square feet was the basic size of the houses we built,” says Mark. “The biggest one was around 14,000 square feet.”

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