The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Portland, Oregon

Is Saving Energy Expensive?

Posted on February 9, 2009 by Peter Yost in Building Science

70% energy savings are not only possible, they can be affordable. Why we need, and what we don't know about, deep energy retrofits

At the recent Affordable Comfort conference in Portland, Oregon, I was on a really interesting panel with Linda Wigington of Affordable Comfort, Katrin Klingenberg of the Passive House Institute US, and Alistair Jackson of O’Brien and Company (we—and the audience—had superb “adult supervision” from a leading Portland architect, Nathan Good). The question the panel wrestled with was this: Just how low can we get the total household energy use of existing homes when we do whole-house retrofits on different building types in different climates?


Slums of the Future

Posted on February 9, 2009 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Peak-oil alarmists have been predicting for several years that rising fuel costs will eventually make large houses and long commutes unaffordable. According to this scenario, American suburbs are destined to become slums.


Nudging Us Toward an Efficient Future

Posted on February 8, 2009 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

I read an article in The New York Times today about the concept of “nudging” people towards better behavior. The story noted that after etching images of flies in the urinals at the Amsterdam airport, “spillage” on the men’s room floor dropped by 80%. An expert in behavioral economics stated “Men evidently like to aim at targets”.


The Earth is Our Drug Dealer

Posted on February 5, 2009 by Carl Seville in Green Building Curmudgeon

As I was reading about a bill in the Georgia legislature (unlikely to pass) forcing utilities to stop buying coal from mountaintop removal, it occurred to me that our dependence on fossil fuels and the havoc that they are wreaking on the environment is kind of a cruel joke played on us by the Earth.

Free samples mean customers for life

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.

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