The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Row House Recharged

Posted on April 27, 2015 by Ross Levy in Green Building Blog

I first met Bill and Zahra through a school charity event and soon after designed a new set of stairs for them. A couple of years went by before they called with a bigger project in mind: to expand and rehabilitate their two-unit edwardian home on the sunny south side of San Francisco. The home was a standard San Francisco row house that had been lived in continuously for more than 30 years and was in poor condition. The house needed a lot of work, and the transformation would be dramatic.

Site-Built Ventilation Baffles for Roofs

Posted on April 24, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Roofs often require ventilation channels directly under the roof sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. — either for a short section of the roof (for example, near the eaves) or for the entire roof, from soffit to ridge. When the wind is blowing, these ventilation channels allow air to move from the soffit vents to the ridge vents.

Ozone Pollution in the West

Posted on April 23, 2015 by Jon Goldstein in Guest Blogs

Long familiar in major urban areas, smog — what we experts call “ground-level ozone” pollution — is quickly becoming a serious problem in the rural mountain west, thanks to rapid expansion in oil and gas development.

Smog has serious health impacts like aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, and even premature death. In areas like the Upper Green River Basin in Wyoming, smog levels have sometimes rivaled those in Los Angeles.

Blower Door Testing

Posted on April 23, 2015 by Larry Armanda in Green Building Blog

Air leaks in houses are a big problem. Leaks make homes uncomfortable and expensive to heat and cool. They create condensing cold spots that attract mold and rot. They lead to frozen pipes and make homes less resilient during prolonged power outages.

Is Cold Sheathing in Double-Wall Construction at Risk?

Posted on April 22, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Insulation is good. More insulation is better (although at some point, more may not be cost-effective). It reduces the amount of heat a home loses in winter or gains in summer.

White, Wealthy and Whiny: An Environmental Movement in Need of a Makeover

Posted on April 22, 2015 by Peter Dykstra in Guest Blogs

Now that I’ve gotten your attention with an over-the-top headline, understand that I don’t really buy it. Not completely, anyway.

But millions of Americans do, and because of that, pushback against environmental initiatives is both strong and often devoid of reason.

LEED Can Help Fix the Water Problem

Posted on April 21, 2015 by Stuart Kaplow in Guest Blogs

While news reports have recently focused on California Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order, in response to that state’s long-running drought, seeking to reduce overall water use by 25 percent, there may be more to be learned from how the small Town of Hampstead in Maryland responded to its own water crisis in 2008.

Despite the fact that the U.S. uses less water than it did in 1980, availability of potable water is increasingly an issue. According to the EPA, at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages this year.

Commissioning ERVs

Posted on April 20, 2015 by Greg Labbe in Guest Blogs

We were recently called to commission a fully ducted energy-recovery ventilation (ERV(ERV). The part of a balanced ventilation system that captures water vapor and heat from one airstream to condition another. In cold climates, water vapor captured from the outgoing airstream by ERVs can humidify incoming air. In hot-humid climates, ERVs can help maintain (but not reduce) the interior relative humidity as outside air is conditioned by the ERV.) system in a newly constructed, "near passive" house.

Save Energy With Storm Windows

Posted on April 20, 2015 by Mike Guertin, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

A client contacted me about installing replacement double-hung windows because she said the old ones were leaky and difficult to operate. It turned out that the double-hung wood windows on her 1960s ranch were actually in good condition. The problem was with the storm windows, which were aluminum triple-track models that had corroded. Many of the spring-loaded sash locks had frozen up, so the sashes wouldn’t latch in position, and the gasketing had dried up, allowing the sashes to rattle and leak air.

Fixing Attics With Vermiculite Insulation

Posted on April 17, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you're under the impression that natural insulation materials are the safest ones to use, it might be time to think again. Vermiculite is a natural insulation material — but it’s one that you definitely don’t want to have in your attic.

Vermiculite is a mineral mined from the earth, composed of shiny flakes that look like mica. When this mineral is put in an oven, it expands like popcorn. Expanded vermiculite is lightweight, fire-resistant, and odorless; since it has an R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. of about R-2 per inch, it was used for decades as an insulation material.

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