The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Exploiting the Elements of Passive Design

Posted on March 30, 2015 by James Tuer in Green Building Blog

Every site has a story to tell, and the right house can help to tell that story. Located on the western coast of Bowen Island in British Columbia, this house is a good example. My clients, a professor of East Asian archaeology and a researcher from Kyoto, Japan, had worked the land for years, cultivating extensive gardens of ornamental plants from around the world. When they approached me to design a house for the property, they had only two requests: The home must fit the site, and it should have minimal impact on the landscape. The rest of the design was left in my hands.

Walls With Interior Rigid Foam

Posted on March 27, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

There are two main ways of reducing thermal bridgingHeat flow that occurs across more conductive components in an otherwise well-insulated material, resulting in disproportionately significant heat loss. For example, steel studs in an insulated wall dramatically reduce the overall energy performance of the wall, because of thermal bridging through the steel. through studs: you can build a double-stud wallConstruction system in which two layers of studs are used to provide a thicker-than-normal wall system so that a lot of insulation can be installed; the two walls are often separated by several inches to reduce thermal bridging through the studs and to provide additional space for insulation., or you can install a continuous layer of rigid insulation on one side of the wall.

Most builders who install a continuous layer of rigid insulation use rigid foam (polyisocyanurate, expanded polystyrene, or extruded polystyrene); a small minority of builders use semi-rigid panels of mineral wool.

Builders who install rigid foam on the walls of a new building usually install the foam on the exterior side of the wall. There are several reasons for this:

Insulating With Damp-Spray Cellulose

Posted on March 26, 2015 by Leroy Anthony in Green Building Blog

Insulating any building can be a challenge, but the nonprofit energy-efficiency and weatherization company I work for, Community Environmental Center, frequently insulates old houses being rebuilt for residential group homes and elderly housing in New York City. These skilled-care buildings, like the one shown in these photos, are crammed with pipes, ducts, and wires, so they’re tough to insulate. They’re also located in dense urban neighborhoods that can be busy and loud.

Water Heaters Get an Efficiency Makeover

Posted on March 26, 2015 by Marianne DiMascio in Guest Blogs

From the rustic 1850s pump shower to the 1920s Humphrey automatic to today’s modern units, water heaters have made great strides in performance and efficiency. On April 16, water heaters will take the next great stride when manufacturers must comply with new Department of Energy (DOEUnited States Department of Energy.) efficiency standards.

The most common water heaters manufactured on and after this date will get a modest boost in efficiency, while units over 55 gallons will shift to next-generation technology, cutting utility bills by one-fourth to one-half depending on the technology.

A Home Energy Rating Is an Asset Label

Posted on March 25, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

When I'm explaining home energy ratings and the HERS Index to people, I often get asked, "How accurate is a HERS rating? Will my energy bills really be close to what it says?" In the mind of the questioner, that's one question. To someone who understands what HERS ratings really measure, it's two separate questions. Let me explain.

Coming in From the Cold

Posted on March 24, 2015 by Phil Kaplan in Guest Blogs

In the Northeast, there is a proud history of the craftsman, the homebuilder, the DIY hero and heroine. They work with sturdy tools, with local materials, with real wood. They brave the mean winters, cut each stick with caution, are frugal with lumber. They measure twice, and cut once. They have done this the same way over many years and the product is consistent, steady, exactly the same as it would have been, had it been built in 1953.

There’s only one problem. We live in a very different world than we did in 1953.

Why Tiny Houses Make Sense

Posted on March 23, 2015 by Gabriella Morrison in Guest Blogs

With past housing booms and crashes and the potential, if not probability, for history to repeat itself, many of us in the tiny house world understand these risks and the need to protect ourselves from future housing crises by living tiny.

We were recently directed by Ryan Mitchell from The Tiny Life website to an informative article which covers housing trends, the economy, and where things are headed. The author, Richard Florida, points out that another perfect storm for a real estate crash is brewing (much like the 2008 crash).

Solar Hot Air Collectors

Posted on March 20, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A solar hot air collector is basically a black box with glass on one side. Instead of heating fluid that circulates through tubing, a solar hot air collector is like a parked car. When the sun shines on the collector, the air inside gets hot. A solar hot air collector usually includes a hot air duct connection at the top and a return-air duct connection at the bottom. To improve efficiency, most solar hot air collectors have a black metal baffle or screen behind the glass that allows air flow on both sides.

Six Myths of Sustainable Design

Posted on March 19, 2015 by Lance Hosey in Guest Blogs

A couple of weeks ago, the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce published an opinion piece titled, "Why green building has hit the wall, and what to do about it." The author, long-time green building advocate Jerry Yudelson, laments the relatively low rate of green building certification and asks, "Why hasn't the current system had more marketplace success?"

A Beautiful Near-Net-Zero-Energy Home in Utah

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

It's the day after St. Patrick's Day, so let me tell you a wee bit about the O'Mearas. Kevin and Svetlana O'Meara live in a beautiful home in Utah that's oh-so-close to being a net-zero-energy home. After I wrote about how home building is like skiing two years ago, Kevin invited me out to see their home and this year I managed to to do so.

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