The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Universal Design

Posted on June 13, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Why are most interior doorways only 30 inches wide? Why are so many doorknobs hard to grip? And why do so many homes have a long stairway between the front door and the bedrooms?

Two typical answers to these questions would be, “because that’s the way we’ve always built houses” and “because these houses meet code.” (Those two reasons happen to be pretty weak, by the way.)

Farewell!

Posted on June 12, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Transitions.

Back in June, 2008 I started writing a weekly column on energy for the Brattleboro Reformer, our local newspaper. I thought it would be fun to write a regular column on a topic that I’ve focused so much time on over the past 35-plus years. I was pretty confident that I could come up with enough topics to crank out a year’s worth of columns, and I thought some of the Reformer’s readers would appreciate such a column — geeky as it might be.

The Two Main Reasons Your Ducts Don’t Move Enough Air

Posted on June 11, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Two things. Just two things in your ducts are responsible for giving the blower in your furnace or air handler a hard time. They make the blower push against more pressure, thus reducing air flow or increasing energy use, depending on blower type. They cut the amount of air that gets delivered to the rooms. And they can be reduced but not eliminated. Do you know what they are?

Solving Our Design Problems

Posted on June 10, 2014 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

Once we bought our new house in the fall of 2012, we began to work on the new design. We were starting with a one-bedroom house measuring 1,142 square feet on one level. The house has a full basement.

Stop Using Propane and Oil and Go Electric

Posted on June 9, 2014 by Nick Sisler in Guest Blogs

One of the biggest mistakes many builders make is to install a heating system fueled by propane or oil heat without considering an electric heat pumpHeating and cooling system in which specialized refrigerant fluid in a sealed system is alternately evaporated and condensed, changing its state from liquid to vapor by altering its pressure; this phase change allows heat to be transferred into or out of the house. See air-source heat pump and ground-source heat pump.. In most cases that choice is costing the owners hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars a year in higher energy bills.

Vermont House Uses Only Half a Cord of Firewood

Posted on June 6, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

When my friend Laura Murphy mentioned that her neighbors in Ripton, Vermont, Chris and Zoe Pike, stayed warm last winter by burning just half a cord of firewood, I was intrigued. So I tracked down the Pikes to learn a few more details about their house.

Testing Building Assemblies for Moisture Resistance

Posted on June 5, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

When I was in Portland, Oregon, the week before last for the Living Future Conference, I had an opportunity to visit a facility in nearby Clackamas where building assemblies and components can be tested for water intrusion and water vapor penetration.

One of the high points of being a researcher and writer is the opportunity to visit really cool manufacturing and research facilities, so I usually jump at the opportunity to visit something new. I wasn’t disappointed on my recent trip.

The Top Two Reasons Powered Attic Ventilators Are a Waste of Money

Posted on June 4, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Three years ago I wrote an article titled, Don’t Let Your Attic Suck: Power Attic Ventilators Are a Bad Idea. Nearly a hundred thousand page views and 93 comments later, it's still generating lots of heat. I don't know why so many people are so defensive about powered attic ventilators (PAVs), but here are a few of the things they've said to me in the comments:

What Fruit Flies Taught Me About Sustainable Living

Posted on June 3, 2014 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Last summer my house developed a fruit fly infestation, due to the fact that I had a lot of fresh fruit sitting around ripening on my counters. I recall once using aerosol bombs to get rid of them, but I figured this time around I would look for a slightly less toxic solution.

A quick web search turned up details for a standard fruit fly trap, consisting of a jar with a little cider vinegar and dish soap, covered with clear plastic with a few holes in it. The flies are attracted to the vinegar, fly in, get coated with dish soap, and drown in the cider.

The Best Way to Insulate a Floor

Posted on June 2, 2014 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Jim Wright's house in western Arkansas has a post-and-pier foundation that elevates floor framing about 40 inches off the ground. Unlike a house with a basement, crawl space, or slab foundation, there is no enclosure at the bottom of the house, so the floor is more or less like another exterior wall.

How, Wright wonders, should this be insulated?

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