The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Nine Surprising Signs That Momentum Is Building for Climate Action

Posted on May 19, 2015 by Seth Shulman in Guest Blogs

A spate of recent developments suggests momentum is building to address climate change — including some truly unexpected and inspiring signs in the United States and around the world.

Of course, huge obstacles remain: Florida Governor Rick Scott would allegedly like to censor any official mention of the subject. Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe still seems to think that carrying a snowball onto the floor of the Senate offers some kind of "evidence" that global warming is hoax.

Smart Scheduling Helps Projects to Finish on Time

Posted on May 19, 2015 by Michael Patterson in Green Building Blog

It’s been said that stereotypes are stereotypes because they contain a grain of truth. While “two weeks” may be funny, it hits close enough to home that whatever smile we contractors may have is a bit pinched, and whatever smiles our clients may have are knowing ones. I’m all for smiles, but I’d rather they be the satisfied grins of contractors and homeowners whose jobs went according to plan. Scheduling a project well ensures that satisfied grins are the rule.

Is Passivhaus Right for a Cold Canadian Climate?

Posted on May 18, 2015 by Kent Earle in Guest Blogs

This is something I’ve been wrestling with since we decided on building a superinsulated, highly energy efficient home. And really this is something that I think a lot of builders, architects, and designers of eco- and green homes have been debating since the PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. concept came to North America in the past few years.

The Return of the Vapor Diffusion Bogeyman

Posted on May 15, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Fully aware that I am engaging in gross oversimplification, I’m going to offer a cartoon version of the History of Vapor Barriers. (I’m not a cartoonist, though, so someone else will have to make the drawings.) Here goes:

Panel 1: In the late 1940s, residential building codes in the U.S. began requiring the installation of vapor barriers on the interior side of walls and ceilings. These requirements had complicated historical origins but were not based on credible building science.

The Case for Continuous Insulation

Posted on May 14, 2015 by Brice Hereford in Guest Blogs

Over the last few years, New England and other cold regions of the U.S. have seen a growth in the use of rigid insulation on the exterior of buildings. This use of exterior rigid foam first started appearing in commercial buildings and was driven primarily by the International building codes which required steel-stud buildings to place rigid foam on the exterior of the structure.

How to Save an Old House

Posted on May 14, 2015 by Steve Baczek in Green Building Blog

Located in the historic district of Wayland, Mass., this 1850 Cape was added onto several times throughout its history. When we started our work, the house was empty, was in serious disrepair, and lacked even minimal modern performance standards. The house easily could have been designated as a teardown. My client was sensitive to the house’s architectural contribution to his community, though, and instead chose to breathe new life into it.

Nest Thermostat Data Revealed for First Time

Posted on May 13, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

The Nest thermostat has been around since October 2011, quietly collecting data on how your home — and the homes of hundreds of thousands of your neighbors — operates. It gathers information about indoor temperature, relative humidity, air conditioner runtime, auxiliary heat operation for heat pumps, and much more. Unlike the Ecobee thermostat, however, Nest doesn't let its owners see all those data (which is a problem only for energy geeks really). Enter Michael Blasnik.

Healthy People Live With Trees

Posted on May 12, 2015 by Brian Bienkowski in Guest Blogs

Ray Tretheway has been in the tree business for more than three decades in Sacramento – a city notorious for ambitious city tree planting.

He talks of successful programs with energy suppliers and multiple schools. The Sacramento Tree Foundation, where Tretheway works as Executive Director, has a lofty goal of planting five million trees.

But even a veteran like Tretheway and his tree-loving city struggle with one of the major issues of urban tree planting: higher income areas just seem to end up with more trees.

Heating and Cooling in North Dakota

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Adam Emter is building a new house in North Dakota, a Climate Zone 7 location with some 9,500 heating degree days a year, and temperatures that fluctuate from 30 below zero in the winter to a humid 90 degrees during the summer.

"My family and I plan on living here for many decades," Emter writes in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, "so I'm very focused on building an efficient and comfortable house. I am also trying to keep a reasonable budget and simple design."

A New Roof Over the Old One

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Peter Bennett in Green Building Blog

My rustic 1930s post-and-beam home in Vermont had a definite roof problem: It was poorly insulated and susceptible to ice dams. But when I started working on a design for upgrading the insulation, I wasn’t willing to lose the look of the cathedral ceiling and the exposed-pole rafters by insulating on the inside. Because I needed to replace the 30-year-old cedar shakes anyway, it appeared an opportune time to fix the problem from the outside.

Register for a free account and join the conversation


Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!