The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Green Building in the Cheap Energy Era

Posted on January 1, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Homeowners’ interest in energy efficiency measures waxes and wanes. During the 1970s, when oil prices repeatedly spiked upwards, everyone wanted to save energy. However, in the 1980s, when oil prices collapsed, Americans forgot about saving energy, and most of us reverted to our usual wasteful habits.

By 2008, oil prices were high again, and green builders were receiving lots of phone calls from homeowners who wanted lower energy bills. But between June 2014 and now, oil prices have collapsed again, tumbling from $115 to between $37 and $40 a barrel. This raises several questions:

One Man’s Quest for Energy Independence — Part 4

Posted on December 31, 2015 by Paul Kuenn in Guest Blogs

This is the fourth and last in a series of blogs by Paul Kuenn describing energy-efficiency improvements to his home in Appleton, Wisconsin. To read the first blog in the series, click here.

My Top 10 Building Science and Energy Efficiency Ideas of 2015

Posted on December 30, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

The year 2015 is almost finished. I've written 70 articles in the Energy Vanguard Blog and this one makes 49 here at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com. I've been to a bunch of conferences and talked to a lot of people. A lot of thoughts about building science, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and more have gone through my head. (Not to mention all the thoughts about skiing, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, and those things that I never let out of the confines of my skull!)

A Socioeconomic Context for Ice Dams

Posted on December 29, 2015 by Paul Eldrenkamp in Guest Blogs

This past winter, national insurance companies were sending their “catastrophe response teams” to the Boston area. I personally met with adjusters and cleanup crews from places as far ranging as Minnesota, Utah, Tennessee, and Alabama.

The catastrophe had nothing to do with hurricanes or earthquakes or wildfires, of course — it had to do with the simple physics of heat loss from homes melting snow on roofs, and the unavoidable reality that the resulting water ended up in living spaces. Very little is more troubling to a homeowner than water where it doesn’t belong.

New, Vented Crawl Spaces Should Be Illegal

Posted on December 28, 2015 by Brian Knight in Guest Blogs

For new homes, vented crawl spaces should be illegal. That may seem harsh, considering the entrenchment of this common, code-compliant construction detail. I am on board for most local and common practices when they're done right, but it's tough denying that most building science research is condemning the classic vented crawl space in a humid climate. It's time for this building practice to be outlawed for new construction.

Climate Affects Home Design

Posted on December 25, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you go to one of the many web sites that sell house plans, you can use filtering software to sort through hundreds of available plans by a variety of criteria: square feet, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, number of stories, or even “number of garage bays.”

On most of these sites, however, you can’t sort by climate zone. Why? Because most house plan companies ignore climate. They’re happy to sell customers in Minnesota the same house plan that they sell customers in Florida.

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Posted on December 24, 2015 by Adil Najam and Henrik Selin in Guest Blogs

At 7:27 p.m. local time on Saturday, December 12, 2015, a new Paris Agreement on global climate change was born after four years of taxing labor. Its much-anticipated birth was quickly followed by copious self-congratulations by many of the parents in the room who almost all were overcome by joy and bursting with pride.

For Storing Electricity, Utilities Turn to Pumped Hydro

Posted on December 23, 2015 by John Roach in Guest Blogs

In the past decade, wind energy production has soared in Spain, rising from 6% of the country’s electricity generation in 2004 to about 20% today. While that is certainly good news for boosters of clean energy, the surge in renewables has come with the challenge of ensuring that electric power is available when customers want it, not just when the wind blows.

One Man’s Quest for Energy Independence — Part 3

Posted on December 22, 2015 by Paul Kuenn in Guest Blogs

This is the third in a series of blogs by Paul Kuenn describing energy-efficiency improvements to his home in Appleton, Wisconsin. To read the first blog in the series, click here.

Choosing the Right Water-Resistive Barrier

Posted on December 21, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Yes, James Timmerberg's new house will have a water-resistive barrierSometimes also called the weather-resistive barrier, this layer of any wall assembly is the material interior to the wall cladding that forms a secondary drainage plane for liquid water that makes it past the cladding. This layer can be building paper, housewrap, or even a fluid-applied material. (WRB) on the exterior walls.

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