The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Why Real Estate Developers Are Ignoring the Middle Class

Posted on May 16, 2017 by Geoff Dembicki in Guest Blogs

The real estate industry knows there’s huge demand for less expensive homes. It’s aware that millions of people in Canada and the U.S. don’t have the financial means for a million-dollar mortgage. It gets that this is a growing problem. But real estate developers aren’t that interested in solving it. Land in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto is expensive. Developers — and the industry at large — make much bigger profits building luxury homes for wealthy people than affordable homes for the rest of us. It’s why so few new developments are targeted towards average incomes.

All-Electric vs. Natural Gas

Posted on May 15, 2017 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Given a photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. system with a capacity of as much as 8 kilowatts, does it make any sense to include natural gas appliances in a new house, or would an all-electric design be more practical?

That's the question Markus ponders as he plans a new house in Houston, Texas. Although he has natural gas service in the house where he currently lives, the size of his new rooftop solar system could prompt a change of heart.

All About Earth Tubes

Posted on May 12, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

An earth tubeVentilation air intake tube, usually measuring 8 or more inches in diameter and buried 5 or more feet below grade. Earth tubes take advantage of relatively constant subterranean temperatures to pre-heat air in winter and pre-cool it in summer. In humid climates, some earth tubes develop significant amounts of condensation during the summer, potentially contributing to indoor air quality problems. is a buried ventilation duct. The idea behind burying ventilation ducts — the ducts conveying fresh outdoor air to a building — is that the soil surrounding the ducts will warm the ventilation air during the winter and cool the ventilation air during the summer.

Earth tubes can work, as long as:

  • the duct is installed in a climate with useful soil temperatures,
  • the duct has a large enough diameter,
  • the duct is long enough,
  • the duct is buried deep enough,

Architects Show Leadership in Addressing Climate Change

Posted on May 11, 2017 by Victor Olgyay in Green Building Blog

Architects have a big responsibility for the role that the built environment plays in climate change. Globally, buildings consume 35% of all energy and 60% of all generated electricity — much of which is produced by fossil fuels. As the largest end-use energy sector, buildings account for more than one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, all buildings, from our homes, offices, schools, or shopping centers — and the architects who design them — can either exacerbate our climate problem, or be a foundational part of the solution.

The Difficulty of Updating Georgia’s Energy Code

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Seven years ago, Georgia led the nation. Yep. We were the first state to adopt an energy code that made blower door testing mandatory. All new homes built in the state had to show through performance testing that they had an air leakage rate of less than 7 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals of pressure difference (ach50).

What’s Driving the Cost of Residential Solar-Plus-Storage?

Posted on May 9, 2017 by Anonymous in Guest Blogs

By KRISTEN ARDANI and DAVID LABRADOR

The residential solar-plus-storage market has certainly received a lot of attention in recent months. With the release of new, lower-cost products and implementation of utility time-of-use and demand-charge rate structures, the overall economics of photovoltaics (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.)-plus-storage systems continue to improve — but questions remain as to what’s ultimately needed to achieve widespread deployment.

Boulder Commons Sets New Standard for Net-Zero Leases

Posted on May 8, 2017 by Kelly Vaughn in Guest Blogs

Just two miles from downtown Boulder, Colorado, a new net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. (NZE) development is under construction: Boulder Commons. The project consists of two commercial buildings totaling roughly 100,000 square feet of professional office space and boasting a restaurant, coffee shop, and community gathering flex space — all accessible by Boulder’s vast trail and public transportation network.

All About U-Factor

Posted on May 5, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

The familiar NFRC sticker found on most new windows sold in the U.S. includes a number in the upper left-hand box labeled “U-factor.” For many homeowners and builders, an encounter with this sticker represents their first exposure to U-factor.

Once people understand that a window has a U-factor, they might learn that walls and ceilings can have a U-factor, too. At that point, confusion may begin.

Toronto Passive: High-Efficiency Lighting

Posted on May 4, 2017 by Lyndon Than in Guest Blogs

Editor's Note: Lyndon Than is a professional engineer and Certified Passive HouseA 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. Consultant who took a year off from work to design and build a home with his wife Phi in North York, a district of Toronto, Ontario. A list of Lyndon's previous blogs at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com appears in the sidebar below. For more, you can follow his blog, Passive House Toronto. This post originally appeared in November 2014.

Large-Scale Solar Power Is Spreading Across the U.S.

Posted on May 3, 2017 by Cheryl Katz in Guest Blogs

This article was originally published at Yale Environment 360 and is reprinted here with permission.

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