The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Ranch Transformed, Efficiency Achieved

Posted on March 9, 2015 by Jesse Thompson in Green Building Blog

My wife, Betsy, and I searched for two years before we found the dump of our dreams: a tiny, dirt-cheap, and homely 1960s ranch that was within walking distance of our children’s school and was close enough to downtown Portland so that we could ride our bikes to work. Our hope was that we could renovate it into an affordable, stylish, and comfortable home. Our creative vision was strong enough to sense the glimmer of a diamond deep inside that forgotten home on Madeline Street.

NESEA Conference Highlights

Posted on March 6, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

BuildingEnergy, the annual conference sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEANorth East Sustainable Energy Association. A regional membership organization promoting sustainable energy solutions. NESEA is committed to advancing three core elements: sustainable solutions, proven results and cutting-edge development in the field. States included in this region stretch from Maine to Maryland. www.nesea.org), recently concluded in Boston. As usual, the NESEA conference was a great way to catch up with friends and to soak up information offered by some of the smartest scientists, engineers, designers, and builders in the country.

Here are notes from some of the presentations.

Stupid Multifamily Construction Tricks

Posted on March 5, 2015 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Although I spent most of my construction career working on single-family homes, the primary subject of this great website, I find that my current work involves primarily multifamily projects — mostly low-rise and mid-rise apartments that are seeking green building certification.

In these projects, my partner and I continue to see both new and recurring problems that are not resolved in the design phase, only to be pushed down to the field to be figured out — on a tight budget, in a hurry, and often in the cold or rain.

Is Modeling a Four-Letter Word?

Posted on March 4, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Energy modeling has gotten a bad reputation in the home performance world. One conference I've attended has gone so far as to say that it's "outside the sandbox" of topics presenters can cover. They want to see data, not modeled results. And they have good reason for that.

Buttoned Up for a New Century

Posted on March 4, 2015 by Jeremy R. M. Shannon in Green Building Blog

When my wife and I struck out on our own in 2005 to create our two companies, Prospect Architecture and Prospect Development & Construction, we wanted to lead the way in sustainable design and construction in New York City. Like many new firms, we rode the leading trends: LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. accreditation, recycled products, water conservation, energy efficiency, and local sourcing of products and services whenever possible. Carla and I approached our clients with the idea that building sustainably was not a choice—it was simply the way we worked.

Rethinking the Grid

Posted on March 3, 2015 by Karl Rábago in Guest Blogs

Karl R. Rábago is the executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center at the Pace University School of Law in White Plains, New York. This blog was originally posted at the website of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association's Building Energy conference and is republished here with permission. Rábago is a keynote speaker for the opening of the conference in Boston on March 4, 2015.

Can Solar Electricity Trump a Ductless Minisplit?

Posted on March 2, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Ven Sonata's query is simple: If the falling cost of installing 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. (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.) system has killed off the viability of solar hot water systems, as GBA senior editor Martin Holladay believes, does it also represent a threat to the beloved ductless minisplit for heating and cooling?

Unfolding Community Resilience

Posted on March 2, 2015 by Robert Leaver in Guest Blogs

This blog was originally posted by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association as part of this year's BuildingEnergy conference in Boston. Robert Leaver has over 38 years of experience as a convener and facilitator. He will speak at sessions on March 4 and again on March 5.

Ice Dam Basics

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

What do you call the weeks between Valentine’s Day and Easter? It’s ice damA ridge of ice that forms along the lower edge of a roof, possibly leading to roof leaks. Ice dams are usually caused by heat leaking from the attic, which melts snow on the upper parts of the roof; the water then refreezes along the colder eaves working it's way back up the roof and under shingles. season, of course. Eastern Massachusetts is now the wet-ceiling capital of the world, but this winter, tens of thousands of homeowners from North Dakota to Maine are struggling with ice dams.

Grumpy Architect Time

Posted on February 26, 2015 by Robert Swinburne in Guest Blogs

I’m not normally a grumpy architect, but when I am it is usually because of something on this list.

1. If your house is adequately insulated there should be little temperature differential between the ceiling and the floor.

2. “Adequately” differs from code. Remember, a house built to code is the worst house you can legally build.

3. If you choose not to build an Energy-Star-certified home, please give your poor starving architect the $2,000 (the value of the Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. incentive) that you obviously have to spare.

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