The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Enterprise Green Communities and Passive House

Posted on October 7, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

The best green building program you've never heard of is probably Enterprise Green Communities. Everyone knows about 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. , of course. Regional programs, such as EarthCraft House and Minnesota GreenStar, also have name recognition in their areas. But unless you've been involved with Enterprise Green Communities, you may not have even heard of it. The recent release of their new program criteria means that it's time for that lack of name recognition to change.

Sensible Plumbing

Posted on October 6, 2015 by Dave Yates in Green Building Blog

“We have very low pressure at the master-bathroom shower, and if any other plumbing is used, we literally have no water coming out of the showerhead.” The frustration in my new customer’s voice was palpable, and during the drive to his country estate, thoughts about the root causes of his home’s water-pressure woes ran through my head. I pulled into the driveway of what had to be a multimillion-dollar home. How could a house that looked this great be suffering so much internally?

High-Performance Walls, Part 2

Posted on October 6, 2015 by Zack Semke in Guest Blogs

This is the second of four posts delving into the anatomy of high-performance wall assemblies. The last post featured the walls at Karuna House. This week’s explains our approach at Pumpkin Ridge Passive House. All four analyses are part of our building science exhibit, “Evolution of Enclosure,” that recently completed a five-week showing at AIA Portland’s Center for Architecture.

How I Moved From Residential Construction into the Commercial Market

Posted on October 5, 2015 by Michael Bruss in Guest Blogs

I started my foray into the construction business in the early 1980s. After a stint as a sculptor’s apprentice and assistant, I opted for what I hoped would be a more stable life for my young family.

I had been raised in construction. My father, grandfather, and uncles were all in construction. I picked up a hammer at an early age and was, with my father’s patience and guiding hand, fairly skilled in carpentry by the end of my high school years.

Naming Building Parts is Tricky

Posted on October 2, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

This blog is directed to homeowners. If you are a builder or an architect, you should probably click on a different article.

Homeowners who send questions to GBA sometimes don't know what to call the parts of their building. (If it's a diffuserIn a forced-air heating/cooling system, the diffuser is a register or grille attached to ducting through which heated or air conditioned air is delivered to the living space. In a tubular skylight or an electric light fixture, the diffuser is a cover plate through which scattered light is delivered., grille, register, or duct termination, there's a fair chance that someone will decide to just call it a "vent.") I've rounded up some of the most confusing terms used by builders and architects and clarified their definitions.

Since a drawing can be a handy way to clarify a definition, I made some quick sketches to illustrate my points.

Court Blows Away Permits for Wind Turbine Eagle Kills

Posted on October 1, 2015 by Stuart Kaplow in Guest Blogs

On August 11, a federal court set aside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule allowing 30-year permits to “take” bald and golden eagles. In an industry born from tax credits and government energy policies, an interruption of one of those key policies can bring wind turbine construction to a halt.

The Department of Energy Chooses a Definition for Net Zero

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

A few weeks ago, I wrote about whether homes that produce as much energy as they use should be called net zero energy or zero net energy homes. Several readers offered up another choice: zero energy homes.

Managing Job-Site Mud

Posted on September 30, 2015 by Fernando Pages Ruiz in Green Building Blog

Drive past an average construction site (even a small residential addition) after a summer rain, and the street is usually coated with mud. Gooey, sticky, dirty stuff, the mud that runs off job sites and flows into storm sewers wreaks havoc on the quality of streams, rivers, and other waterways. But beyond the dire environmental consequences of job-site runoff, it’s also rude to mire your neighbors in mud. Plus, there’s the matter of steep fines.

Creating High-Performance Walls

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Zack Semke in Guest Blogs

Our Evolution of Enclosure exhibit at AIA Portland (which ran through September 10) examined the role that buildings — especially building enclosures — can play in helping to diffuse climate change. As examples, the exhibit drew on four projects built by Hammer & Hand: Karuna House designed by Holst Architecture; Pumpkin Ridge 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. and Glasswood Commercial Retrofit, both designed by Scott | Edwards Architecture; and Madrona Passsive House, designed by SHED Architecture & Design.

Battling Condensation on Attic Ducts

Posted on September 28, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Jimmy Miller is trying to solve a condensation mystery in a Florida ranch-style home that is being renovated. Even though the air conditioning equipment appears to be operating normally, humidity inside the house is between 60% and 65%, and return ducts located in the attic show significant condensation.

Register for a free account and join the conversation

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