The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Rethinking Recessed Lighting

Posted on October 2, 2014 by Debra Silber in Green Building Blog

Recessed can lights have gained a reputation as the go-to fixture for inexpensive downlighting. But they have their drawbacks. When placed in an upper ceiling and not sealed and insulated, they can bleed energy. When improperly insulated, they can present a fire hazard.

The Difference Between Efficiency and Efficacy

Posted on October 1, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

When I was doing research for an article on ceiling fans a while back, I noticed that fans don't have energy efficiency ratings; they have efficacy ratings.

There's certainly confusion about the terminology among different sources, but since light bulbs are also described by their efficacy, I started wondering about the term. I'd just accepted it before, with a vague understanding that there was something different about how efficacy was defined. Now I know why.

Think Home Buyers Won’t Pay Extra for Energy Efficiency?

Posted on September 30, 2014 by Nick Sisler in Guest Blogs

According to a national survey of 116 single-family home builders, developers, and remodelers performed by McGraw Hill in 2013, 73% of those surveyed said that home buyers will pay more for a green home. This is up from 61% in 2011.

Don’t Be an Air Hole! — Part 1

Posted on September 29, 2014 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

It's back to the basics with this one, folks.

Back in 2013, we were asked to do a presentation at 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 for the “Fundementals” track — something similar to our “Sprout Follies” podcast. We put together a PowerPoint presentation, and did our best to deal with the fact that our cocktails would be coffee.

It was well received, so we thought it would be a good idea to share a condensed version of that presentation as a podcast here at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com.

Report from the Passive House Conference in Maine

Posted on September 26, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

The North American 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. Network held a two-day conference in Portland, Maine, this month. The well-attended conference drew attendees from all over the U.S., as well as from China, the U.K., and Germany.

How an Efficiency Program Killed My Business

Posted on September 25, 2014 by Nate Adams in Guest Blogs

Note to Homeowners: This article is primarily aimed at the Home Performance industry. I strive for radical transparency, so I put this in the public sphere for you to read as well.

Highlights from the North American Passive House Conference

Posted on September 24, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

The 9th annual North American 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. Conference happened two weeks ago in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. The Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) has been holding this conference every year since 2006, and it just keeps getting better.

Framing Begins at the Potwine Passivhaus

Posted on September 23, 2014 by Alexi Arango in Green Building Blog

As they set out to build a single-family 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. on Potwine Lane in Amherst, Massachusetts, Alexi Arango and LeeAnn Kim asked themselves, “Is it possible to live without burning fossil fuels?” One measure of success would be meeting their goal of 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. performance. This is the fourth blog in a planned series.

March 15, 2014: First floor framing

Don, the carpenter, was able to get a bunch of work done early in the week before the weather turned cold and stormy. He’s basically got most of the first floor framing done.

Brick Buildings Need Roof Overhangs

Posted on September 23, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

I'm in Portland, Maine, for the North American 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. Network conference. Yesterday morning I walked a few blocks from my hotel to the conference site, through downtown Portland.

The old commercial district here has lots of handsome old three-story and four-story brick buildings. I love to look at the details on these older buildings. At first glance, it may appear that architectural ornament has been randomly applied to these façades; but if one pays attention, it soon becomes clear that most of these façade elements have a function.

What’s the Best Way to Insulate Crawl Space Walls?

Posted on September 22, 2014 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Andy Chappell-Dick is at work on a house in Climate Zone 5 where the task at hand is to upgrade a crawl space by adding insulation as well as a membrane to block the infiltration of moisture. The catch? The owners want to avoid the use of rigid foam insulation if at all possible.

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