The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

What Fruit Flies Taught Me About Sustainable Living

Posted on June 3, 2014 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Last summer my house developed a fruit fly infestation, due to the fact that I had a lot of fresh fruit sitting around ripening on my counters. I recall once using aerosol bombs to get rid of them, but I figured this time around I would look for a slightly less toxic solution.

A quick web search turned up details for a standard fruit fly trap, consisting of a jar with a little cider vinegar and dish soap, covered with clear plastic with a few holes in it. The flies are attracted to the vinegar, fly in, get coated with dish soap, and drown in the cider.

The Best Way to Insulate a Floor

Posted on June 2, 2014 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Jim Wright's house in western Arkansas has a post-and-pier foundation that elevates floor framing about 40 inches off the ground. Unlike a house with a basement, crawl space, or slab foundation, there is no enclosure at the bottom of the house, so the floor is more or less like another exterior wall.

How, Wright wonders, should this be insulated?

New Green Building Products — May 2014

Posted on May 30, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

It’s time once again to take a look at a few interesting new building products. I recently spotted two potentially useful ventilation products — a new type of ERV(ERV). The part of a balanced ventilation system that captures water vapor and heat from one airstream to condition another. In cold climates, water vapor captured from the outgoing airstream by ERVs can humidify incoming air. In hot-humid climates, ERVs can help maintain (but not reduce) the interior relative humidity as outside air is conditioned by the ERV. and a fan for ventilating small rooms — and two products that are destined for attics — an insulating “hat” for recessed cans and a ventilation baffle that can be installed between rafters. I will also report on JointSealR, a tape distributed by Owens Corning for taping XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation. seams.

Yes, the Living Building Challenge is Overreaching

Posted on May 29, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I’m just back from Portland, Oregon where I attended the annual Living Future Conference.

The Living Future Conference was created by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) initially to provide a networking and learning venue for designers and builders involved in creating buildings that are being certified through the Living Building Challenge.

This Heat Pump Problem Is a Surprisingly Common Cause for High Electricity Bills

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

She lives in a small, simple house in southern Mississippi. It's only 1,700 square feet. Why then, she wondered, were her summer electricity bills running more than $600?

The house didn't have any energy-hog features like a swimming pool, and she didn't do stupid things like leave all the doors and windows open while she ran the air conditioner. What could it be?

German Building Codes Keep Ratcheting Up

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Andrew Dey in Guest Blogs

In October of 2013, the German government approved amendments to its Energie Einsparung Verordnung (EnEV), the federal ordinance that mandates energy efficiency for buildings. The revised EnEV reflects the government’s latest energy policy decisions, and it brings the ordinance into alignment with the most recent European Union Directive regarding building energy performance.

Another Report on the Great Ventilation Rate Debate

Posted on May 26, 2014 by Nate Adams in Guest Blogs

Here is my rundown of the recent Affordable Comfort (ACI) conference in Detroit.

It was great to catch up with — or at least brush by — longtime industry friends, in the case of Allison Bailes of Energy Vanguard and Andy Frank of Sealed. It’s really cool that the industry is small enough you can become friends with even the big names.

Earthship Hype and Earthship Reality

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

If you are a hippie from Taos, New Mexico, you know what an earthship is. It’s an off-grid earth-bermed passive solar home with exterior walls made of old tires packed with dirt.

Can We Power Our Car With the Sun?

Posted on May 22, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I’ve written about a lot of the features we included in our new house in Dummerston, Vermont, to reduce its energy use and environmental footprint, but there’s another one — a big one — that doesn’t really relate to the house.

California Study Shows Big Savings in Home Energy Retrofits

Posted on May 21, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

At the Forum on Dry Climate Home Performance earlier this year, I got to hear three building science experts talk about a really cool research project they've been working on in Stockton, California. Bruce Wilcox, John Proctor, and Rick Chitwood (Wilcox and Proctor are shown in photo at right) filled us in on the Stockton project, which now has two years of data and shows some really impressive results.

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