The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Insulating a Cape Cod House

Posted on December 11, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you own an older Cape Cod home, you have my sympathy. If you’re the type of homeowner who regularly tackles DIY projects, you’ve probably spent weeks chasing air leaks with a foam gun, lying on your back in a cramped attic. And there's a good chance that, in spite of your efforts, your house still suffers from ice dams.

I’m sorry for your troubles. You deserve better.

If you are thinking of building a new Cape, it’s not too late to get the details right — as long as you’re still at the planning stage.

Siding and Interior Finish Work in New Hampshire

Posted on December 10, 2015 by Brian Post in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of blogs chronicling the design and construction of a house owned by Brian Post and Kyra Salancy. The first blog in the series was titled Building a Small House in the White Mountains.

The winter of 2013-2014 started without much snow, but progressed into an extended period of cold and snow from February through March. Normally, we’d take advantage of this on skis, but the house project was occupying most of our attention.

Toilet Talk: Meeting One of the World’s Grand Challenges

Posted on December 9, 2015 by Karl Linden in Guest Blogs

How is it possible that 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities in 2015?

While many westerners use their bathroom time as “me time,“ 40% of the world’s population may be pooping outdoors, in an unsanitary latrine, or in a plastic bag and launching flying toilets to dispose of their waste.

Heating a Superinsulated House in a Cold Climate

Posted on December 8, 2015 by Kent Earle in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: Kent Earle and his wife, Darcie, write a blog called Blue Heron EcoHaus, which documents their journey “from urbanites to ruralites” and the construction of a superinsulated house on the Canadian prairies. first posted a blog about their decision not to seek Passivhaus certification in May 2015.

What To Do With All That Recessed Lighting?

Posted on December 7, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Justin Brown has moved into a house with lots of recessed lighting fixtures, including 10 six-inch Prescolite non-airtight fixtures on the second floor ceiling, and another 11 mounted in cathedral ceilings. He may have plenty of light in those rooms, but he's more concerned about all the air that's leaking into the attic and rafter bays and the heat loss that goes along with it.

Flashing Brick Veneer

Posted on December 4, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Residential construction practices in the U.S. have a certain Wild West flavor. Quality standards vary widely from one area of the country to another. For example, while builders in some regions pay meticulous attention when lapping a water-resistant barrier (WRB) or installing wall flashing, builders in other regions ignore best practice recommendations and code requirements.

One Man’s Quest for Energy Independence — Part 2

Posted on December 3, 2015 by Paul Kuenn in Guest Blogs

This is the second in a series of blogs by Paul Kuenn describing energy-efficiency improvements to his home in Appleton, Wisconsin. The first appeared here as One Man's Quest for Energy Independence — Part 1.

Preventing Accidental Dehumidification

Posted on December 2, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

"Oops! The house just had an accident. Whose turn is it to clean it up?"

Yep. We're entering the season of accidental dehumidification. If you've got windows that start collecting water, like the one shown here, you're a victim of accidental dehumidification. It's not something you want in a building.

If a Solar Plant Uses Natural Gas, Is It Still Green?

Posted on December 1, 2015 by Daniel Cohan in Guest Blogs

The giant Ivanpah solar power plant in the California Mojave Desert recently detailed how much natural gas it burned to generate power when the sun wasn’t sufficient: the equivalent to 46,000 tons of CO2 emissions in its first year, according to reports.

Along with its impacts on wildlife and its receipt of federal incentives, news of the CO2 emissions has renewed criticism of the 377-megawatt facility, which supplies 140,000 California homes during peak hours of the day.

Why is a solar power plant using natural gas, and does the associated CO2 disqualify it as “green”?

Passive House: PHIUS or PHI?

Posted on November 30, 2015 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

It happens sometimes. Great people that you admire, respect — even love — just can’t work out their differences with each other. Things may get rough or uncertain at times, but if they truly have everyone’s best interest at heart, they find a way to forge ahead, sometimes on their own path, but ever careful to protect what they’ve built together. I’m talking about divorce… sort of.

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