The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Reassessing Passive Solar Design Principles

Posted on October 9, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Everybody loves passive solar design. Back in the 1970s, “passive solar” was the essential first step for cold-climate builders. It was considered an approach with obvious advantages over complicated “active solar” schemes that required pumps, fans, and electronic controls.

Weatherization Assistance Program: Getting the Facts Straight

Posted on October 8, 2015 by Deron Lovaas in Guest Blogs

Years of hard work collecting and analyzing an enormous set of facts about energy efficiency paid off as the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Lab rolled out a synthesis of 36 studies of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The synthesis shows that weatherization saved families an average of almost $300 annually in energy costs while reducing carbon pollution by 2.2 million metric tons.

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.

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