The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

A New Roof Over the Old One

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Peter Bennett in Green Building Blog

My rustic 1930s post-and-beam home in Vermont had a definite roof problem: It was poorly insulated and susceptible to ice dams. But when I started working on a design for upgrading the insulation, I wasn’t willing to lose the look of the cathedral ceiling and the exposed-pole rafters by insulating on the inside. Because I needed to replace the 30-year-old cedar shakes anyway, it appeared an opportune time to fix the problem from the outside.

Books for Homeowners Interested in Saving Energy

Posted on May 8, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Two books that do a good job of explaining residential energy use issues to homeowners are Consumer Guide To Home Energy Savings and No-Regrets Remodeling. Both books have been around for years. Recently the publishers of these two books issued new editions, so I decided to give them a careful read.

Consumer Guide To Home Energy Savings

The Warm West, Cold East Divide

Posted on May 7, 2015 by Andrea Thompson in Guest Blogs

From blooming flowers to twittering birds, the signs of spring are popping up and the miseries of winter are becoming a distant memory for many.

But not for some climate scientists.

The curiosity of a growing group of researchers has been piqued by the tenacious temperature divide that has separated East from West over the past two winters as a wild zigzag of the jet stream has brought repeated bouts of Arctic air and snow to the East and kept the drought-plagued West baking under a record-breaking dome of heat.

Downtown Design

Posted on May 7, 2015 by James Tuer in Green Building Blog

Living in the city doesn’t have to require a compromise in the quality of living, as some rural and suburban dwellers assume. You don’t have to forfeit a sense of privacy, give up a love of nature, or be forced to drive far outside city limits to find true refuge. When designed well, a home in a dense city neighborhood can provide quiet and personal space while keeping its owners thoroughly connected to the pulse of the urban landscape.

The Physics of Water in Porous Materials

Posted on May 6, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I like to tell people I'm a recovering academic. The truth is, though, that I haven't left physics behind. That would be impossible since I've been making a career in the world of building science. So today I'm going to delve into that subset of building science called building physics as we take a look at the physics of water in porous materials. You'll also learn about the fourth state of water, the one that's not liquid, not solid, and not vapor.

Steve Mouzon on the New Business of Business

Posted on May 5, 2015 by Fernando Pages Ruiz in Guest Blogs

The green-building movement proved resilient during the Great Recession and beyond. While conventional builders went bankrupt, many green builders thrived. This trend continues, so when I heard that green-building guru Steve Mouzon, author of The Original Green, was holding a seminar on new approaches to building up green business, I wanted to know more.

I spoke with Steve while he was on the road in Birmingham, Alabama, and I asked him, "What's different about the new green business plan from the traditional builder's approach?"

The 2015 Passive House Conference in Germany

Posted on May 4, 2015 by Ken Levenson in Guest Blogs

The 19th Annual International 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 was held in Leipzig, Germany, on April 17-18, 2015. With large contingents attending from North America and China, as well as an emerging group of practitioners stretching across the Mediterranean from Turkey to Portugal, the global effort of Passive House was palpable.

Compared to previous years, project types continue to expand, from factories, to office complexes to day-care centers. So do the details: optimizing thermal bridges, earthquake load requirements, incorporating wood-fired furnaces, and onsite renewables.

New Life for Old Double-Hung Windows

Posted on May 4, 2015 by John Michael Davis in Green Building Blog

A client recently complained to me about how badly the old windows rattled in his historic home. He wanted to stop the noise as well as the air infiltration, but he didn’t want me to replace the windows. Like me, my client understands the important role that original windows play in preserving an older home’s historical integrity.

Using a Tankless Water Heater for Space Heat

Posted on May 1, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

You can buy a gas-fired tankless water heater for $600 — or even $300, if you want a bare-bones model. These appliances are remarkable: they are compact enough to hang on a wall and can begin producing an “endless” flow of hot water almost instantly. Many people look at these small appliances and think, “Why can’t I use one to heat my house?”

The answer is, you can. However, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

The Smart Meter: Friend or Foe?

Posted on April 30, 2015 by Emma Bailey in Guest Blogs

Love them or hate them, smart meters are becoming increasingly common around the globe.

Advocates believe that the meters generate better data for both energy consumers and service providers. These meters can provide homeowners with feedback on their energy consumption, which helps them change their habits in order to reduce monthly utility bills. Critics, however, have voiced concern over health and safety issues, asserting that smart meters present fire hazards, emit dangerous levels of radiation, and violate privacy.

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