The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Been Having Those Hot Water Blues

Posted on February 4, 2014 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

As part of my renovation project, I needed to move the water heater out of its location in a below-grade recess in my crawl space that I was filling in to eliminate the need for a sump pump to get rid of water that collected. When considering the best type of new water heater, I considered both heat-pump water heaters and tankless heaters.

Ban the Can

Posted on February 3, 2014 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

One hates to overstate how problematic recessed lights can be, but… they sure are a pain in the energy-auditor butt. There are worse problems (wet basements), more expensive ones (insulating a complicated roof line), and more frustrating ones (the cross-purposes of energy evaluations and homeowner desires). But few elements of the house combine all three in as tidy a package as recessed light cans.

Two New Exterior Insulation Products for Walls

Posted on January 31, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Exterior wall insulation? That usually means rigid foam and furring strips — although occasionally, it means mineral wool insulation and furring strips.

But there are other options. Two new products offer builders new ways to keep their wall sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. warm.

Report on Our Ductless Minisplit Heat Pump

Posted on January 30, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

It’s been pretty chilly outside, if you haven’t noticed. A number of people have asked me how our air-source heat pumpHeat pump that relies on outside air as the heat source and heat sink; not as effective in cold climates as ground-source heat pumps. is making out in the cold weather. I wrote about the system last fall, well before we had moved in. Is it keeping us warm? We’ve only been living in the house for a few weeks, but here’s a quick report.

Should Occupants Have Control of Their Home Ventilation System?

Posted on January 29, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

One of the points of contention in the great ventilation debate is whether a home's occupants should control their own ventilation systems.

District Heating

Posted on January 28, 2014 by Vera Novak in Green Building Blog

During my recent travels in Europe, I was surprised at the wide variety of approaches to heating methods and distribution. For example, in the U.K. we visited the Southampton City district heating scheme, a project that uses geothermal and CHP (combined heat and power). The centrally generated heat is supplied to surrounding buildings through underground pipes. It serves 45 businesses, and the businesses save 10% on energy costs plus all of the costs of owning and maintaining heating equipment.

Singing the Ice Dam Blues

Posted on January 27, 2014 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Winter is the season of icicles and ice dams, at least on houses whose roofs are poorly insulated and air-sealed.

Or, in the case of a nature center in Wisconsin, not insulated at all. Walt Ott is inquiring about the best way to fix a building with a completely uninsulated cathedral ceiling.

All About Furnaces and Duct Systems

Posted on January 24, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Many different appliances can be used to heat a house, including boilers, water heaters, heat pumps, and wood stoves. However, most homes in the U.S. are heated by a forced-air furnace.

These devices are connected to ducts that deliver heated air to registers throughout the house. Different types of furnaces are manufactured to burn a variety of fuels, including natural gas, propane, oil, and firewood. The most common furnace fuel in the U.S. is natural gas.

On the Benefits of Online Learning

Posted on January 23, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Truth be told, I was slow warming up to online instruction. Ten years ago, in early 2004, BuildingGreen was approached by Boston Architectural College (then Boston Architectural Center — but with the same acronym, BAC) about collaborating on sustainable design curriculum. There is so much value in face-to-face instruction and student interaction, I thought, how could online instruction take its place?

Will a Gas Furnace Dry Out a Home’s Air?

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I get asked from time to time if a gas furnace dries out the air in a home and makes a humidifier necessary.

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