The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

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.

Making Room for a PV Array

Posted on November 27, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Compared to a photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. system, a solar hot water system yields very little energy per dollar invested. I presented that argument in a 2012 article called “Solar Thermal Is Dead.” Two years later, in 2014, an economic comparison between these two solar technologies showed a stronger tilt than ever before in favor of PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow., leading me to write a follow-up article called “Solar Thermal Is Really, Really Dead.”

Bottom Lines Reaches the Summit

Posted on November 26, 2015 by john abrams in Guest Blogs

NESEA’s first BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines Business Summit is over. It will not be the last.

On a beautiful fall day in November, more than 110 members of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) gathered at Smith College to celebrate two years of BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines, to hone business skills, and to consider the future of this exciting endeavor.

Will the Supreme Court Kill the Smart Grid?

Posted on November 25, 2015 by Seth Blumsack in Guest Blogs

On April 30, Tesla’s Elon Musk took the stage in California to introduce the company’s Powerwall battery energy storage system, which he hopes will revolutionize the dormant market for household and utility-scale batteries.

A few days later, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear a case during its fall term that could very well determine whether Tesla’s technology gamble succeeds or fails. Justices were to hear arguments on October 14 to address questions having to do with federal jurisdiction over the fast-changing electricity business.

An Interview With a Solar Guru

Posted on November 24, 2015 by Sonja Van Renssen in Guest Blogs

With his invention of the SolarLease for SolarCity, he revolutionized the US residential solar market. Now, David Arfin, CEO of First Energy Finance, wants to take his business model to other parts of the world, including Europe, and apply it to other technologies, like wind, energy efficiency and geothermal heat pumps. In an exclusive interview with Energy Post, he explains his approach and what future financial innovations he sees coming.

Radon Mitigation in a Leaky House

Posted on November 23, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

RadonColorless, odorless, short-lived radioactive gas that can seep into homes and result in lung cancer risk. Radon and its decay products emit cancer-causing alpha, beta, and gamma particles. mitigation in new construction is now routine when testing finds that concentrations of this odorless, cancer-causing gas exceed government-recommended levels. Writing from southeastern Wisconsin, Andrew S. has a slightly different problem: How to control radon levels when you live in a leaky log home built in the 19th century.

Wall Sheathing Options

Posted on November 20, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

For the past 30 years, the majority of new homes in the U.S. have been built with wood-framed walls sheathed with oriented strand board (OSB). Most builders are so comfortable with OSB 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. that they never consider using an alternative material.

In fact, a wide range of materials can be used to sheathe a wood-framed wall. In addition to OSB, builders can choose plywood, fiberboard, rigid foam, diagonal boards, and fiberglass-faced gypsum panels. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool OSB user, it might be time to consider some of the available alternatives to OSB.

One Man’s Quest for Energy Independence — Part 1

Posted on November 19, 2015 by Paul Kuenn in Guest Blogs

In 1987, my wife and I purchased a one-story, 1,200-square-foot ranch with a basement in Appleton, Wisconsin. It had been built in 1960. Its 2x4 walls were filled with 3 inches of fiberglass batting; the house had single-pane windows. The basement slab had been poured directly onto clay without a gravel drainage base. There was sectional tile drain around the exterior perimeter and one sump. The house had a large patio door facing west and a bay window facing east, and only two windows on the south side.

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