The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Solar Hot Water System Maintenance Costs

Posted on May 16, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

I installed my solar hot water system about six years ago. It’s a good system. I have two 4’x8’ AE-32 flat-plate collectors (manufactured by Alternate Energy Technologies), a Superstor Ultra stainless-steel tank (at 80 gallons, it’s a little small, but it’s what I could afford), and an El Sid DC pump from Ivan Labs. Since I installed the equipment myself, it cost significantly less than a professionally installed system.

High-Tech Ceiling Fans for Low-Tech Cooling

Posted on May 15, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Winter has barely ended in Vermont, but as I write this the forecast is for 82 degrees tomorrow. This makes me think about strategies for keeping cool in the months ahead. I’m looking forward to trying out the high-tech ceiling fans we installed in our two upstairs bedrooms. I’ll get to those fans in a minute, but first I’ll explain why I like ceiling fans so much.

How to Buy an Energy-Efficient Ceiling Fan

Posted on May 14, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

A little over a decade ago when I was building a house and buying a bunch of ceiling fans, it wasn't so easy to figure out which fans were energy efficient and which weren't. That's not the case anymore because every ceiling fan now has a label on the package that tells you how much air movement you can expect for each watt of electricity you put into the fan.

A Passivhaus Conference in Germany

Posted on May 13, 2014 by Ken Levenson in Guest Blogs

The 2014 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 Aachen, Germany, on April 25-26. Produced by the Passivhaus Institut (PHI), this annual conference offered a dizzying and inspiring array of information and networking opportunities.

A Green Building Conference in Montreal

Posted on May 9, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Although I live in the middle of nowhere, in the woods of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, my house is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the cosmopolitan city of Montreal, Quebec. A few weeks ago I made the drive north to meet a few green builders from Quebec and to attend a green building conference called Ecohabitation 2014.

Montreal is a fun city where it's easy to buy a decent baguette. The city also offers the chance to sample delicious food prepared by Quebecois born in Lebanon, Tunisia, Mexico, India, and many other countries.

Resilience as a Driver of Change

Posted on May 7, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Readers of this column have heard me argue in the past that resilience can be a motivation for taking actions that will not only make us and our families safer, but also help to mitigate climate change. Let me lay out that basic argument again.

The Great Ventilation Debate, Live at the ACI Conference

Posted on May 6, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Last week at the Affordable Comfort Conference (also known as ACI), I co-moderated a panel called The Great Ventilation Standard Debate.1 Duncan Prahl of Ibacos proposed the session and rounded up a collection of some of best building science folks in North America to be on the panel.

Do I Really Need a Concrete Basement Floor?

Posted on May 5, 2014 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Rob Rosen is diving into a basement remodel, a job that involves digging out and removing a concrete slab to provide more headroom so the basement can be turned into usable living space.

He'll reinforce the footing and foundation as needed, but when it comes time to build a new floor for the basement, Rosen wonders whether he can go with something other than a concrete slab.

WUFI Is Driving Me Crazy

Posted on May 2, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Is it possible to describe all of the factors that influence heat and moisture movement through a wall during a single day? Perhaps. We could start by listing the outdoor conditions, including air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, the angle of the sun with respect to the wall (its altitude and azimuth), the cloud thickness, the precipitation rate, and the depth of snow on the ground. Needless to say, many of these factors change from minute to minute.

Taking Action on Climate Change

Posted on May 1, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In my previous blog I described the international effort to understand climate change. The United Nations’ IPCC is leading the charge, and efforts like the Kyoto Treaty have grown out of that background work. But are we getting closer to solving the problem?

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