The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Urban Rustic: Kneewalls, Subfloor, and Exterior Walls

Posted on August 14, 2017 by Eric Whetzel in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: This post is one of a series by Eric Whetzel about the design and construction of his house in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The first blog in his series was called An Introduction to a New Passive House Project; a list of Eric's previous posts appears below. For more details, see Eric's blog, Kimchi & Kraut.

Stair Design Basics

Posted on August 11, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Stair design requires attention to all of the usual rules of residential design. Stairs should be graceful, useful, and comfortable. In addition, stairs must also be safe. Clearly, safety is more important for stair design than for most design issues (for example, ceiling height or window orientation).

Once you understand the basic principles of stair design, you’ll probably notice that lots of stairs lack a graspable handrail, or have inconsistent riser heights, or are dimly lit. Examples of flawed stairs are unfortunately common.

Fusing Green and Universal Design

Posted on August 10, 2017 by Rosemarie Rossetti in Guest Blogs

On June 13, 1998, my husband, Mark Leder, and I went for a bicycle ride on a rural wooded trail in Granville, Ohio. After riding for a few minutes, Mark thought he heard a gunshot and slowed down to investigate. As he scanned the scene he saw a large tree falling. He shouted, “Stop!” But the warning was too late. I was crushed by a 7,000-pound tree and paralyzed from the waist down.

Raised-Heel Trusses Make Better Enclosures

Posted on August 9, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

A comfortable, energy-efficient home begins with a good building enclosure. That means control layers. You've got to control the flows of moisture, air, and heat.

The Airport House: Measuring Results

Posted on August 8, 2017 by Reid Baldwin in Guest Blogs

Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of guest blogs by Reid Baldwin about the construction of his house in Linden, Michigan. For a list of previous blog posts on GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com by Reid Baldwin, see the “Related Articles” sidebar below. You can read his entire blog here.

There’s Rot in the Roof

Posted on August 7, 2017 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Chuck Kramer's home in Enumclaw, Washington, was built in the 1980s with unvented cathedral ceilings, insulated with cut-and-cobble rigid foam insulation and roofed with cedar shakes. A small section of the roof is showing signs of water damage, and now Kramer is trying to find a way of repairing the problem area without tearing into the rest of the roof.

Ten Common Mistakes Made By New Home Builders

Posted on August 4, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Designers and builders who do their homework before construction begins have few problems. Unfortunately, some projects happen backwards: the design and construction are well under way before the homework begins. That type of project can be problematic.

At GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com, we see examples of the latter group all the time. Designers, builders, or homeowners who are in the middle of a construction project will post basic questions on our Q&A page. “I’m looking at the rafters and trying to decide how we should insulate the roof,” they write, or “We’re trying to figure out the best place to put the HRV(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air. .”

How New Technologies Are Shrinking Wastewater’s Hefty Carbon Footprint

Posted on August 3, 2017 by Erica Gies in Guest Blogs

Wastewater treatment plants are energy hogs. A 2013 study by the Electric Power Research Institute and Water Research Foundation reported that they consumed about 30 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or about 0.8 percent of the total electricity used in the United States.

The Next Step in Sustainable Design

Posted on August 2, 2017 by Kevin Nute in Guest Blogs

A building’s primary purpose may be to keep the weather out, but most do such an effective job of this that they also inadvertently deprive us of contact with two key requirements for our well-being and effectiveness: nature and change.

Wolfe Island Passive: A Performance Report

Posted on August 1, 2017 by David Murakami Wood in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: David and Kayo Murakami Wood are building what they hope will be Ontario's first certified 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. on Wolfe Island, the largest of the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River. They are documenting their work at their blog, Wolfe Island Passive House. For a list of earlier posts in this series, see the sidebar below.

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