The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Comparing Carpentry Tools to Surgical Tools

Posted on February 17, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Two hundred years ago, a ship's carpenter had many duties. In addition to repairing the ship, a carpenter would be called on to perform emergency amputations. Why? He was the one who had the saws.

Modern surgeons still require saws, as well as drills, chisels, scrapers, and grinders. As a lighthearted exercise that has almost nothing to do with green building, I recently got the idea to compare surgical tools with carpentry tools.

Full disclosure: This blog is for fun. It is completely empty of any building science.

Paving the Way for an Efficient Light Bulb in Every Socket

Posted on February 16, 2017 by Noah Horowitz in Guest Blogs

The U.S. Department of Energy has just updated and expanded its definition of what constitutes an everyday light bulb in our homes and businesses, paving the way for the Trump administration to implement the second phase of a bipartisan law signed by President George W. Bush to cut the energy waste of bulbs. Energy efficiency standards were sorely needed because the incandescent light bulb had not been significantly updated since the days of Thomas Edison, more than 125 years earlier.

Buried Ducts Allowed in 2018 Energy Code

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

Water vapor from the air condenses on air conditioning ducts in humid climates. It's as normal as poorly insulated bonus rooms making occupants uncomfortable or cigarettes causing lung cancer. Condensation on ducts is most common in crawl spaces and basements, where the air is more likely to have a higher dew point.

The State of Our Union

Posted on February 14, 2017 by Elizabeth DiSalvo in Guest Blogs

I started to write this as a commentary regarding Martin Holladay’s review of Jacob Rascusin’s new book, Essential Building Science. But in doing so I realized that the direction of Martin’s critique opens the door to issues that I think our community really needs to discuss. So, I worked a little harder at putting my thoughts into some sort of logical and comprehensive order. Of course these are only my opinion.

The bottom line of this realization is that, as a group, we may want to consider two goals:

When There Are Too Many Insulation Options

Posted on February 13, 2017 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Colleen A, planning a new house in Michigan's Climate Zone 5, has discovered there's a downside to the wealth of insulation products on the market: It's hard to make a decision.

GBA Prime Sneak Peek: Fine Homebuilding Editors Interview Martin Holladay

Posted on February 10, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

My fellow editors at Fine Homebuilding — Justin Fink, Rob Yagid, and Brian Pontolilo — have been hosting a weekly podcast for several months. They recently invited me to join them in a sound studio at the Fine Homebuilding office to record a conversation on a variety of building science topics.

This week, I'm taking a break from my usual blog-writing schedule, substituting a two-part podcast recording. Click on one of the green triangles to start listening.

Airport House: Energy Efficiency and Garage Space for an Airplane

Posted on February 9, 2017 by Reid Baldwin in Guest Blogs

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of guest blogs by Reid Baldwin about the construction of his house in Linden, Michigan.

Should Balanced Ventilation Be Required?

Posted on February 8, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

"You know where this is going, right? Codes will eventually require balanced ventilationMechanical ventilation system in which separate, balanced fans exhaust stale indoor air and bring in fresh outdoor air in equal amounts; often includes heat recovery or heat and moisture recovery (see heat-recovery ventilator and energy-recovery ventilator). ." I've heard people say this more than once in the past year or so. As someone who has been attending the semiannual meeting of the ASHRAE 62.2A standard for residential mechanical ventilation systems established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Among other requirements, the standard requires a home to have a mechanical ventilation system capable of ventilating at a rate of 1 cfm for every 100 square feet of occupiable space plus 7.5 cfm per occupant. committee, I've been skeptical. Then I read the new Aspen energy code and saw the first evidence that this really could happen.

How Renewable Energy Advocates Are Hurting the Climate Cause

Posted on February 7, 2017 by Paul McDivitt in Guest Blogs

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, the proliferation of misinformation on social media is finally getting the attention it deserves. Or so I thought.

Toronto Passive: Walls, Roof, and an Elevator

Posted on February 6, 2017 by Lyndon Than in Guest Blogs

Editor's Note: Lyndon Than is a professional engineer and 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. Consultant who took a year off from work to design and build a home with his wife Phi in North York, a district of Toronto, Ontario. A list of Lyndon's previous blogs at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com appears below. For more, you can follow his blog, Passive House Toronto.

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