The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Plan Ahead For Insulation

Posted on March 18, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

For decades, designers and builders of wood-framed homes didn’t spend much time thinking about insulation. The usual approach — still followed in much of the U.S. — was to fill the stud bays with fiberglass batts, and, once the ceiling drywall was installed, to unroll some fiberglass insulation in the attic.

Because of this decades-long legacy, it’s not unusual for a designer, builder, or homeowner to post the following question on Green Building Advisor: “We just finished framing, installing windows, and roofing. Now we have a few questions about the best way to insulate.”

Blue Heron EcoHaus: Let Construction Begin

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Kent Earle in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: Kent Earle and his wife, Darcie, write a blog called Blue Heron EcoHaus, documenting their journey “from urbanites to ruralites” and the construction of a superinsulated house on the Canadian prairies. Their previous blog on GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com was called Picking High-Performance Windows. The blog below was originally published in May 2015.

New Efficiency Standards for ‘Wall Warts’

Posted on March 16, 2016 by Pierre Delforge in Guest Blogs

A measure took effect earlier in February that will affect virtually everyone in the United States. While it drew little public notice, it will cut your energy bill and reduce harmful pollution.

What was it? Eagerly awaited national energy efficiency standards for the little black boxes on the cords that connect many of our electronics — such as smartphones, computer laptops and electric toothbrushes — to wall outlets. Known as external power supplies, or the less elegant term "wall warts," these power adapters may be small, but they consume a lot of energy.

The Big Rewards of a Deep Energy Retrofit

Posted on March 15, 2016 by Christopher Peck in Guest Blogs

I have long advocated for deep energy retrofits; as we developed the resilient investing system, this became an obvious activity promoting tangible assets close to home. “Remodel your house so that it uses dramatically less energy,” I’d proclaim. “It’ll be more comfortable, and you can save money and the planet at the same time!”

Experts like McKinsey & Company assured me that insulation and heating systems pay off very quickly. After two years of actually tackling it at our house, the practicalities are — surprise! — a bit more complicated.

Do Green Roofs Temper Urban Heat?

Posted on March 14, 2016 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Luke Morton sits on a green building committee that's been asked to advise local officials on a green building code. The code will feature both mandatory and elective features. One of the electives currently on the list is for a "green," or vegetated, roof, but Morton has his doubts whether the case for this type of roof is very compelling.

All About Indoor Air Quality

Posted on March 11, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Many owners of green homes are concerned about indoor air quality. GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com often receives questions from homeowners who worry that some building materials emit dangerous chemicals. For example:

  • Will the glue in my plywood or OSB subfloor emit dangerous fumes?
  • Will borateBoron-containing chemical that provides fire resistance to materials such as cellulose insulation and provides decay and termite resistance to wood products. Borate is derived from the mineral borax and is benign, compared with most other wood treatments.-treated cellulose insulationThermal insulation made from recycled newspaper or other wastepaper; often treated with borates for fire and insect protection. off-gas enough to affect the health of my children?
  • What type of clothes dryer is best from the perspective of indoor air quality?

A Timber-Frame House for a Cold Climate — Part 1

Posted on March 10, 2016 by Rob Myers in Guest Blogs

Rob Myers is building a timber-frame house in Ontario, Canada, at a site on the Bonnechere River an hour and a half west of Ottawa. This is the first installment of a blog series.

The Misleading Numbers Behind the Global Warming Impact of Insulation

Posted on March 9, 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I've been reading a lot of BS lately. No, I'm not talking about blood sugar. It's brain science that's captured my attention: understanding how the human brain works, why we do the things we do, and what common illusions often lead us astray.

What I want to talk to you about today, though, is foam insulation and global warming. But first, we have to talk about calamari.

Seattle’s Pioneering RainWise Program

Posted on March 8, 2016 by Alisa Valderrama in Guest Blogs

The RainWise program, run jointly by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD), empowers homeowners and other private property owners to help stop the region's largest source of water pollution: polluted runoff and specifically the sewer overflows that occur when heavy rains flood the city's combined sewer system.

Why a Vermont Utility Welcomes Solar

Posted on March 7, 2016 by Mary Powell in Guest Blogs

The world of energy is filled with new promise — promise for a cleaner, greener, more cost-effective distributed future. But, alas, in a world where for generations utilities have done the same thing in the same way, change is being hampered by our industry and is moving too slow.

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