The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

A Web-Based Information Resource From the DOE

Posted on September 9, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

The Building America program, a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy, funds research on ways to improve the energy performance of new and existing homes and provides advice to new home builders and home-performance contractors. In recent decades, Building America has provided millions of dollars of research grants to energy consulting companies, including the Building Science Corporation, Consol, Florida Solar Energy Center, IBACOS, 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. Institute U.S., and Steven Winter Associates.

Off-Grid in Canada: Choosing Efficient Appliances

Posted on September 8, 2016 by Craig Anderson in Guest Blogs

This is one of a series of posts by Craig Anderson describing the off-the-grid house he built with his wife France-Pascale Ménard near Low, Québec. Craig writes about the "Seven Hills Project" in a blog called Sunshine Saved. For a list of Craig's previous posts, see the list of "Blogs by Craig Anderson" in the sidebar below.

Manual J Load Calculations vs. Rules of Thumb

Posted on September 7, 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

We do a lot of heating and air conditioning system design at Energy Vanguard. Alexander Bell, who goes by Andy, is our design wizard, and I've been getting involved with the process again lately.

Will a Merged Tesla-SolarCity Put a Solar-Powered Battery in Every Home?

Posted on September 6, 2016 by Anonymous in Guest Blogs

By W. ROCKY NEWMAN

One year ago Tesla Motors announced plans to build its Gigafactory to produce huge numbers of batteries, giving life to the old saying, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”

By making electric car batteries that Tesla used to buy from others, CEO Elon Musk adopted a strategy made famous by Henry Ford – build a vertically integrated company that controls the many stages of production. By integrating “backward” into its supply chain, Musk is betting Tesla can improve the performance and lower the costs of batteries for its vehicles.

Movin’ On Up

Posted on September 5, 2016 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

Carl Seville and his wife are building themselves a new home in Decatur, Georgia. The first blog in this series was titled The Third Time’s the Charm. Links to all of the blogs in this series can be found in the “Related Articles” sidebar below.

Being a Carpenter Isn’t Simple Anymore

Posted on September 2, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

After working for years as a carpenter, Bart Laemmel, a resident of Crested Butte, Colorado, decided to upgrade his skills. “I have a thirst for knowledge,” he said. Speaking at a presentation at the recent Westford Symposium on Building Science, Laemmel deployed his self-deprecating humor. “I am a HERSIndex or scoring system for energy efficiency established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) that compares a given home to a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Reference Home based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. A home matching the reference home has a HERS Index of 100. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is. A typical existing home has a HERS Index of 130; a net zero energy home has a HERS Index of 0. Older versions of the HERS index were based on a scale that was largely just the opposite in structure--a HERS rating of 100 represented a net zero energy home, while the reference home had a score of 80. There are issues that complicate converting old to new or new to old scores, but the basic formula is: New HERS index = (100 - Old HERS score) * 5. rater,” he said. “It was an intense training — seven days straight. I figured I knew everything. And I am a LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. professional. I know how to check stuff off.”

Solar Contagion and Lessons for Other Energy Upgrades

Posted on September 1, 2016 by Jacob Corvidae in Guest Blogs

Solar is spreading like a reinvented fire. See the dropping prices, technology improvements, and rapid growth curve in residential 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. (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.) installations over recent years. Witness the rapid expansion of our work with major companies across the world to purchase solar. Observe the growing and unwavering appeal of solar in, for example, the recent decision by MGM in Nevada to pay a fine rather than miss the opportunity to power up with solar. The fire spreads — and reaches a point where solar has become contagious.

Blue Heron EcoHaus: Adding it All Up, Part 2

Posted on August 31, 2016 by Kent Earle in Guest Blogs

In mid-November 2015, just before we moved into our new house, we were asked to be part of the 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. Days tour (a worldwide weekend of awareness of Passive House and energy-efficient building). Well, not “officially” — we were asked to be a part of the tour by the event organizer in Saskatchewan, who was the Passive House (PH) consultant on what should become the first certified PH in Saskatchewan. Even though we did not build a PH, we did follow the standards as closely as I could justify. From the beginning we were not pursuing certification.

Rust Belt Cities Go Green to Aid Urban Revival

Posted on August 30, 2016 by Anonymous in Guest Blogs

By WINIFRED BIRD

Depending on how you look at it, Gary, Indiana is facing either the greatest crisis in its 110-year history, or the greatest opportunity. The once-prosperous center of steel production has lost more than half its residents in the past 50 years. Just blocks from city hall, streets are so full of crumbling, burned-out houses and lush weeds that they more closely resemble the nuclear ghost town of Pripyat, near Chernobyl, than Chicago’s glitzy downtown an hour to the northwest. Air, water, and soil pollution are severe.

How to Insulate the Attic in a 1910 Remodel

Posted on August 29, 2016 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Tim Lange is taking on a major renovation of his 1910 home in North Dakota that will include a new roof, exterior spray-foam insulation, and new doors and windows. His quandary is what to do in the attic.

"I think I've got a good handle on the exterior insulation process — using window bucks to create an 'outie' style window is the current plan," Lange writes in a Q&A post at GBA. "The third floor and attic are where I need some help."

Register for a free account and join the conversation


Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!