The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

‘Peer Diffusion’ Can Make Better Homes a Must Have

Posted on December 1, 2016 by Anonymous in Guest Blogs

By DOUGLAS MILLER and LARRY ZARKER

Peer Diffusion: A form of communication within and between networks of people that (1) occurs through varying forms of social comparison and social interaction around an innovation (i.e., a new behavior, idea, or technology) and (2) ultimately promotes the broader adoption of that innovation.

Wolfe Island Passive: Building With Cross-Laminated Timber

Posted on November 30, 2016 by DMWood 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.

Biofuels Turn Out To Be a Climate Mistake

Posted on November 29, 2016 by JohnDeCicco in Guest Blogs

Ever since the 1973 oil embargo, U.S. energy policy has sought to replace petroleum-based transportation fuels with alternatives. One prominent option is using biofuels such as ethanol in place of gasoline and biodiesel instead of ordinary diesel.

Transportation generates one-fourth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, so addressing this sector’s impact is crucial for climate protection.

Making the Case for Prefab Zero-Energy Homes

Posted on November 28, 2016 by BruceSullivan in Guest Blogs

Because zero-energy homes are built to higher standards than most ordinary homes, they require greater attention to detail and often cost somewhat more. These two realities make zero energy homes especially well suited to the economies of scale, the speed of construction, and the precision industrial methods involved in modern prefab construction.

Cold Floors and Warm Ceilings

Posted on November 25, 2016 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

During the winter, the air near your floor is cold, while the air near your ceiling is hot. Similarly, during the summer, the air conditioner keeps your first floor comfortable, while the rooms on the second floor are unbearably hot. What’s going on?

The usual answer is, “Heat rises.” But that explanation isn’t quite accurate. (It’s true that hot air rises by convection. But heat travels in all directions, including sideways and downward, by conductionMovement of heat through a material as kinetic energy is transferred from molecule to molecule; the handle of an iron skillet on the stove gets hot due to heat conduction. R-value is a measure of resistance to conductive heat flow. and radiation.)

Break It or Lose It

Posted on November 24, 2016 by alove in Guest Blogs

Over the past 20 years, the building industry has experienced renewed interest in reducing the energy demand of buildings. At the building code level, groups such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAEAmerican Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). International organization dedicated to the advancement of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration through research, standards writing, publishing, and continuing education. Membership is open to anyone in the HVAC&R field; the organization has about 50,000 members. ) have been steadily raising the bar on performance criteria for building envelopes and systems. Designers have been challenged to find and implement technologies and solutions that can practically and economically affect the energy demands of our buildings.

Revisiting the Debate Over Global Warming and Insulation

Posted on November 23, 2016 by ab3 in Building Science

At the North American 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 in Philadelphia in September, I gave a presentation on the global warming impact of insulation, an issue I've discussed a few times since Alex Wilson wrote his paper on the topic back in 2010. In my presentation, I covered two different aspects of the issue: (i) the problem with Wilson's payback calculations and (ii) using David White's global warming impact calculator to make more informed decisions.

Operating at Net-Zero Energy

Posted on November 22, 2016 by PaulEldrenkampAndRachelWhite in Guest Blogs

A few months ago we completed a deep energy retrofit of a house that we hope will be net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. — in other words, that we hope will produce as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis. If we succeed, this will be our first net-zero project.

There are two key strategies for designing a net-zero-ready home: you minimize the amount of energy the house needs to operate; and you maximize the amount of energy that the house can produce onsite, usually with a 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. system (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.). In short, you create an energy budget that balances consumption with production.

Designing a Combined Hot Water System

Posted on November 21, 2016 by ScottG in Q&A Spotlight

Vladimir Polyakov's two-story colonial is undergoing a down-to-the-studs rehab, with insulation upgrades and a new heating system on the way.

Drywall Finishing Tips for Owner-Builders

Posted on November 18, 2016 by user-756436 in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Plenty of owner-builders are happy to hang drywall. When it comes to taping and finishing, however, most feel less confident. Some just shrug their shoulders and announce, “I’m going to hire a contractor to do the drywall.”

Spreading drywall mud is like frosting a cake. You need to have the right touch, and the right touch takes experience. The first time you frost a cake, you’re going to damage the surface of the cake and get cake crumbs mixed with the frosting. You need to take a deep breath, slow down, and adjust the pressure on your knife.

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