The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

All About Furnaces and Duct Systems

Posted on January 24, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Many different appliances can be used to heat a house, including boilers, water heaters, heat pumps, and wood stoves. However, most homes in the U.S. are heated by a forced-air furnace.

These devices are connected to ducts that deliver heated air to registers throughout the house. Different types of furnaces are manufactured to burn a variety of fuels, including natural gas, propane, oil, and firewood. The most common furnace fuel in the U.S. is natural gas.

On the Benefits of Online Learning

Posted on January 23, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Truth be told, I was slow warming up to online instruction. Ten years ago, in early 2004, BuildingGreen was approached by Boston Architectural College (then Boston Architectural Center — but with the same acronym, BAC) about collaborating on sustainable design curriculum. There is so much value in face-to-face instruction and student interaction, I thought, how could online instruction take its place?

Will a Gas Furnace Dry Out a Home’s Air?

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

I get asked from time to time if a gas furnace dries out the air in a home and makes a humidifier necessary.

Justin Fink’s Canned Spray Foam Tip

Posted on January 21, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

I've been paying attention to energy-efficiency and air-sealing tips for many years, but I still learn something new every week. This week, I learned a very useful tip from my fellow Fine Homebuilding editor, Justin Fink.

Justin wrote a great article on canned spray foam, “You Don't Know Foam,” that appeared in the current issue of Fine Homebuilding.

A Visit to a German Home Center

Posted on January 21, 2014 by Andrew Dey in Guest Blogs

I haven’t actually found any hardware stores in Berlin — something akin to Aubuchon in New Hampshire, or the mom-and-pop hardware stores that may still exist in some small towns in America. The biggest home improvement store chain in Germany is called OBI, which is the third largest such company in the world, after Home Depot and Lowe’s. I have heard that there is an OBI up in the Mitte section of Berlin, but Bauhaus is the home improvement store that I have seen while biking around town.

Part 2 of GBA’s Video Series on a Passive House Project

Posted on January 20, 2014 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

At 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. job site in Falmouth, Massachusetts, architect Steve Baczek specified a mudsill gasket.

But to make sure that the gap between the top of the foundation and the sill plate didn't leak, Baczek took a belt-and-suspenders approach by also specifying the use of Tremco acoustical sealant. Sold in tubes at specialty retailers and online, the black sealant installs easily with a caulk gun. It’s exceedingly sticky and highly elastic, and unlike construction adhesive, it never cures.

Dealing With Cold Weather in Climate Zone 3

Posted on January 20, 2014 by Carl Seville, GBA Advisor in Green Building Curmudgeon

We had some serious cold weather down here in Georgia recently, and although it didn’t come close to Martin Holladay’s recent experiences in Vermont, the low temperatures were a bit of a shock and caused a lot of problems.

Practical Design Advice for Zero-Net-Energy Homes

Posted on January 17, 2014 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

First of all, thank you very much to all of you who contributed to this thread. I agree with all of you completely.☺ Remember, the reason Internet discussions are so acrimonious is because the stakes are so low…

Safe Storage of Nuclear Waste

Posted on January 16, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

In my seemingly endless desire to dive headfirst into controversy, let me return to the issue of nuclear waste storage — something I last wrote about in this column five years ago, in January, 2009. This is a relevant issue today because of the pending closure of Vermont’s only nuclear power plant.

Use Plenum Trusses To Keep Ducts Out of Your Attic

Posted on January 15, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

If you want to do something really stupid with the ducts for a heating and air conditioning system, put them in an unconditioned attic.

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