The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

The BTU-tiful History of the BTU

Posted on March 23, 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Every year on New Year's Eve, I head over to some friends' house here in the Atlanta area. They have the best party around — Possum Drop — and I've been going for nearly a decade now. As midnight approaches, the newly-crowned Possum Queen leads the countdown. The possum is lowered slowly onto the fire and then erupts in an explosion flames and sparks.

Don't worry. It’s not a real live possum. It's a giant possum made of chicken wire, papier-mâché, fabric, and other scavenged materials... and it's stuffed full of fireworks!

A Timber-Frame House for a Cold Climate — Part 2

Posted on March 22, 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. The first installment of his blog series was A Timber-Frame House for a Cold Climate — Part 1.

Moving Beyond the Autobahn

Posted on March 21, 2016 by Christian Schwägerl in Guest Blogs

Last November, politicians, environmentalists, and bicycling enthusiasts gathered in Mülheim in Germany’s Ruhr Valley — one of Europe’s major industrial centers — to open the first 11 kilometers (7 miles) of a planned 100-kilometer bicycle highway that will run from Hamm to Duisburg.

GBA Prime Sneak Peek: Plan Ahead for Insulation

Posted on March 19, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog Prime subscribers have access to many articles that aren't accessible to non-subscribers, including Martin Holladay's weekly blog series, “Musings of an Energy Nerd.” To whet the appetite of non-subscribers, we occasionally offer non-subscribers access to a “GBA Prime Sneak Peek” article like this one.

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 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. 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?
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