The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Part 3 of GBA’s Passivhaus Video Series

Posted on June 19, 2014 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

At the PassivhausA 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 the installation of 10 inches of EPSExpanded polystyrene. Type of rigid foam insulation that, unlike extruded polystyrene (XPS), does not contain ozone-depleting HCFCs. EPS frequently has a high recycled content. Its vapor permeability is higher and its R-value lower than XPS insulation. EPS insulation is classified by type: Type I is lowest in density and strength and Type X is highest. under the slab-on-grade foundation. After the concrete had been placed, more rigid foam was installed above the slab, to bring the finished floor assembly to R-50.

Beware of This Expensive Ventilation Scam

Posted on June 18, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

How much does an exhaust fan cost? Search online and you can find lots of them that move 200 cubic feet per minute (cfm) for $100 to $150. But, if you put one in a semi-attractive (emphasis on the "semi") package, create some fancy marketing materials, and target people who don't know much building science, you can charge $1,200 to $1,700 for that same fan. At least that seems to be the business plan for these three companies.

Tracking Our Company’s Carbon Footprint

Posted on June 17, 2014 by john abrams in Guest Blogs

South Mountain Company is a 39-year-old employee-owned company offering integrated architecture, engineering, building, and renewable energy services. We like to measure how we’re doing in as many ways as possible. Like other businesses, we have a collection of metrics for financial tracking: profit and loss, budget projections and actuals, job costing of each project, value of our several funds (pension, equity, and reserves), and more.

On Trying To Do the Right Thing

Posted on June 16, 2014 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

This week's Q&A Spotlight is more about the business of building, and less about the science of building. The case involves a homeowner who is struggling to find a balance between his ethical responsibilities and a desire to save a few bucks.

Universal Design

Posted on June 13, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Why are most interior doorways only 30 inches wide? Why are so many doorknobs hard to grip? And why do so many homes have a long stairway between the front door and the bedrooms?

Two typical answers to these questions would be, “because that’s the way we’ve always built houses” and “because these houses meet code.” (Those two reasons happen to be pretty weak, by the way.)

Farewell!

Posted on June 12, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Transitions.

Back in June, 2008 I started writing a weekly column on energy for the Brattleboro Reformer, our local newspaper. I thought it would be fun to write a regular column on a topic that I’ve focused so much time on over the past 35-plus years. I was pretty confident that I could come up with enough topics to crank out a year’s worth of columns, and I thought some of the Reformer’s readers would appreciate such a column — geeky as it might be.

The Two Main Reasons Your Ducts Don’t Move Enough Air

Posted on June 11, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Two things. Just two things in your ducts are responsible for giving the blower in your furnace or air handler a hard time. They make the blower push against more pressure, thus reducing air flow or increasing energy use, depending on blower type. They cut the amount of air that gets delivered to the rooms. And they can be reduced but not eliminated. Do you know what they are?

Solving Our Design Problems

Posted on June 10, 2014 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

Once we bought our new house in the fall of 2012, we began to work on the new design. We were starting with a one-bedroom house measuring 1,142 square feet on one level. The house has a full basement.

Stop Using Propane and Oil and Go Electric

Posted on June 9, 2014 by Nick Sisler in Guest Blogs

One of the biggest mistakes many builders make is to install a heating system fueled by propane or oil heat without considering an electric heat pumpHeating and cooling system in which specialized refrigerant fluid in a sealed system is alternately evaporated and condensed, changing its state from liquid to vapor by altering its pressure; this phase change allows heat to be transferred into or out of the house. See air-source heat pump and ground-source heat pump.. In most cases that choice is costing the owners hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars a year in higher energy bills.

Vermont House Uses Only Half a Cord of Firewood

Posted on June 6, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

When my friend Laura Murphy mentioned that her neighbors in Ripton, Vermont, Chris and Zoe Pike, stayed warm last winter by burning just half a cord of firewood, I was intrigued. So I tracked down the Pikes to learn a few more details about their house.

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