The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Four Ways Bad Duct Systems Can Lead to Poor Indoor Air Quality

Posted on April 9, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Indoor air quality (IAQIndoor air quality. Healthfulness of an interior environment; IAQ is affected by such factors as moisture and mold, emissions of volatile organic compounds from paints and finishes, formaldehyde emissions from cabinets, and ventilation effectiveness.) is a big deal. It doesn't get nearly as much attention as energy efficiency or green building programs, but it should be one of the highest priorities for anyone who breathes air and spends time indoors.

It's actually part of an even bigger deal called indoor environmental quality (IEQ), but I'm just going to focus on IAQ here as I show you four ways your ducts might be hurting your indoor air quality.

Mineral Wool Insulation Isn’t Like Fiberglass

Posted on April 8, 2014 by Gregory La Vardera in Guest Blogs

If you are interested in green building, or call yourself a green building expert, then you should know about mineral wool insulation. If you have not seen mineral wool handled and installed, then you need to read this.

If you think that mineral wool batts are similar enough to fiberglass batts that you already know what you need to know about it, then you are a fool. And you still need to read this.

What’s the Best Basement Flooring System?

Posted on April 7, 2014 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

With a basement remodel underway, Jeff Dieterle weighs his options for a trouble-free floor. "We want to do the kitchen and bathroom in tile or stone and the rest of the area in wall-to-wall carpet," he writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor.

Residential Commissioning

Posted on April 4, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Building a new home usually requires work by several subcontractors, including electricians, plumbers, and HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. installers. At the end of the job, someone — usually the general contractor — has to verify that all of the specified work has been completed.

Has the water heater been installed? Check.

Air conditioner? Check.

Ducts? Check.

Ventilation system? Check.

Collection and Use of Urine

Posted on April 3, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Just when you thought it was safe to enjoy this blog over your morning cup of coffee, here’s an article on… urine?

Really?

Let me explain.

Urine is a largely sterile, nutrient-rich resource that can be used in fertilizing plants. In fact, according to the Rich Earth Institute, the urine from one adult in a year can produce over 300 pounds of wheat — enough for nearly a loaf of bread per day.

A Classic 1970s Home Goes from Solar-Heated to Net Zero Energy

Posted on April 2, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Last week I was in Lexington, Kentucky speaking at the Midwest Residential Energy Conference. It was a great regional conference, and the folks there are making things happen. (I even played nice. With all those Kentucky Wildcat fans there, I held back and didn't mention in any of my talks that I'm a Florida Gator.) One of the many highlights for me was getting to visit Richard Levine’s 1970s active solar house. It stands out like no other house I've seen, and I've seen other solar houses.

A Passivhaus Doesn’t Have to Look Weird

Posted on April 1, 2014 by alan abrams in Guest Blogs

Does a 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. have to look weird? The short answer is, no.

Passive House Training, One Year Later

Posted on March 31, 2014 by Robert Swinburne in Guest Blogs

I have been asked about my 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. Consultant training by other architects enough times that I thought I’d write up a quick synopsis, one year later.

For me, the training was very useful for several reasons, not the least of which was the networking aspect. It is a small community with some really great conversation happening and it is fun to be a part of that.

Deep Energy Retrofits Are Often Misguided

Posted on March 28, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

All through the 1980s and 1990s, a small band of North American believers worked to maintain and expand our understanding of residential energy efficiency. These were the pioneers of the home performance field: blower-door experts, weatherization contractors, and “house as a system” trainers. At conferences like Affordable Comfort, they gathered to share their knowledge and lick their wounds.

These pioneers understood what was wrong with American houses: They leaked air; they were inadequately insulated; they had bad windows; and their duct systems were a disaster.

Reinventing Concrete

Posted on March 27, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I’ve been in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past week speaking at various conferences. (When I travel I try to combine activities to assuage my guilt at burning all the fuel and emitting all that carbon dioxide to get there. Between conferences, I’m now spending time with my daughter in Petaluma and Napa.)

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