The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

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.

Why Is This Wood Stove Misbehaving?

Posted on January 13, 2014 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Clark Agnew should be the envy of his neighborhood. He has a tight house, a high-efficiency wood stove with its own fresh-air intake, and access to free firewood. A heat recovery ventilator (HRV(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air. ) keeps indoor air healthy. What's not to like?

But, as he writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor, the situation is far from ideal.

"I have run the stove about 6 or 7 times since we moved in," Agnew writes. "Three of those times it has backdrafted."

Twenty Below and Off the Grid

Posted on January 10, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

In a recent blog, Allison Bailes did a great job defining heat and explaining heat flow. It’s important to remember, though, that Allison Bailes lives in Atlanta. When the temperature drops to 6°F in Atlanta, the story makes national news. But when the temperature hits -20°F in Vermont, we just tell our kids to remember to wear a hat when they walk to school.

Minisplit Heat Pumps and Zero-Net-Energy Homes

Posted on January 9, 2014 by Marc Rosenbaum in Guest Blogs

For the last several years, just about every project I’ve worked on other than large university buildings has used minisplit heat pumps for heating and cooling. Why?

1 – There is no combustion and no need for a chimney or vent.

2 – In space conditioning applications, heat pumps can provide heating and cooling.

3 – The equipment installation costs and the operating costs compare favorably with other options.

4 – Heat pumps are a natural partner to solar electric systems to achieve zero-net-energy buildings.

Heating System Safety In Cold Weather

Posted on January 9, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

The morning paper had yet another story about a destructive house fire — fortunately no fatalities (this time*), but the total loss of another home and another family’s belongings. And like many others, the culprit appears to have been the wood stove.

So many of the home fires we experience in Vermont result from trying to keep warm. Some have to do with faulty installation of wood heating equipment; many others result from improper operation of that equipment or management of the ash.

153 Green Building Acronyms and Initials

Posted on January 8, 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Acronyms and initials (let's call that AI, for short, not to be confused with the other AI, which stands for artificial intelligence, or AIA, which stands for American Institute of Architects) are part of the jargon of every field. Our field, whether you call it building science, green building, home performance, or something else, is no exception.

A German Deep-Energy Retrofit

Posted on January 7, 2014 by Andrew Dey in Guest Blogs

I recently visited a job site on the outskirts of Berlin that had previously caught my eye. Although the buildings were shrouded in the usual scaffolding and screening, I had noticed while biking by that the work involved “energetische sanierung,” or energy retrofitting.

The Street-Side Energy Audit

Posted on January 6, 2014 by Erik North in Guest Blogs

When my wife and I bought our current house, one of the home’s appeals was that it was largely uninsulated. Given the choice between somewhat insulated and uninsulated, give me the blank slate every time.

We moved in in September, and because of a super-busy energy auditEnergy audit that also includes inspections and tests to assess moisture flow, combustion safety, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and durability. season and the need to unpack, any desired home-improvement projects were temporarily back-burnered.

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