The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Rethinking the Grid

Posted on March 3, 2015 by Karl Rábago in Guest Blogs

Karl R. Rábago is the executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center at the Pace University School of Law in White Plains, New York. This blog was originally posted at the website of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association's Building Energy conference and is republished here with permission. Rábago is a keynote speaker for the opening of the conference in Boston on March 4, 2015.

Can Solar Electricity Trump a Ductless Minisplit?

Posted on March 2, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Ven Sonata's query is simple: If the falling cost of installing a photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) system has killed off the viability of solar hot water systems, as GBA senior editor Martin Holladay believes, does it also represent a threat to the beloved ductless minisplit for heating and cooling?

Unfolding Community Resilience

Posted on March 2, 2015 by Robert Leaver in Guest Blogs

This blog was originally posted by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association as part of this year's BuildingEnergy conference in Boston. Robert Leaver has over 38 years of experience as a convener and facilitator. He will speak at sessions on March 4 and again on March 5.

Ice Dam Basics

Posted on February 27, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

What do you call the weeks between Valentine’s Day and Easter? It’s ice damA ridge of ice that forms along the lower edge of a roof, possibly leading to roof leaks. Ice dams are usually caused by heat leaking from the attic, which melts snow on the upper parts of the roof; the water then refreezes along the colder eaves working it's way back up the roof and under shingles. season, of course. Eastern Massachusetts is now the wet-ceiling capital of the world, but this winter, tens of thousands of homeowners from North Dakota to Maine are struggling with ice dams.

Grumpy Architect Time

Posted on February 26, 2015 by Robert Swinburne in Guest Blogs

I’m not normally a grumpy architect, but when I am it is usually because of something on this list.

1. If your house is adequately insulated there should be little temperature differential between the ceiling and the floor.

2. “Adequately” differs from code. Remember, a house built to code is the worst house you can legally build.

3. If you choose not to build an Energy-Star-certified home, please give your poor starving architect the $2,000 (the value of the Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. incentive) that you obviously have to spare.

Santa Cruz Straw Bale

Posted on February 26, 2015 by Anni Tilt in Green Building Blog

As a rule, we make sure our clients are interested in sustainability and design in equal parts, and ideally, our clients are also fun, intelligent, and engaged. When we met Bernie and Erika at a cafe near our office four years ago, our firm was incredibly busy, and it didn’t seem possible to add another project to our schedule. When the couple described their goals for the house and their property two blocks from the ocean in an eclectic neighborhood in Santa Cruz, Calif., we hesitated. “I’ll tell you what,” Bernie said.

The Fundamentals of Series and Parallel Heat Flow

Posted on February 25, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

We used to build houses without giving much thought to heat flow through the walls, ceilings, and floors. The main thing was to provide some resistance against wind and rain, and then we'd get a fire going to try to make the indoor temperatures bearable.

If you've ever lived in an old, uninsulated house, you know that method didn't work that well so later we started putting insulation into the cavities in building assemblies. Homes with insulated cavities are much more comfortable, but how exactly does heat flow through building assemblies? Turns out there are two ways.

Deep in the Heat of Texas

Posted on February 24, 2015 by Matt Risinger in Green Building Blog

You may have heard that here in Central Texas, it gets hot. The average temperature rises above 90°F on more than 100 days out of the year. As you might expect, we turn on the air conditioner more often than the furnace.

Foam Shrinks, and Other Lessons

Posted on February 23, 2015 by Joe Lstiburek, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

I did a deep-energy retrofit on my barn 16 years ago. Building Science Corp. was young and growing, and we needed a bigger office. The barn would be that office for the next 10 years. In fact, Betsy Pettit wrote about it in “Remodeling for Energy Efficiency” (FHB #194).

Designing for the Future

Posted on February 20, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

When an architect, residential builder, and owner sit around a table for their first design meeting, their ostensible goal is to begin designing a house. Whether they realize it or not, however, these three people are also predicting the future.

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