The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

White, Wealthy and Whiny: An Environmental Movement in Need of a Makeover

Posted on April 22, 2015 by Peter Dykstra in Guest Blogs

Now that I’ve gotten your attention with an over-the-top headline, understand that I don’t really buy it. Not completely, anyway.

But millions of Americans do, and because of that, pushback against environmental initiatives is both strong and often devoid of reason.

LEED Can Help Fix the Water Problem

Posted on April 21, 2015 by Stuart Kaplow in Guest Blogs

While news reports have recently focused on California Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order, in response to that state’s long-running drought, seeking to reduce overall water use by 25 percent, there may be more to be learned from how the small Town of Hampstead in Maryland responded to its own water crisis in 2008.

Despite the fact that the U.S. uses less water than it did in 1980, availability of potable water is increasingly an issue. According to the EPA, at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages this year.

Commissioning ERVs

Posted on April 20, 2015 by Greg Labbe in Guest Blogs

We were recently called to commission a fully ducted energy-recovery ventilation (ERV(ERV). The part of a balanced ventilation system that captures water vapor and heat from one airstream to condition another. In cold climates, water vapor captured from the outgoing airstream by ERVs can humidify incoming air. In hot-humid climates, ERVs can help maintain (but not reduce) the interior relative humidity as outside air is conditioned by the ERV.) system in a newly constructed, "near passive" house.

Save Energy With Storm Windows

Posted on April 20, 2015 by Mike Guertin, GBA Advisor in Green Building Blog

A client contacted me about installing replacement double-hung windows because she said the old ones were leaky and difficult to operate. It turned out that the double-hung wood windows on her 1960s ranch were actually in good condition. The problem was with the storm windows, which were aluminum triple-track models that had corroded. Many of the spring-loaded sash locks had frozen up, so the sashes wouldn’t latch in position, and the gasketing had dried up, allowing the sashes to rattle and leak air.

Fixing Attics With Vermiculite Insulation

Posted on April 17, 2015 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If you're under the impression that natural insulation materials are the safest ones to use, it might be time to think again. Vermiculite is a natural insulation material — but it’s one that you definitely don’t want to have in your attic.

Vermiculite is a mineral mined from the earth, composed of shiny flakes that look like mica. When this mineral is put in an oven, it expands like popcorn. Expanded vermiculite is lightweight, fire-resistant, and odorless; since it has an R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. of about R-2 per inch, it was used for decades as an insulation material.

Do Wood-Burning Power Plants Make Sense?

Posted on April 16, 2015 by Willem Post in Guest Blogs

A recent comment posted at a Vermont news web site called VTDigger read, "Just a single 25 megawatt (MW) woodchip plant could/would provide some 4 percent of Vermont’s [electricity] consumption, 24/7, and would contribute to the Vermont economy in the form of jobs and money in circulation from the wages [and] taxes — wealth created in the state that stays in the state."

From Luxury to LEED

Posted on April 16, 2015 by Mark Picton in Green Building Blog

Like other building contractors, we have enjoyed the challenge of building big, fancy houses, and we are honored by the confidence and trust their owners have placed in us. In the best of those projects, the details were exquisite and demanding. Besides providing a good living, however, the single-minded, spare-no-effort pursuit of quality in big projects should leave us spiritually nourished and enriched.

An Interview with Building Science Pioneer Terry Brennan

Posted on April 15, 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Last week I got a chance to sit down and talk with Terry Brennan in Dallas at the Air Barrier Association of America’s annual conference. He may not be as famous as Joe Lstiburek, but he’s every bit the building science pioneer. Armed with a physics degree, the ASHRAEAmerican Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). International organization dedicated to the advancement of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration through research, standards writing, publishing, and continuing education. Membership is open to anyone in the HVAC&R field; the organization has about 50,000 members. Handbook of Fundamentals, and a desire to reduce the environmental impact of buildings, he built houses and wrote energy modeling computer programs back in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Hoping for a Climate Change Breakthrough

Posted on April 14, 2015 by Peter Dykstra in Guest Blogs

Those concerned about climate change have no choice but hope. I take that a step further: Despite the overwhelming evidence that they’re horrendously wrong, I hope the climate deniers are right.

Better to look like a fool than to suffer what science says is in store for us.

Failing that, let’s return to the eternal hopes that carbon-free lightbulbs will appear over the heads of the Senate Majority and three ghosts per Koch Brother will leave a Dickensian impression overnight.

Where is This Water Coming From?

Posted on April 13, 2015 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Writing from Climate Zone 6, GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com reader David Metzger is looking for some advice about his standing-seam metal roof. More to the point, why is there water dripping from the soffit when the winter's accumulation of snow and ice starts to melt?

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