The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

What I’m Wishing for in 2014

Posted on December 26, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

I spend a lot of time writing about innovations in the building industry — the cool stuff that’s coming out all the time. But I also like to think about what’s needed: stuff that’s not (yet) on the market or performance levels not yet available. This week I’ll describe a few such products, systems, and enhancements.

What Is Heat?

Posted on December 25, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

While you slept last night, Santa Claus was putting his knowledge of physics to work. No, not with that silly anti-gravity stuff. Everyone knows the whole reindeer thing is just a cover for the way he really gets to all those houses in just one night. He uses one of the original Time Turners. In fact, Professor McGonagall got her first Time Turner from Santa himself.

Robert Dumont’s Superinsulated House in Saskatoon

Posted on December 24, 2013 by Michael Henry in Guest Blogs

The first time I saw Rob Dumont’s house, I was unimpressed. I was visiting an ex-girlfriend in Saskatoon, I mentioned that I was doing some research into sustainable homes, and she said, “There’s one near here. We should walk by it.”

A Free Gift for GBA Pro Members

Posted on December 23, 2013 by GBA Team in Green Building Blog

As most regular GreenBuildingAdvisor.com readers know, our website has been plagued by software glitches for many months. These problems include unexplained site crashes, “access denied” errors, and a broken spam filter which caused commercial messages to be posted on our Q&A pages.

All of us here at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com would like to take this opportunity to apologize to GBA subscribers and readers. The current level of service that GBA is offering is unacceptable — unacceptable to our readers, unacceptable to GBA, and unacceptable to the Taunton Press.

An Energy-Efficiency Conference in Germany

Posted on December 23, 2013 by Andrew Dey in Guest Blogs

Germany’s National Energy Agency, or DENA (Deutsche Energie Agentur), recently wrapped up its annual two-day conference in Berlin. The focus of this year’s conference was energy efficiency.

I attended the conference hoping to gain a better understanding of how the government’s ambitious goals for energy efficiency are being met. Is Germany on track to reduce the energy it uses for heating by 20% by 2020? If so, how is this being achieved? If not, what are the obstacles?

Casey Makes a Bet

Posted on December 20, 2013 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

(With apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)

Bob Casey's business worries made him grumble, whine, and moan;
His solar thermal enterprise was dropping like a stone.
While certain clients wanted water heated by the sun,
The calls and jobs were rare these days, which wasn’t very fun.
The contractor regretted his decision long ago
To be a solar plumber; now his life was full of woe.

Industrial Solar?

Posted on December 19, 2013 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

When the economy-of-scale with wind power led to larger and larger wind turbines, opponents of these installations took to referring to them as “industrial wind power.” Whenever I see a letter-to-the-editor or news story that uses this phrase, I can tell that it’s going to have an anti-wind bias.

The Mixed-Up IAQ and Infiltration Limit Blues

Posted on December 18, 2013 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Last week, I caught the second day of Building Science Corporation's Experts' Session. (Click the link to download the presentations from the BSC website.) Joe Lstiburek spoke the whole day about ventilation, and I’ll be writing an article about that soon. At the end of that day, though, we got a little surprise.

Why Is This Sheathing Moldy?

Posted on December 16, 2013 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Brian Lent has discovered something in his walls that no homeowner wants to see: mold.

Preparing a ground-floor room for drywall, Lent pulls some fiberglass batt insulationInsulation, usually of fiberglass or mineral wool and often faced with paper, typically installed between studs in walls and between joists in ceiling cavities. Correct installation is crucial to performance. from a 2x6 stud cavity and notices the back side of the OSB sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. is damp. A moisture meter reveals that in 80% of the bay, the moisture content is 66% or higher. Moisture and mold are heaviest at the bottom of each bay.

In Cold Climates, R-5 Foam Beats R-6

Posted on December 13, 2013 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Researchers have known for years that most types of insulation — including fiberglass batts, extruded polystyrene (XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation.), and expanded polystyrene (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.) — perform better at low temperatures than high temperatures. The phenomenon was described by Chris Schumacher, an engineer and researcher at Building Science Corporation, at a conference in 2011: “If you measure the R-value of an R-13 fiberglass batt, you’ll get different results at different outdoor temperatures. If the outdoor temperature rises, the R-value goes down.

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