The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Does Wasting Home Heating Make You See (Infra)Red?

Posted on June 5, 2017 by Jacob Corvidae in Guest Blogs

Have you ever wanted X-ray vision, or to see the hidden features of your home? The City of Vancouver has launched a new effort to make energy use more visible to its residents, complete with rainbow-colored images of their homes that show details invisible to the naked eye. Using thermal imaging to show heat loss in roughly 15,000 homes in five neighborhoods, Vancouver aims to help residents uncover wasted energy.

How to Design an Off-Grid House

Posted on June 2, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

A very small percentage of U.S. homes are off the electricity grid — far fewer, for example, than in Africa. That said, North American designers of off-grid homes often end up posting questions on GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com.

To help this subset of builders avoid common design errors, I’ll share what I’ve learned from living in an off-grid house for 42 years.

Space as a Green Metric

Posted on June 1, 2017 by Kristina Eldrenkamp in Guest Blogs

“Green” can be an empty term if it’s not defined in measurable ways. This conviction has informed our efforts to assign performance metrics to projects and to monitor progress towards meeting these over time. Some of the ways we document performance include our energy and water use tracking program and our protocols for protecting occupants against indoor pollutants (from activities like cooking).

An Introduction to the Flatrock Passive House

Posted on May 31, 2017 by David Goodyear in Guest Blogs

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of posts by David Goodyear describing the construction of his new home in Flatrock, Newfoundland, the first in the province to be built to the 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. standard. You can find Goodyear's complete blog here. This post was originally published in January 2017.

Urban Rustic: The Cedar Siding Is Here — Let’s Burn It

Posted on May 30, 2017 by Eric Whetzel in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: This post is one of a series by Eric Whetzel about the design and construction of his house in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The first blog in his series was called An Introduction to a New Passive House Project. For more details, see Eric's blog, Kimchi & Kraut.

Making the Case for Exterior Foam Insulation

Posted on May 29, 2017 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Writing from Climate Zone 3, Farm House seems to have worked out many of the details for the dream house he plans to start building in a few months.

"Plan to live in it for 30+ years," he writes in a post at the Q&A forum at Green Building Advisor. "The house will have Zip System 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. and will be well insulated on the inside. I will just leave it at that. Not interested in installing rigid foam on the outside of the roof sheathing. (I have my reasons, so please don't try to convince me otherwise.)

Night Sky Radiation

Posted on May 26, 2017 by Martin Holladay in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Let’s say you walk into an unheated room. The air temperature is only 50°F. There is a wood stove in the room, but the wood stove is unlit.

Your body is at about 98°F. Since your body is warmer than absolute zero, it is radiating heat in all directions. (All objects that aren’t at absolute zero emit infrared radiation). The wood stove is cool — it’s at 50°F. Still, the wood stove is also radiating heat in all directions.

Young Adults and the Construction Trades

Posted on May 25, 2017 by Rose Quint in Guest Blogs

NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. conducted a national poll of young adults aged 18 to 25 to find out how this age group feels about a career in the construction trades. The majority of young adults (74%) say they know the field in which they want to have a career. Of these, only 3% are interested in the construction trades.

Most of the young people interested in the trades say that the two most important benefits of this career choice are good pay (80%) and the attainment of useful skills (74%). Less than half cite as benefits that the work is seasonal (15%) or that it does not require a college degree (37%).

Heating Degree Days Drop Again in 2017

Posted on May 24, 2017 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD in Building Science

We've had some beautiful cool weather here in Atlanta this spring. It's about 50°F outdoors as I write this, one week into the month of May. The high yesterday was only about 70°F.

We're getting a few more heating degree days (HDDThe difference between the 24-hour average (daily) temperature and the base temperature for one year for each day that the average is below the base temperature. For heating degree days, the base is usually 65 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, if the average temperature for December 1, 2001 was 30 degrees Fahrenheit, then the number of heating degrees for that day was 35.) in the middle of May. (Heating degree days are really just another way at looking at temperature, which I explained in more detail in a look at the fundamentals of degree days.) We occasionally pick up some HDD even in July and August. But it's the winter HDD that matter for heating — and that give us a clue about the climate.

Clean Energy Programs Are Safe for Now

Posted on May 23, 2017 by Elizabeth Noll in Guest Blogs

Congress did its job last week in preserving funding for critical clean energy programs that create jobs and save Americans money. The just-passed Fiscal Year 2017 spending bill, which will keep the government running through September 30, largely sustains funding for efficiency standards, advanced research, renewable energy deployment, and other important clean energy initiatives.

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