The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Open-Cell Spray Foam and Damp Roof Sheathing

Posted on January 3, 2014 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Now that insulation contractors have been installing spray foam insulation on the underside of roof 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. for several years, we’re beginning to accumulate anecdotes and data on successful installations and failed installations. The anecdotes and data are enough to provide a few rules of thumb for designers and builders who want to install spray foam on the underside of roof sheathing.

More Wishes for 2014

Posted on January 2, 2014 by Alex Wilson in Energy Solutions

Last week I wrote about a handful of product introductions and improvements I’d like to see in the coming year. This week, I’ll focus on a different level of New Year’s wishes: not product-related, but trends and broader change.

An Update on the Pretty Good House — Part 2

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Christopher Briley in Green Architects' Lounge

Cocktails in hand, Phil and I pick up the conversation about the Pretty Good House. Be sure to check Part 1 of this episode for some of the basics and the origins of this nebulous building/design concept.

The Highlights:

A Great Anecdote: Phil tells a great anecdote that illustrates the need for the Pretty Good House Guidelines.

Installing Windows the Right Way

Posted on December 30, 2013 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Brian Beaulieu would seem to be well on his way to enjoying a high-performance house in southern Maine. The double-stud walls are 10 1/2 inches thick and insulated with mineral wool. The exterior air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both. is the taped Zipwall system, backed up with airtight drywall on the interior for a second line of defense against air leakage.

Beaulieu has invested in top-quality tripled-glazed Intus windows suitable for PassivhausA 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. designs. And it's here that Beaulieu has run into a problem.

Stupid Energy-Saving Tips

Posted on December 27, 2013 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Just for fun, I recently Googled the phrase “energy-saving tips.” I dove deep — all the way to page 7 of the Google results. My research was profoundly discouraging.

Back in 2011, I wrote two articles about bad energy-savings tips. (See More Energy Myths and A Plague of Bad Energy-Saving Tips.)

Since then, is there any possibility that the quality of online advice improved? Not a chance.

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?

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