The most recent blogs at Green Building Advisor

Finishing Touches for a Pretty Good House in New Hampshire

Posted on January 19, 2016 by Brian Post in Guest Blogs

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of blogs chronicling the design and construction of a house owned by Brian Post and Kyra Salancy. The first blog in the series was titled Building a Small House in the White Mountains.

Foundation Plan for a Snowy Climate

Posted on January 18, 2016 by Scott Gibson in Q&A Spotlight

Nathan Scaglione's central New York State building site gets plenty of snow and cold weather during the winter, and that's proving to be a sticking point in his plans for a new house.

He'd prefer a slab-on-grade foundation rather than a basement, even though a full basement would be a more typical choice in this part of the country. The foundation would consist of concrete-block stem walls extending to a footing below frost line. Exterior walls would be framed on top of the block walls, roughly 24 inches above grade. Inside the block walls, Scaglione will pour a concrete slab floor.

Preventing Water Entry Into a Home

Posted on January 15, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

If it is designed well, the thermal envelope of your home should control the flow of heat, air, and moisture. Unfortunately, the floors, walls, and ceilings of older buildings are often leaky: they leak heat, they leak air, and they leak moisture.

If you are building a new house, you have the opportunity to control the flow of heat, air, and moisture through your home’s building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials.. The result will be a durable, comfortable building that doesn’t cost much to heat and cool.

Settings Matter

Posted on January 14, 2016 by Noah Horowitz in Guest Blogs

Now that the gift-giving holidays are nearly in the rearview mirror and bill-paying season is just ahead, it's a good time to remind you that those electronic devices given or received need not result in higher electric bills.

There are ways to keep your energy use under control without always visiting your brother-in-law's house to borrow a little electricity. In fact, many electronics manufacturers today offer settings that fine-tune the efficiency of their gadgetry — and usually those settings are pretty easy to manipulate.

The Pros and Cons of Skylights

Posted on January 13, 2016 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD, GBA Advisor in Building Science

Everyone loves skylights. Right? They bring so much light into a room they can turn a Seattle kitchen into a bright and sunny Florida room. Especially at this time of year (in the northern hemisphere), having that extra light can brighten even the darkest days of winter.

But skylights have a dark side, too. If you're not aware of that when incorporating these roof windows into a home, you can end up with high energy bills, rooms that are unusable at certain times of the year, or expensive repairs due to moisture problems.

New Rules for Ceiling Fans

Posted on January 12, 2016 by Andrew deLaski in Guest Blogs

Late last month, the Department of Energy (DOEUnited States Department of Energy.) issued two rules affecting ceiling fans: a proposed rule that would establish the first efficiency performance standards for ceiling fans, and a final rule that improves the efficiency of the lights attached to ceiling fans.

The proposed ceiling fan standards would save about 11% of the energy used by ceiling fans. Energy savings would more than double, though, if DOE adopted a standard level based on advanced motor technology for residential ceiling fans.

Learn the Real (Hard) Work of Residential Design

Posted on January 11, 2016 by Andrew Webster in Guest Blogs

I don’t sit in a hotel room in Boston for two days in the middle of winter, just to have someone tell me how everything worked out just as they planned. The truth is much more entertaining, a lot more flawed, and a lot more useful to me as a professional.

Residential design is difficult work. With few exceptions, every client is an amateur. Every design is a testament to who the client thinks she ought to be. Every project is a wrestling match between the things he always wanted and the ones he can afford. The work is not easy.

Air-to-Water Heat Pumps

Posted on January 8, 2016 by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor in Musings of an Energy Nerd

Most air conditioners and heat pumps sold in the U.S. — including most split-system air conditioners and ductless minisplits — are air-to-air heat pumps. During the winter, these appliances extract heat from the outdoor air and deliver warm air to a house through ducts or small fan-coil units. During the summer, these appliances deliver cool air to a house and dump unwanted heat into the outdoor air.

Repairing Rotten Trim

Posted on January 7, 2016 by John Michael Davis in Green Building Blog

If I look hard enough at any house here in New Orleans, I’m sure to see one: a length of casing, fascia or corner board, with a hideous scarf joint only a foot or two from the end. This joint wasn’t put there by the builder; it was added years later to repair a rotten section of trim.

We get a lot of rot down here, and the ends of the boards are often the first to go. When they do, the standard repair is to cut back to undamaged wood at a 45º angle (what’s known as a scarf joint), then attach a new section of trim using yellow glue and finish nails. Sometimes it looks good—for a while.

When Buildings Design Themselves

Posted on January 6, 2016 by Lance Hosey in Guest Blogs

Seven years ago, in my then-column for Architect magazine, I wrote that computerized automation eventually could fulfill the ultimate aims of green building by achieving dramatically better performance. Now the same magazine has taken up the same topic in a couple of recent articles.

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