Stupid Multifamily Construction Tricks

Posted on April 27,2015 by CarlSeville in air barrier

Although I spent most of my construction career working on single-family homes, the primary subject of this great website, I find that my current work involves primarily multifamily projects — mostly low-rise and mid-rise apartments that are seeking green building certification. In these projects, my partner and I continue to see both new and recurring problems that are not resolved in the design phase, only to be pushed down to the field to be figured out — on a tight budget, in a hurry, and often in the cold or rain.

Insulating an Old Brick Dormitory

Posted on April 27,2015 by ocklein in brick wall

Countless historic masonry buildings dot the American landscape, a large number of them falling under some form of aesthetic scrutiny prohibiting exterior insulation. The only option to make these buildings energy-efficient is to insulate them on the interior.

Borrowing a Cellulose Blower From a Big Box Store

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in attic insulation

Back in the early 1990s, I worked for a nonprofit agency, overseeing renovation work at several old wood-framed buildings in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Each of these century-old buildings had between two and five apartments; after renovation, they were rented to low-income families at subsidized rents.

Passivhaus on Spec in Boston

Posted on April 27,2015 by ScottG in cellulose

The Boston design-build group Placetailor is wrapping up work on a single-family house in the city's Roxbury district that was built on spec to the Passivhaus standard. The has was sold even before work was completed.

Making Green Affordable, Part 2

Posted on April 27,2015 by ChrisBriley in affordability

Part Two of this episode brings us to construction details for high-performance affordable homes. Again, I feel the need to point out that we are not talking about low-income housing or housing that makes a difference between shelter and non-shelter. I'm talking about high-performance homes that will compete, on a financial level, with those cheap vinyl boxes that litter suburbia and urban areas alike. Phil and I have refreshed our drinks and are ready to talk about building envelope construction from the bottom up. Let's get started.

New Videos: Sealing Ducts and Installing Dense-Packed Cellulose

Posted on April 27,2015 by GBA Team in cellulose

GBA has released two new videos: one on installing dense-packed cellulose in stud cavities, and the other on sealing duct seams with mastic. Both videos were recorded in March 2013 at NESEA's Building Energy 13 conference in Boston.

Designing Superinsulated Walls

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-961160 in cellulose

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a [no-glossary]Passivhaus[/no-glossary] in Maine. This is the 12th article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.] I’ve always enjoyed watching new homes being built. From the humble beginnings of a simple hole in the ground, a job site gradually changes as a succession of tradesmen arrive daily to craft concrete, lumber, roofing, windows, drywall, copper pipes into basic shelter, before giving way to a parade of cabinets, appliances and other finishing touches.

Fiberglass versus Cellulose

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-1048334 in batt

The two least expensive and most commonly used residential insulation are fiberglass and cellulose. Granted, fiberglass is about 50 times more common — but a distant second is still second. Unless the homeowner opts for spray foam, the insulation choice usually comes down to fiberglass vs. cellulose. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of each one? How are they similar and how are they different?

Advice from a Homeowner

Posted on April 27,2015 by cSTRvsGi6T in blown insulation

Working at Home Energy magazine would seem to have prepared me for having an energy-efficiency retrofit done on my own home, or at least to ask all the right questions. But Murphy’s Law intruded nevertheless, and you may learn from my experience.

Can Cellulose be Used in an Unvented Roof?

Posted on April 27,2015 by ScottG in cellulose

Dean Manoogian has a Cape Cod style house in Portland, Maine, and is puzzling over the best way to retrofit the roof with rigid foam insulation. Working with both an insulation company and a roofing contractor, Manoogian has come up with a plan: apply 2-in. rigid foam on the interior of the dormered roof and then fill the rafter bays with dense-packed cellulose.

A Passivhaus Design for Alaska’s Frigid Climate

Posted on April 27,2015 by Fretboard in Alaska

Residential builders in Alaska have at least two major sources of motivation to build homes efficiently and with first-rate performance characteristics. One is the short building season. The other, of course, is Alaska’s Arctic cold. But for general contractor Thorsten Chlupp, whose firm, Reina LLC, is based in Fairbanks, yet another motivator came into play when he set out to build his family’s 2,300-sq.-ft. home to operate without fossil-fuel heat sources and conform to the Passivhaus standard: building-industry experts told him it couldn’t be done.

How to Install Cellulose Insulation

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in cellulose

In some parts of the U.S. — notably northern New England — cellulose insulation has been widely used for more than 30 years. In other parts of the U.S., however, cellulose insulation is just beginning to gain traction. Of course, cellulose insulation is installed with different techniques than those used to install fiberglass batts or spray foam. To help explain these techniques to builders who are unfamiliar with cellulose, we decided to interview Bill Hulstrunk, the technical manager at National Fiber, a manufacturer of cellulose insulation in Belchertown, Massachusetts.

The Insulation Empire Strikes Back

Posted on April 27,2015 by CarlSeville in Batt insulation

I was amused, and maybe a little surprised, to find a snail mail, printed letter from NAIMA, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, in my mailbox recently. This letter, signed by the executive vice president and general counsel, was in response to my earlier post regarding batt insulation. Here is the text of the letter. Please forgive any errors, as it was scanned and run through an OCR program. REGULAR MAIL

Is There a Downside to Lumpy Attic Insulation?

Posted on April 27,2015 by ab3 in attic insulation

If your attic is going to have 50 bags of insulation blown into it, does it make much of a difference if it goes in flat or lumpy? One reason that I'm interested in the question is that my dissertation in grad school was called “Flat or Lumpy.” (Of course, it had the requisite incomprehensibility in the subtitle, with words like “heteroepitaxy.”) Those two words in the title, which cut to the heart of what my surface physics research was all about, also describe a property of insulation that's important in building science.

Green Basics Insulation Overview
Green Basics Insulation Choices

Cellulose Insulation

Posted on April 27,2015 by AlexWilson in cellulose

Insulation is our number-one line of defense against high heating costs, and my favorite type of insulation is cellulose. Along with its effectiveness at slowing heat flow, cellulose insulation is a green product — made mostly out of an abundant waste product: old newspaper.

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