deep energy retrofit

What We Started With

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-1095434 in deep energy retrofit

In June 2013, Jill and I moved into our new house in West Tisbury on the island of Martha's Vineyard. This house has an interesting history. The owner of the place had been living on the lot in a structure that began its life as the body of a box truck. It was 8'x16' and had a small attached shed that housed the water pressure tank and the water heater. A small gambrel loft had been built on top; I could just barely sit up inside.

Net-Zero Energy on a Mass Scale

Posted on April 27,2015 by ScottG in deep energy retrofit

A project called Transition Zero is retrofitting 111,000 public housing units in the Netherlands for net-zero energy performance, with homeowners swapping their heating and power bills for loan payments that cover the cost of the work. In the end, it will cost these families no more to live in the newly refurbished, net-zero houses than it did when they were paying for heating, lights, and hot water. "The refurbishments are financed [by] the energy cost savings," says the project's website.

The ‘Lock-In’ Concept and Passivhaus Construction

Posted on April 27,2015 by Matt_GOLogic in deep energy retrofit

Alan Gibson (my GO Logic colleague) and I just returned from the 18th annual International Passive House Conference in Aachen, Germany. This incredible three-day conference featured some of the superstars in the Passivhaus community as well as influential European policy makers, including Dr. Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Passivhaus Institut.

Moving to a New House

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-1095434 in deep energy retrofit

Jill and I got hitched on June 2, 2013, on the beach at the Gay Head Cliffs on Martha's Vineyard. We then spent the next 7 1/2 days packing up our possessions at our old house at Island Cohousing in preparation to moving to our new place. We closed on the old house on June 10th. Not a recommended honeymoon.

Deep Energy Retrofits Are Often Misguided

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in deep energy retrofit

All through the 1980s and 1990s, a small band of North American believers worked to maintain and expand our understanding of residential energy efficiency. These were the pioneers of the home performance field: blower-door experts, weatherization contractors, and “house as a system” trainers. At conferences like Affordable Comfort, they gathered to share their knowledge and lick their wounds. These pioneers understood what was wrong with American houses: They leaked air; they were inadequately insulated; they had bad windows; and their duct systems were a disaster.

A German Deep-Energy Retrofit

Posted on April 27,2015 by Andrew Dey in deep energy retrofit

I recently visited a job site on the outskirts of Berlin that had previously caught my eye. Although the buildings were shrouded in the usual scaffolding and screening, I had noticed while biking by that the work involved “energetische sanierung,” or energy retrofitting.

Air Leaks in Homes Insulated With Spray Foam

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-1072052 in air barrier

If you’re retrofitting a vintage brick building without an air barrier, don’t count on the spray foam to create a perfect air seal. If you plan to use the spray foam as your air barrier, it's important to test your work before you cover it with drywall so you can seal any air leaks.

Wrapping an Older House with Rock Wool Insulation

Posted on April 27,2015 by Verdeco in deep energy retrofit

When I first met Chris Gleba and Kris Erickson in December 2011 to discuss their plans for a deep energy retrofit, Chris told me that he had been remodeling his modest two-bedroom house in Lowell, Massachusetts, for over ten years. He had painstakingly rewired and re-plumbed the house and had made energy efficiency improvements (including the installation of a high-efficiency natural gas boiler and radiant in-floor heating). He had also devoted much sweat equity towards upgrading the interior finishes of the kitchen and baths.

Extending Window Openings for a Deep Energy Retrofit

Posted on April 27,2015 by AlexWilson in deep energy retrofit

A few weeks ago I reported on the amazing, high-tech Alpen, R-12 (center-of-glass) windows that we installed on the north and west facades of our farmhouse in Dummerston, Vermont. At that time I promised to report on the other windows we were installing on the south and east facades (windows 2.0 if you will).

Window Installation Tips for a Deep Energy Retrofit

Posted on April 27,2015 by JoelSchuman in deep energy retrofit

In May 2011 we began a deep energy retrofit of our old, cold, drafty house in Saugerties, New York. Because the house was poorly and cheaply built in the 1840s (apparently from scraps and salvage), we were leery of opening up the walls from the outside, lest we find that the clapboard siding and incomplete sheathing were all that had kept the house from collapsing.

Getting Off Fossil Fuels

Posted on April 27,2015 by AlexWilson in air-source heat pump

There are a lot of things not to like about fossil fuels. Most obviously, the burning of oil, natural gas, propane, and coal releases huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it traps heat through the greenhouse effect.

A Real Chainsaw Retrofit

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in Chainsaw retrofit

When workers need to insulate the walls and roof of an existing building with exterior rigid foam, it often makes sense to cut off the roof overhangs first. With the eaves and rakes removed, wrapping the building in rigid foam is a snap. The missing roof overhangs can later be rebuilt by scabbing the necessary framing on the outside of the foam.

The High Cost of Deep-Energy Retrofits

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in deep energy retrofit

How much does it cost to perform a deep-energy retrofit at a 100-year-old single-family home? Thanks to a recent study in Utica, New York, we now know the answer: about $100,000.

The research was sponsored by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), an agency that administers programs funded by public benefit charges tacked onto electric utility bills. The program paid for deep-energy retrofits at four wood-framed buildings in Utica, New York.

Another UK Victorian Gets a Passivhaus Makeover

Posted on April 27,2015 by Fretboard in Association for Environment Conscious Building

Considering the abundance of aged homes in Britain, and the emergence of UK-based designers and builders with energy efficiency mind-sets, there are bound to be retrofits that test the practical limits of what can be done to improve the performance of a building that is really, really old.

Is the Green Movement Just Spinning Its Wheels?

Posted on April 27,2015 by ScottG in climate change

For GBA senior editor Martin Holladay, it all started with a column in The New York Times provocatively titled “Going Green But Getting Nowhere.” The author, Gernot Wagner, contends that individuals can make no meaningful impact on reducing carbon emissions and staving off global climate change. Even if each of the 1 billion Catholics on Earth decreased their emissions to zero overnight, Wagner writes, “the planet would surely notice but pollution would still be rising.”

More Job Site Visits in Maine

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in co-housing

On my second day in Maine, I toured seven energy-efficient buildings in various stages of construction. In last week’s blog, I reported on my visit to Richard Renner’s office and Jesse Thompson’s house. This blog picks up the story with a report on my visit to three sites: an ongoing deep-energy retrofit project, a new home in Falmouth, and an unusual co-housing project. If you're the type of reader who prefers pictures to words, you're in luck: this week's blog is loaded with photos.

Visiting Energy-Smart Designers and Builders in Maine

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in deep energy retrofit

I recently spent a couple of days in Maine, where I visited with an active group of energy-conscious architects and builders. My tour of seven job sites facing Casco Bay in the Atlantic Northeast nicely balanced my tour of several job sites facing the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest in March.

A Deep-Energy Retrofit in Northwest Vermont

Posted on April 27,2015 by Fretboard in David Pill

The last time the three-bedroom home in Hinesburg, Vermont, saw extensive contractor attention was in the early 1970s, when the house was built. Recently, though, David Pill and his team at Pill-Maharam Architects, in Shelburne, Vermont, joined Conner & Buck Builders, of Bristol, to put the house through a deep-energy retrofit. As Pill noted in an email to GBA, the house was “the perfect candidate” for the transformation.

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