A Tinkerer’s Quest for Green Perfection

Posted on April 19,2015 by ScottG in compost

It was Eric Brattstrom's interest in a far-fetched scheme to heat his chicken coop with compost that eventually landed him in the Home & Garden section of the The New York Times, but the story turns out to be a lot more interesting than how to keep chickens warm in winter.

Foundations — Part 2

Posted on April 19,2015 by ChrisBriley in basement

Phil and I have returned to continue our discussion on foundations. In Part One, we covered slabs and frost walls, and in this part we cover basements and crawl spaces.

The Highlights:

**Do you really need a basement?** If there's no programmatic need for a basement (like the need for a workshop), then perhaps you can do without one. **Insulation: Inside or outside?** There are many reasons to insulate on either side. We weigh the pros and cons.

Net-Zero Communities Sprout in New York

Posted on April 19,2015 by ScottG in Greenhill

Anthony Aebi lost his appetite for conventional construction in 2006. Working on his own house, he was discouraged by the quality of the construction details he saw. He says that he realized that, in the grand scheme of things, the house probably wasn’t going to last that long.

All About Thermal Mass

Posted on April 19,2015 by user-756436 in AAC

UPDATED on December 4, 2013 with a citation of recent research findings. What’s the deal with thermal mass? Since manufacturers of materials that incorporate concrete often exaggerate the benefits of thermal mass, it’s easy to get cynical and conclude that the buzz around thermal mass is all hype. But in many climates, it’s actually useful to have a lot of thermal mass inside your house. Just keep in mind that thermal mass may not be as beneficial as its boosters pretend.

Placing Concrete In Our ICF Foundation Walls

Posted on April 19,2015 by user-961160 in basement

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a [no-glossary]Passivhaus[/no-glossary] in Maine. This is the 23rd article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

A Net-Zero-Energy Home in Rural Tennessee

Posted on April 19,2015 by ab3 in blower door

On my thousand-mile quality assurance road trip last week, I visited a house that was designed to produce more energy than it uses, making it a net zero energy home. You can take any house all the way to net zero just by giving it enough on-site power production (photovoltaics, wind, hydropower...), but that's not the most effective way to achieve the goal of net zero energy use. First, you want to make the house really efficient, and that's what these folks did.

Does R-Value Trump Thermal Mass?

Posted on April 19,2015 by ScottG in ICF

Jesse Lizer’s plans for a new house in Climate Zone 6 call for a 60-foot long walkout basement wall on the north side. The three below-grade foundation walls will be built with insulated concrete forms (ICFs) with an R-value of roughly R-25.

Should Insulated Concrete Forms be Air-Sealed?

Posted on April 19,2015 by ScottG in air sealing

Roger Lin is planning to use insulated concrete forms in a house he hopes will meet the Passivhaus standard of 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals (ACH50). ICFs are rigid foam building blocks stacked like Legos and then filled with concrete. Lin has been told by ICF manufacturers they won't need air-sealing, but he's not so sure.

In Britain, Carving a Low-Cost Path to Zero-Carbon Homes

Posted on April 19,2015 by Fretboard in Britain

Arthur Bland, a U.K.-based project manager for ICF manufacturer Logix, says construction costs for homes that meet the zero-carbon-emissions performance standards established by Britain’s Climate Change Act don’t necessarily have to be budget-busting. In fact, such homes don’t have to cost a penny more than conventionally constructed dwellings with comparable features, he says.

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