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Getting to Know Spider Insulation

Spray-applied fiberglass insulation offers huge benefits over fiberglass batts and even has some advantages over cellulose

Posted on Jul 25 2013 by Alex Wilson

We’ve just completed the installation of a relatively new and (at least in New England) little-known insulation material called Spider. As a reminder, the house we are renovating (really rebuilding) in Dummerston, Vermont, has provided an opportunity to try out dozens of innovative products and materials that I’ve long researched and written about in Environmental Building News.

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Image Credits:

  1. Alex Wilson

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Resilient Design: Dramatically Better Building Envelopes

A resilient home is a highly energy-efficient home that will maintain livable conditions even during power outages or interruptions in heating fuel

Posted on Jan 5 2012 by Alex Wilson

When most people think about resilience — resilience to storms, for example — they think only about resilience during the event. Equally important, if not more important, I believe, is resilience in the aftermath of that event. Hurricanes, ice storms, blizzards, wildfires, tornadoes, and other natural disasters not only have an immediate impact, for which we may or may not be able to prepare, but they often have a much longer-term impact, usually through extended power outages.

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Image Credits:

  1. Dan Whitmore

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Weatherization’s Home-Stretch Recovery

Even though the expanded Weatherization Assistance Program struggled out of the gate – and can always be improved – it has produced encouraging, credible results

Posted on Jan 3 2012 by Richard Defendorf

The Weatherization Assistance Program – which emerged as a major administrative challenge and political target after its budget vastly expanded under the federal stimulus bill – turns out to be meeting expectations.

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Image Credits:

  1. Government Accountability Office

Video Series: Exterior Insulation Retrofit — How To Strip Siding and Roofing

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Books on Insulation and Energy-Efficient Building

Book Reviews: Alex Wilson’s new insulation guide and JLC’s new book about building superinsulated homes

Posted on Dec 2 2011 by Martin Holladay

Two new books that might interest green builders recently caught my eye: The BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation Products and Practices by Alex Wilson and The JLC Guide to Energy Efficiency by the editors of The Journal of Light Construction.

Full disclosure: I was a minor participant in the creation of both books. At Wilson’s request, I reviewed portions of his manuscript before publication and provided feedback. I also wrote several of the articles appearing in the JLC book.

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Image Credits:

  1. BuildingGreen
  2. JLC

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Irish Passive House Raises Bar for Eco Design

Thick insulation and attention to airtightness help this new home in County Cork meet the Passivhaus standard

Posted on Dec 1 2011 by GBA Team

Reprinted with permission from Construct Ireland magazine.

Sally O’Leary says that when a site became available near the site of an old family home, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy it. She’d been looking for a site to build on with her husband John. “We always wanted energy efficiency, I think nowadays that’s something that people have to do," she says.

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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Construct Ireland

Video Series: Exterior Insulation Retrofit — Introduction

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BEopt Software Has Been Released to the Public

Designers of zero-energy homes can now download this useful cost-optimization software for free

Posted on Nov 4 2011 by Martin Holladay

UPDATED February 1, 2012

In 2004, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed BEopt, a software program that finds the least-cost solution to designing a zero-energy house. Now that the software developers — a team that includes Craig Christensen and Scott Horowitz — have spent seven years improving the program, it has finally been released to the public. The development of BEopt was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Image Credits:

  1. NREL

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How to Install Rigid Foam Sheathing

What you need to know to install polyisocyanurate, XPS, or EPS on the outside of your walls

Posted on Sep 30 2011 by Martin Holladay

UPDATED on July 20, 2015

What’s the best way to install foam insulation on the outside of a wall?

Although has published many articles and videos on the topic, we continue to receive frequent questions from readers asking how to install rigid foam 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. on exterior walls — so it’s time to provide a primer on the topic.

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Image Credits:

  1. Rob Wotzak

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Air Sealing With Sprayable Caulk

Two new brands of goop — Owens Corning EnergyComplete and Knauf EcoSeal — are designed to cut down on air infiltration

Posted on Sep 23 2011 by Martin Holladay

Homes insulated with fiberglass batts are leakier than homes insulated with cellulose or spray polyurethane foam. Until recently, fiberglass batt manufacturers shrugged off the damning air-leakage data, insisting that their batts could deliver the R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. promised on the packaging — and then changed the subject.

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Image Credits:

  1. Owens Corning
  2. Martin Holladay
  3. Knauf

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