Q&A: A Forum for Green Building Experts and Beginners

Q & A Instructions

[Click map to enlarge]

The GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com web site has a wealth of articles on a wide variety of construction topics. Before posting your question, you may want to check out the articles on this page: How To Do Everything. You just might discover an article there that provides the information you seek.

Please register for a free account or sign in to ask and answer green building questions.

If you want to post a question, the usual rules of courtesy apply:
1. Be nice.
2. If you can't be nice, be polite.
3. If you can't be nice or polite — well, please be brief.

To attach a photo or illustration: Under the box labeled “More explanation,” look for the words “File attachments.” Click that, and you should be able to attach a photo.

Thanks for joining the conversation!

14 Answers

Guidance for designing and building a low-lifetime-cost home in North Texas

My wife and I want to build (or buy) an energy efficient home in North Texas sometime in the next 5 years. We are not strongly attached to certifications, R-value-comparison-contests, or even a particular style of home. We just want to build something cost-effective that we can live in for the next 40 years without having to maintain high-income jobs to pay for the utility bills and mortgage. I have been doing a lot of research, but I wanted to get some expert opinions to help guide me in the right direction.

In General questions | Asked By Chase Johnson | May 16 15
4 Answers

Does this kneewall plan make sense?

I am in a 1915 Bungalow with sloping ceilings in each of four closets upstairs. I haven't demo'd yet, but I can guess what I'll find in terms of open joist cavities, etc.

My original plan was to demo the knee wall and spray foam the ceiling slope all the way down to the eave, but I just can't afford spray foam. So my tentative plan is to create an unconditioned kneewall area that can be used for storage.

Something about my plan seems a bit off, I'm wondering if I'm missing something big here.

I drew up a plan, I hope it shows up as an attachment.


In Green building techniques | Asked By Adam Sick | May 20 15
10 Answers

Inductive cooktops and peak electric loads

I've been reading Dana's explanations at GBA that peak electric loads are the primary reason for the total electricity capacity required of any given utility. I understand that devices like electric point of use water heaters will easily drive higher those peak electricity requirements for the grid infrastructure. What about inductive cooktops? My understanding, which is limited, is that they have a much higher peak electricity requirement than standard electric ranges.

In Green products and materials | Asked By Eric Habegger | May 19 15
50 Answers

Affordable Cold Climate

Does any one care to "Challenge" Building America?


Is there a "greener" and user friendly way to provide
An Affordable 3 bedoom 2 bath Home for a Cold Climate?

Optional Hint ... the 2nd floor can be re-arranged

In Energy efficiency and durability | Asked By John Brooks N.Texas Zone 3a | Jan 12 11
39 Answers

3-D Networks, Premature Shingle Failure and Ant Farms

In Energy efficiency and durability | Asked By John Brooks | Dec 17 11
7 Answers

Small super insulated house - grid tied or off grid?

Where is the $$ line today between grid tied and off grid? I’m talking to a retired nurse with a limited budget who wants to build an 800 SF, super insulated net zero home on a lot (in NH) which requires a long driveway (and therefore an expensive connection to the grid) . She will have low electrical plug loads. Does the Tesla Powerwall battery influence the decision?

In Energy efficiency and durability | Asked By Bob Irving | May 16 15
0 Answers

What new idea would you like to see pursued?

ORNL is running a competition for new ideas for building energy efficiency technologies. You can submit an idea or read and vote or comment on ideas that have been submitted. You have through the end of May to submit new ideas.


The leading idea right now is vacuum insulated panels that are plumbed to a central vacuum pump rather than being permanently sealed. Do you have a better idea than that?

Guidelines for ideas to submit, from their FAQ:
Innovative technical design ideas that are not yet prototyped

In General questions | Asked By Charlie Sullivan | May 19 15
1 Answer

How do I remove hydrostatic water pressure?

We purchased a home in central Missouri recently and we see evidence of slab/footing movement. The home is built halfway down a hill. It has a walkout basement with a large patio off the walkout. The downhill side of the walkout has risen about an inch. There is a perimeter drain along the front and down the downhill side until the foundation wall begins the step down toward the patio, so it covers the front and half of one side. If I extend the drain to the patio will that help with the water pressure? I need to mention that the soil is clay.

In General questions | Asked By John Beavers | May 19 15
14 Answers

Minisplit heat pump sizing issue

Hi All,

I am hoping someone can point me in the right direction.
We are thinking to add mini split ductless heat pumps to our existing 1550 sf raised ranch in Manchester NH. The house has good insulation for the age with R50 in the attic and 15 year old windows. It has 2x4 walls so not sure about R-value there. Currently have hot water baseboard heating system with 25 year old oil fired boiler and our oil consumption averages about 450 gal / year.

In Mechanicals | Asked By Alex Frost | May 13 15
6 Answers

CARB2 Kitchen Cabinets - Formaldehyde

Hi all, Last year we did a kitchen remodel (in California) and my cabinets are CARB2 compliant. I know this because I had some of the plywood independently tested. Post remodel we did an air test (sealed off from the rest of the home) and I'm getting a 150ppb reading for Formaldehyde. I'm dumbfounded by how this happening. Is it possible for CARB compliant cabinets to off gas this much Formaldehyde. Any ideas what else could be driving this? Thanks!

In General questions | Asked By Mike Miller | May 17 15
Register for a free account and join the conversation

Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!