Green building websites can be confusing. One site might tell you that a green home should include spray foam insulation, a tankless water heater, and a geothermal heating system. After you’ve absorbed this advice, you visit another website, where you learn that spray foam is a dangerous petrochemical, tankless water heaters are overpriced gadgets, and “geothermal” systems aren’t really geothermal.
Eventually someone tells you that you can usually trust advice from Green Building Advisor. After reading a few GBA articles, you start to feel more comfortable. But it only takes a few clicks to end up deep in a thicket, even here at GBA. In no time at all, you are stumbling again.
One GBA article explains that a good way to ventilate your house is with a central-fan-integrated supply ventilation system. Hunh?
Another article advises you to aim for 1.5 ach50. What’s that?
Still another article talks about a type of insulation that is air-impermeable but vapor-permeable. At this point, you’re probably tempted to go back to the website that told you to buy a tankless water heater. At least that advice was easy to understand.
But still, you keep on studying. This type of reading is painful, like learning ancient Greek, but you know that there’s a prize at the end of the tunnel: someday, you’ll finally understand Homer’s wine-dark sea — or at least be able to talk to your builder intelligently.
So you practice pronouncing “polyisocyanurate,” and then you go to your local lumberyard and order some from the guy behind the counter. He answers, “Poly what? Never heard of it.” (This actually happened to me a few years ago.) At that point, you don’t trust any information found on the web, and you’re probably ready the throw in the towel.…