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Green Building Materials 101: A Syllabus Supplement

Posted June 17, 2015 9:22 AM by
Related Categories: BuildingGreen's Top Stories

College professors: here’s a curriculum module for introducing students to healthier and lower-impact products and materials using BuildingGreen articles.

Intended for design professionals, BuildingGreen provides an independent “living textbook” that integrates perfectly with green building courses while exposing students to the most cutting-edge sustainability strategies and real-world green building case studies.

The first half of the course goes topic by topic, while the second half goes product category by product category, using MasterFormat indexing. These can be broken into two eight-week mini-courses as needed.

Here we offer an Intro to Green Materials curriculum especially formulated for institutions that have access to the following articles through a campus-wide BuildingGreen subscription.

Don’t have a subscription yet? Find out how to get a no-strings-attached free trial for your campus.

Week 1—Welcome and Introductions

Lecture: Green building is about a lot more than products and materials

Video: TED Talk by William McDonough on Cradle to Cradle design

Readings:

Sustainable Design 101: A Syllabus Supplement

Posted June 11, 2015 4:06 PM by Paula Melton
Related Categories: BuildingGreen's Top Stories

College professors: here’s a curriculum module you can use to introduce students to sustainable design using BuildingGreen articles.

Intended for design professionals, BuildingGreen provides an independent “living textbook” that integrates perfectly with sustainable design courses while exposing students to the most cutting-edge sustainability strategies and real-world green building case studies.

Here we offer an Intro to Sustainable Design curriculum especially formulated for institutions that have access to the following articles through a campus-wide BuildingGreen subscription.

Don’t have a subscription yet? Find out how to get a no-strings-attached free trial for your campus.

Introduction to Sustainable Design: Syllabus and Assigned Readings

Week 1—Welcome and Introductions

Lecture: Introduction to the green building movement

Video: PBS Architecture 2030 Ed Mazria – Design e2

Readings:

What Is a Hygrothermal Building Assessment?

Posted April 29, 2015 11:06 AM by Peter Yost
Related Categories: BuildingGreen's Top Stories

pete mugPeter Yost

Hygro refers to water, and thermal refers to heat. In buildings, you really can’t manage heat without also managing moisture. For example, if you increase how much insulation is in a wall, you may also be increasing the risk of moisture and mold problems.

There are four ways that buildings can get wet:

  • bulk water leaks (rain dripping through a hole in your roof)
  • wicking (groundwater being pulled up through a concrete foundation)
  • air leaks (condensation inside a wall assembly)
  • vapor diffusion (high interior relative humidity in the winter; high exterior relative humidity in the summer)

 And there are just three ways they can dry when they get wet:

  • drainage (intentional spaces between building components)
  • air flow (convective drying, like your hair dryer)
  • evaporation (low relative humidity and adding the sun for drying)

Frankly, four against three can add up to less than the greatest odds for drying.

Leaders in Sustainable Design Speaking at AIA Convention 2015

Posted April 27, 2015 2:48 PM by Alana Fichman
Related Categories: AIA Convention, BuildingGreen's Top Stories

Looking for the greenest updates at Convention this year? Here is our quick roundup.

Image: The AIAAs architects and other design professionals from around the nation gather in Atlanta this week, they will find that the gap between design and sustainable design is narrower than ever. But if you are looking for the greenest talks of them all, look no further! Many of today’s greatest minds in sustainable design will be sharing their stuff—with everything from specifying healthier building materials to the latest on resilient design leadership to geeking out on energy modeling.

Don’t see your sustainability-related session here? Add it in the comments below! Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, May 13

Transforming Firm Culture and Process; Embracing Sustainability and Getting to 2030

Nadav Malin, Barbra Batshalom, Betsy del Monte

8:30 a.m.– 5:30 p.m., All Day Workshop, WE205, Room B304

 

How To Specify Healthy Building Materials

Mike Manzi, Stacey Glass, Tom Lent, Bill Walsh, Russell Perry

A new round of online BAC Sustainable Design courses is starting up soon. Going out in the polar vortex is not a prerequisite.

Learn about resilience features—like the biomimicry of this HOK-designed orphanage in Haiti—without having to actually face the elements? Sounds good to me. Photo: HOK.I’m about to start teaching another round of my online course, Resilient Design, at Boston Architectural College (BAC), and this provides an opportunity to reflect on teaching at BAC and, more broadly, the online instruction in sustainable design offered through this program.

20 excellent online courses

I first started teaching at BAC in 2005, when the college’s online instruction program in sustainable design was just getting under way. At that time, BuildingGreen partnered with BAC to help design the curriculum, find the best instructors available, and promote the courses being offered.

Early on, when we had just a handful of courses, I taught Sustainable Design as a Way of Thinking, a course now being ably taught by my friend David Foley. Today, the online offerings totaling almost 20 courses are housed in BAC’s Sustainable Design Institute.

Have You Been Conflating Water with Energy? Here Are 5 Reasons to Stop

Posted March 2, 2015 11:02 AM by Nadav Malin
Related Categories: BuildingGreen's Top Stories

Until we stop talking about water as if it’s a clone of energy, water won’t get the respect it deserves or the attention it needs. Two sessions at NESEA’s BuildingEnergy ’15 conference, “Reinventing the Water Grid” parts one and two, are out to change that.

Photograph by Mike Peel, mikepeel.net. CC BY-SA 4.0.Policy wonks have been saying for years that water is THE critical resource on our planet—even more so than energy. Yet the time and attention that we devote to water remains a fraction of that we allot to energy.

I think that the problem is that we tend to talk about water conservation and efficiency as if water is just a clone of energy. Water and energy are similar in many ways, but there are key differences; until we appreciate these differences and embrace water on its own terms, we’ll continue to dis it.

Here are the five key differences that are confusing our approach:

A Virtual Mastermind Group for Material Vetting

Posted February 17, 2015 2:58 PM by Paula Melton
Related Categories: BuildingGreen's Top Stories

Want help researching and screening products for LEED v4 or the LBC Red List? Use this forum to share your questions and frustrations as well as your successes and advice.

By Paula Melton

Our recent webcast, Deep Material Vetting That Won’t Chew Through Your Design Budget, included a “homework” assignment: Chris and Scott of Re:Vision Architecture asked everyone to vet three to five materials they’re considering using in a current project.

Expecting that this exercise would lead to frustrations as well as triumphs, we have set aside this space as a forum for you to share how your research is going. Whether your project is pursuing WELL, LEED, Living Building Challenge, a different certification, or no certification at all, let’s help each other out and make the process easier for everyone.

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to create a free BuildingGreen login in order to post comments.

Be kind, and good luck!

p.s. Want to do some background reading on material vetting before you jump into the deep end? Check out these resources.

A View from Inside the Climate March

Posted September 22, 2014 12:31 PM by Nadav Malin
Related Categories: BuildingGreen's Top Stories

Maybe, if enough of us March, and plan, and make smart choices, we’ll have a chance at beating this thing. 

Photo: Nadav MalinI’m not a frequent social activist. In fact, I haven’t been to a major rally since my college days. But when my teenage daughter gets excited about something I care about, I'm all in! And she was getting excited by the social media buzz about the People's Climate March. So, with some last minute scrambling, I headed down to NYC with family and friends to the big March.

By the time we succumbed to the FOMO (fear of missing out) and started making plans, the buses from our region were sold out, so we drove from Brattleboro to Manhattan. Driving to a climate march?? At least we had a full car (5 people), getting 40 mpg—so our 200 passenger-miles-per-gallon wasn’t that much worse than a full coach bus, at about 275 passenger-mpg.

Photo: Nadav Malin

Foam-In-Place Insulation: 7 Tips for Getting Injection and Spray Foam Right

Posted August 18, 2014 12:16 PM by Peter Yost
Related Categories: BuildingGreen's Top Stories

Quality installation of the two types of site-manufactured foam insulation is no easier than fiberglass batt and no less important. Here is how to avoid the most common problems.

By Peter Yost

There are two ways to site-install foam insulation: injection and spray. Injecting foam is most often done in closed cavities in retrofit applications; spray foam is most often done in open cavities and in new construction. The formulations and methods of installation are different for closed-cavity and open-cavity foam installations. Photos: Henri Fennel (L); Peter Yost (R)There are two ways to site-install foam insulation: injection and spray. Injecting foam is most often done in closed cavities in retrofit applications; spray foam is most often done in open cavities and in new construction. The formulations and methods of installation are different for closed-cavity and open-cavity foam installations. Photos: Henri Fennel (L); Peter Yost (R)One of my first research projects when I started at the NAHB Research Center in 1993 was looking into a new insulation: Icynene. We were evaluating its performance as a spray-applied, open-cavity insulation as well as an injection foam in closed cavities. I was enamored: this seemed to be a miracle insulation that installed itself, sealing up tight even in the toughest and most complicated building cavities.

At about the same time, the NAHB Research Center was developing an installation quality program for fiberglass batt insulation, notoriously difficult to get installed right. I scoffed; we would never need that for these foam-in-place systems!

Twenty-plus years later, it’s clear how wrong I was. What looked as easy as point-and-shoot with the foam gun has a lot of complexity. As insulation consultant Henri Fennell recently said to me, “Properly installing site foam insulation is way more challenging than fiberglass batts. It’s partly because performance expectations are high and partly because you are actually manufacturing onsite.”

Fennell has been injecting and spraying polyurethane foam insulation for more than 40 years. I recently got the chance to spend quite a bit of time with him at the Energy Center of Wisconsin’s Better Buildings, Better Business conference. Here are Fennell’s seven top tips for ensuring that manufactured foam insulation jobs—both injection and spray—get done right.

Our Energy Solutions Have All Been Found

Posted June 11, 2014 4:16 PM by Alex Wilson
Related Categories: Energy Solutions

Not really, of course. But after five-plus years I’m ending my weekly Energy Solutions blog to focus more on the Resilient Design Institute and re-making Leonard Farm back into a farm.

Our completed house and barn in the early morning light a few months ago.
Photo Credit: Alex Wilson

Transitions.

Back in June, 2008 I started writing a weekly column on energy for the Brattleboro Reformer, our local newspaper. I thought it would be fun to write a regular column on a topic that I’ve focused so much time on over the past 35-plus years. I was pretty confident that I could come up with enough topics to write a year’s worth of columns, and I thought some of the Reformer’s readers would appreciate such a column—geeky as it might be.

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