Taxonomy Term http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/1791/Energy%20Solutions en 6 Ways Our Household is Saving Water—And Energy http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/6-ways-our-household-saving-water-and-energy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Saving energy isn’t only about using less electricity and fuel; it’s about saving water.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Kohler_Bancroft_showerhead_1614_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Kohler_Bancroft_showerhead_1614_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Our 1.75 <abbr title="Gallons per minute (gpm) is a measurement of the flow rate of water faucets and fixtures."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term1854">gpm</a></abbr> Kohler Bancroft showerhead.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">In this weekly blog, I’ve focused a lot of attention on the energy-saving measures at our new home—from the innovative insulation materials we used to the air-source <abbr title="A type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2404">heat pump</a></abbr> heating system and our top-efficiency <abbr title="A ventilation system that transmits heat from exhaust air to incoming fresh air."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2405">heat-recovery ventilator</a></abbr>. What I haven’t said much about are the measures we’ve taken to reduce water use and why these measures save energy as well.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/6-ways-our-household-saving-water-and-energy" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/6-ways-our-household-saving-water-and-energy#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:59:08 +0000 Alex Wilson 18517 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Urine Collection Beats Composting Toilets for Nutrient Recycling http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/urine-collection-beats-composting-toilets-nutrient-recycling <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Human urine collection and use provides a better way to recycle nutrients than use of <abbr title="Composting (or Nonwater) toilet systems are dry plumbing fixtures and fittings that contain and treat human waste via microbiological processes."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2304">composting toilets</a></abbr>.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Abe_Noe-Hays_5423_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Abe_Noe-Hays_5423_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Abe Noe-Hays of the Rich Earth Institute standing in front of a urine storage tank. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p>Just when you thought it was safe to enjoy this blog over a cup of coffee here’s an article on…urine?</p> <p class="Standard">Really?</p> <p class="Standard">Let me explain.</p> <p class="Standard">Urine is a largely sterile, nutrient-rich resource that can be used in fertilizing plants. In fact, according to the <a href="http://richearthinstitute.org/">Rich Earth Institute</a>, the urine from one adult in a year can provide the fertilizer for over 300 pounds of wheat—enough for nearly a loaf of bread per day.</p> <p class="Standard">The Rich Earth Institute is a Brattleboro, Vermont-based organization that’s at the leading edge of the little-known practice of urine collection and use—something that’s emerging in Sweden and a few other places. This past Friday night roughly 200 people gathered at the <a href="http://www.strollingoftheheifers.com/">Strolling of the Heifers</a>’ River Garden in downtown Brattleboro to hear Abe Noe-Hays and Kim Nace from the Rich Earth Institute, along with a New York City comedian/activist, Shawn Shafner, discuss the idea.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/urine-collection-beats-composting-toilets-nutrient-recycling" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/urine-collection-beats-composting-toilets-nutrient-recycling#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 18:20:12 +0000 Alex Wilson 18460 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Can This Man Reinvent Concrete? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/can-man-reinvent-concrete <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">A California company, Blue Planet, is reinventing concrete and envisions a world in which the 8 billion tons of concrete used each year sequester billions of tons of carbon dioxide.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Concrete_pour_1586_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Concrete_pour_1586_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Pouring the foundation for our Dummerston Home; someday soon, concrete may be able to sequester huge quantities of carbon.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I’ve been in the San Francisco <abbr title="A bay is a component of a standard, rectilinear building design. It is the open area defined by a building element such as columns or a window. Typically, there are multiple identical bays in succession."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2239">Bay</a></abbr> Area for the past week speaking at various conferences. (When I travel I try to combine activities to assuage my guilt at burning all the fuel and emitting all that carbon dioxide to get there. Between conferences, I’m now spending time with my daughter in Petaluma and Napa.)</p> <p class="Standard">I spent three days last week at <a href="http://www.ecobuildnetwork.org/buildwell-2014">BuildWell</a>, a small conference organized by my friend and colleague Bruce King, P.E. that is focused on “innovative materials for a greener planet.” The roster of presenters included such well-known thought leaders as Ed Mazria, FAIA of <a href="http://www.architecture2030.org/">Architecture 2030</a>, who is leading an effort to shift to zero-carbon buildings by 2030; John Warner, Ph.D., the father of <a href="http://www.warnerbabcock.com/">Green Chemistry</a>, which is transforming manufacturing by reducing toxicity; and Mathis Wackernagel, the founder of the <a href="http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/">Global Footprint Network</a>.</p> <p class="Standard">A less-recognized presenter (and attendee throughout the three days) was <a href="http://biodesign.stanford.edu/bdn/people/bconstantz.jsp">Brent Constantz, Ph.D</a>., the founder and CEO of Blue Planet and a professor at Stanford University. (Blue Planet has no website currently.) Little did I know how audacious Constantz’s plans are: to reinvent concrete, transforming it from one of the world’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide into one of the most important tools to sequester the carbon dioxide emitted from power plants.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/can-man-reinvent-concrete" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/can-man-reinvent-concrete#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 21:06:49 +0000 Alex Wilson 18417 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Our Green Home Cost a Lot, But Yours Doesn't Have To http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/our-green-home-cost-lot-yours-doesnt-have <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Our house cost a lot more than I would have liked, but many of the ideas used in it could be implemented more affordably.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Exterior_from_NE_1218_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Exterior_from_NE_1218_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>We picked up these two salvaged garage doors for $500 total—while new they would have cost $3,500 apiece. Using salvaged materials can save a lot of money.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">My wife and I tried out a lot of innovative systems and materials in the renovation/rebuild of our Dummerston, Vermont home—some of which added considerably to the project cost. Alas!</p> <p class="Standard">The <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/safe-all-electric-induction-cooking-try-home">induction cooktop that I wrote about last week</a> is just one such example.</p> <p class="Standard">For me, the house has been a one-time opportunity to gain experience with state-of-the-art products and technologies, some of which are very new to the building industry (like <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/7/30/Expanded-Cork-All-Natural-Rigid-Boardstock-Insulation/">cork insulation</a>, which was expensive both to buy and to install). We spent a lot experimenting with new materials, construction details, and building systems. While we haven’t tallied up all the costs, we think that the house came in at about $250 per square foot.</p> <p class="Standard">All this has raised the very reasonable question about <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2014/3/3/How-to-Build-Green-At-No-Added-Cost/">whether all this green-building stuff is only feasible for high-budget projects</a>.</p> <p class="Standard">So I’ve been thinking about what lessons from our project would be applicable to more budget-conscious retrofits. Here are some thoughts. (Also see our recent <em>EBN</em> feature article,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2014/3/3/How-to-Build-Green-At-No-Added-Cost/">How to Build Green At No Added Cost</a>.)</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/our-green-home-cost-lot-yours-doesnt-have" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/our-green-home-cost-lot-yours-doesnt-have#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 15:51:54 +0000 Alex Wilson 18403 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Safe, All-Electric "Induction" Cooking: Try This At Home http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/safe-all-electric-induction-cooking-try-home <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Induction cooktops respond quickly, avoid gas combustion, are tops in energy efficiency, and limit risk of burns.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Cooktop_1360_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Cooktop_1360_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Our induction cooktop blends in well with our matt-black Richlite countertop. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">One of our early decisions in the planning for our farmhouse renovation/re-build was to avoid any fossil fuels. If the State of Vermont can have a goal to shift 90% of our energy consumption to renewable sources by 2050, we want be able to demonstrate 100% renewables for our house today.</p> <p class="Standard">That decision meant using electricity, rather than propane, for cooking. Electric cooking was actually a very easy decision for us. When our daughters were very young, roughly 25 years ago, my wife and I replaced our gas range with a smooth-top electric range. I had read too many articles about health risks of open combustion in houses; I didn’t want to expose our children to those combustion products.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/safe-all-electric-induction-cooking-try-home" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/safe-all-electric-induction-cooking-try-home#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 16:14:41 +0000 Alex Wilson 18382 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Heat Pump Water Heaters in Cold Climates: Pros and Cons http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heat-pump-water-heaters-cold-climates-pros-and-cons <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">While a heat-pump water heater will save significant energy on a year-round basis, be aware that in a cold climate the net performance (water heating plus space heating) will drop in the winter.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/WaterHeater_February_2014.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/WaterHeater_February_2014.jpg" /></a> <strong>Electricity consumption by our GeoSpring <abbr title="A type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2404">heat pump</a></abbr> water heater in February. Note the spike mid-month when I switched the mode to "boost." <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: here</em></div> <p class="Standard"><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/picking-water-heater-solar-vs-electric-or-gas-just-beginning">We chose a heat pump water heater</a> for our new house, and as I've recently discussed here, there are a lot of reasons why you might be doing the same.</p> <p class="Standard">Using an <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2014/2/3/How-Air-Source-Heat-Pumps-Work/">air-source heat pump</a>, heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) extract heat out of the air where they are located to heat the water.</p> <p class="Standard">That means that a HPWH cools the space where it is located. That’s a good thing in the summer—it doubles as air conditioning—but in the winter it’s not so helpful. That’s especially the case in a cold climate in a house without a standard heating system.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heat-pump-water-heaters-cold-climates-pros-and-cons" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heat-pump-water-heaters-cold-climates-pros-and-cons#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 03:41:44 +0000 Alex Wilson 18366 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Picking a Water Heater: Solar vs. Electric or Gas Is Just the Beginning http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/picking-water-heater-solar-vs-electric-or-gas-just-beginning <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Why we opted for electric water heating over a solar water heater</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Geospring_1295_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Geospring_1295_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Our GeoSpring heat-pump water heater. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">As we build more energy-efficient houses, particularly when we go to extremes with insulation and air tightness, as with Passive House projects, water heating becomes a larger and larger share of overall energy consumption (see <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2011/8/30/Solar-Thermal-Hot-Water-Heating-and-Cooling/">Solar Thermal Hot Water, Heating, and Cooling</a>). In fact, with some of these ultra-efficient homes, annual energy use for water heating now exceeds that for space heating—even in cold climates.</p> <p class="Standard">So, it makes increasing sense to focus a lot of attention on water heating. What are the options, and what makes the most sense when we’re trying to create a highly energy-efficient house?</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/picking-water-heater-solar-vs-electric-or-gas-just-beginning" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/picking-water-heater-solar-vs-electric-or-gas-just-beginning#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 21:31:02 +0000 Alex Wilson 18301 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Commissioning Our Home's Heat-Recovery Ventilator http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/commissioning-our-homes-heat-recovery-ventilator <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">To function properly, any ducted HRV has to be balanced after installation</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Zehnder_Balancing_1181_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Zehnder_Balancing_1181_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Barry Stephens measuring the airflow through a ceiling register of our HRV.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">After <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-we-chose-our-heat-recovery-ventilator">choosing and installing</a> our state-of-the-art <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-we-chose-our-heat-recovery-ventilator">heat-recovery ventilator </a>(HRV), we completed a critical step in the installation of any <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2013/9/30/Choosing-Between-an-ERV-and-an-HRV/">HRV</a>: commissioning, including the critical step of balancing the air flow.</p> <p class="Standard">This is absolutely necessary to ensure proper operation and full satisfaction.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/commissioning-our-homes-heat-recovery-ventilator" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/commissioning-our-homes-heat-recovery-ventilator#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 23:08:57 +0000 Alex Wilson 18253 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com How We Chose Our Heat-Recovery Ventilator http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-we-chose-our-heat-recovery-ventilator <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Zehnder’s state-of-the-art HRV will provide years of service in providing fresh air with very low energy consumption.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Zehnder_Condensate_1146_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Zehnder_Condensate_1146_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Barry Stephens installing the condensate drain on our Zehnder ComfoAir 350 Luxe HRV. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Balanced ventilation requires two fans: one bringing fresh air into the house and one exhausting indoor air (see <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/6-ways-ventilate-your-home-and-which-best">6 Ways to Ventilate Your Home</a>). By balancing these two fans and the airflow through their respective ducts, the house is maintained at a neutral pressure—which is important for <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/hpba">avoiding moisture problems</a> or <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/3/26/Radon-Risks-and-Prevention/">pulling in radon</a> and other soil gases.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-we-chose-our-heat-recovery-ventilator" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-we-chose-our-heat-recovery-ventilator#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 03:06:09 +0000 Alex Wilson 18251 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com 6 Ways to Ventilate Your Home (and Which is Best) http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/6-ways-ventilate-your-home-and-which-best <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">How a green home really "breathes"</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Zehnder_1150_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Zehnder_1150_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Should a green home require a piece of ventilation equipment like our&nbsp;</strong><strong>Zehnder HRV?</strong></div> <div><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">One of the features in our new house that I’m most excited about barely raises an eyebrow with some of our visitors: the ventilation system. I believe we have the highest-efficiency <abbr title="A ventilation system that transmits heat from exhaust air to incoming fresh air."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2405">heat-recovery ventilator</a></abbr> (HRV) on the market—or at least it’s right up there near the top.</p> <p class="Standard">But first, a lot of people may be wondering, should a "green" home require mechanical ventilation? A lot of people might think that this is just the kind of energy-consuming system that homes should be getting away from—while cracking windows for fresh air.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/6-ways-ventilate-your-home-and-which-best" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/6-ways-ventilate-your-home-and-which-best#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 18:46:33 +0000 Alex Wilson 18231 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Cold Weather Tests the Limits of Our Mini-Split Heat Pump http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cold-weather-tests-limits-our-mini-split-heat-pump <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Testing the limits of the air-source <abbr title="A type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2404">heat pump</a></abbr> in our new house with this cold weather</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Interior_finished_1185_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Interior_finished_1185_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>The interior unit of our Mitubishi air-source heat pump. <em>Click photos to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">It’s been pretty chilly outside. A number of people have asked me how our air-source heat pump is making out in the cold weather. I wrote about ths system <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/electric-heat-comes-age-installing-our-mini-split-heat-pump">last fall</a>, well before we had moved in to our new home. Is it keeping us warm?</p> <p class="Standard">First, if you want to get up to speed on the surprising and counterintuitive nature of <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2014/1/31/How-Air-Source-Heat-Pumps-Work/">how an air-source heat pump works</a>, check out our primer on the topic—which includes a great diagram.</p> <p class="Standard">We’ve only been living in the house for a few weeks, but so far, so good. Our 18,000 <abbr title="A unit of energy consumed by or delivered to a building. A Btu is an acronym for British thermal unit and is defined as the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit, at normal atmospheric pressure. Energy consumption is expressed in Btu to allow for consumption comparisons among fuels that are measured in different units."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2258">Btu</a></abbr>/hour <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/productDetail.cfm?ProductID=5033">Mitsubishi mini-split heat pump</a>&nbsp;(MSZ FE18NA indoor unit and MUZ FE18 outdoor unit) is doing remarkably well in keeping us comfortable. We don’t have any oil or gas heating in the house, only the electric heat pump and a small wood stove that we’ve fired up twice so far.</p> <p class="Standard">The indoor heat pump unit is mounted on a wall next to our kitchen, and it’s been operating pretty steadily in this cold weather. (Even though we’ve heated with wood for decades and have all the wood we could ever use, I’ve been curious how the house will do just on electricity, so have refrained from using the wood stove.)</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cold-weather-tests-limits-our-mini-split-heat-pump" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cold-weather-tests-limits-our-mini-split-heat-pump#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 15:30:05 +0000 Alex Wilson 18145 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com On the Benefits of Online Learning http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/benefits-online-learning <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">With a new group of online BAC courses starting this week, I’m reminded of the benefits of learning—and teaching—from home.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/SanFrancisco_traffic_0930_Getty_Images.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/SanFrancisco_traffic_0930_Getty_Images.jpg" /></a> <strong>San Francisco <abbr title="A bay is a component of a standard, rectilinear building design. It is the open area defined by a building element such as columns or a window. Typically, there are multiple identical bays in succession."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2239">Bay</a></abbr> Area traffic. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Getty Images<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Truth be told, I was slow warming up to online instruction. Ten years ago, in early 2004, BuildingGreen was approached by <a href="http://www.the-bac.edu/">Boston Architectural College </a>(then Boston Architectural Center—but with the same acronym BAC) about collaborating on sustainable design curriculum. There is so much value in face-to-face instruction and student interaction, I thought, how could online instruction take its place?</p> <p class="Standard">But we did collaborate, helping BAC develop it’s Sustainable Design curriculum. And I created and for a number of years taught one of the foundation online courses for the program: “Sustainable Design as a Way of Thinking,” which is now being taught by my friend David Foley.</p> <p class="Standard">This assemblage of courses, now housed in BAC’s <a href="http://www.the-bac.edu/education-programs/the-sustainable-design-institute">Sustainable Design Institute</a>, offers the most comprehensive, accredited online instruction in sustainable design anywhere. There are nearly three dozen courses offered that can be taken as continuing education courses by anyone, taken as part of graduate degree programs, or taken as electives as part of a relatively new <a href="http://www.the-bac.edu/education-programs/school-of-design-studies/master-of-design-studies/distance-online-masters-sustainable-design">MDS (Masters in Design Studies) program in Sustainable Design</a> that is now in its third year.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/benefits-online-learning" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/benefits-online-learning#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 16:27:32 +0000 Alex Wilson 18139 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Look Under the Sea for Safe Nuclear Waste Storage http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/look-under-sea-safe-nuclear-waste-storage <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Yucca_Mountain_entrance_2006_Isaac_Breekken_AP.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Yucca_Mountain_entrance_2006_Isaac_Breekken_AP.jpg" /></a> <strong>Workers entering the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility in 2006.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Isaac Breekken, AP<br /></em></div> <h3 class="Standard">With nowhere on land to turn, we should look under the seabed for places to bury high-level nuclear waste</h3> <p class="Standard">For more than 30 years the nuclear industry in the U.S. and nuclear regulators have been going down the wrong path with waste storage—seeking a repository where waste could be buried deep in a mountain. Nevada’s <a href="http://www.nei.org/Issues-Policy/Nuclear-Waste-Management/Disposal">Yucca Mountain</a>&nbsp;was the place of choice until…it wasn’t.</p> <p class="Standard">Any time we choose to put highly dangerous waste in someone’s backyard, it’s bound to cause a lot of&nbsp;NIMBY opposition, even in a sparsely populated,&nbsp;pro-resource-extraction place like Nevada, and in the case of Yucca Mountain, powerful Nevada senator Harry Reid has hardened that opposition politically.</p> <p class="Standard">Aside from NIMBYism, the problem with burying nuclear waste in a maintain (like Yucca Mountain) or salt caverns (like New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns—an earlier option that was pursued for a while in the 1970s) is that the maximum safety is provided at day one, and the margin of safety drops continually from there. The safety of such storage sites could be compromised over time, due to seismic activity (Nevada ranks fourth among the most seismically active states), volcanism (the Yucca Mountain ridge is comprised mostly of volcanic tuff, emitted from past volcanic activity), erosion, migrating aquifers, and other natural geologic actions.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>A better storage option</strong></p> <p class="Standard">I believe a much better solution for long-term storage of high-level radioactive waste is to bury it deep under the seabed in a region free of seismic activity where sediment is being deposited and the seafloor getting thicker. In such a site, the level of protection would <em>increase</em>, rather than decrease, over time.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/look-under-sea-safe-nuclear-waste-storage" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/look-under-sea-safe-nuclear-waste-storage#comments Wed, 15 Jan 2014 20:35:19 +0000 Alex Wilson 18131 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Stay Safe When Using Space Heaters and Wood Stoves http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/stay-safe-when-using-space-heaters-and-wood-stoves <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Cold weather, when wood stoves are cranked up and portable electric space heaters are brought out of the basement and plugged in, is when most house fires occur</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Roxy_with_Tika_12-30-12_3960_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Roxy_with_Tika_12-30-12_3960_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Enjoying a wood stove on a cold winter day.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">The morning paper had yet another story about a destructive house fire—fortunately no fatalities (this time*), but the total loss of another home and another family’s belongings. And like many others, the culprit appears to have been the wood stove.</p> <p class="Standard">So many of the home fires we experience in Vermont result from trying to keep warm. Some have to do with faulty installation of wood heating equipment; many others result from improper operation of that equipment or management of the ash.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/stay-safe-when-using-space-heaters-and-wood-stoves" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/stay-safe-when-using-space-heaters-and-wood-stoves#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 23:43:04 +0000 Alex Wilson 18119 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com My Green Policy Wishlist for 2014 http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/my-green-policy-wishlist-2014 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Op-Ed </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="Standard">Six items on my policy wish-list for 2014 and beyond.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/20120125_yuba_0034_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/20120125_yuba_0034_LoRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Safe bicycle commuting and walking is high on my wish list for 2014.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Yuba Cargo Bikes<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">It's fun for me to dream about stuff—building products and materials—and how we can make that stuff greener. I recently wrote about <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/7-green-building-wishes-2014">7 wish-list items for greener building products and materials</a>. Today I want to talk policy—six changes we need in the public sphere to bring more sustainability to our built environment and beyond.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>1) Strengthen building codes by recognizing resilience</strong></p> <p class="Standard">I believe that the need for buildings and communities that can withstand heat waves, more intense storms, flooding, drought, and other effects of a changing climate—as well as problems wrought directly by our fellow humans (like terrorism)—point to the need for strengthening building codes and land-use regulations.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/my-green-policy-wishlist-2014" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Op-Ed http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/my-green-policy-wishlist-2014#comments Thu, 02 Jan 2014 13:53:20 +0000 Alex Wilson 18102 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com 7 Green Building Wishes for 2014 http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/7-green-building-wishes-2014 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Here are some green product developments I’d like to see in the New Year</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/GridStar_car_charging_0588_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/GridStar_car_charging_0588_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>A plug-in hybrid vehicle charged using a net-metered PV array at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. I want to see the market share of plug-in vehicles double next year. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I spend a lot of time writing about innovations in the building industry—the cool stuff that’s coming out all the time. But I also like to think about what’s needed: stuff that’s not (yet) on the market or performance levels not yet available.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>1) Rigid insulation with no flame retardants and insignificant global warming potential</strong></p> <p class="Standard">We've been highly critical of the brominated and chlorinated flame retardant chemicals added to nearly all foam-plastic rigid insulation today as well as the high-global-warming-potential blowing agents used in extruded polystyrene (see <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2013/6/27/Can-We-Replace-Foam-Insulation/">Can We Replace Foam Insulation?</a>). I would love to see affordable alternatives. They could be new formulations of polystyrene or polyisocyanurate that doesn’t require flame retardants or inorganic materials that are inherently noncombustible (see our review of <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2013/12/30/Innovative-Products-and-Technology-from-the-Greenbuild-Expo">cool new products from Greenbuild</a> for some advances). I’m intrigued by advanced ceramics and could imagine a foamed ceramic insulation being developed that meets these criteria.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/7-green-building-wishes-2014" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/7-green-building-wishes-2014#comments Thu, 26 Dec 2013 13:43:09 +0000 Alex Wilson 18043 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com NIMBYism Alert: Opposition to "Industrial" Solar Projects http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/nimbyism-alert-opposition-industrial-solar-projects <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Are we going to find the same NIMBY opposition to larger solar systems that we’re experiencing today with wind farms?&nbsp;<em><br /></em></h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Logan_PV_7847_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Logan_PV_7847_MedRes.jpg" /></a><strong><strong>The 197 kW solar array at Logan Airport in Boston—on the top level of the Terminal B parking garage. <em>Click to enlarge</em></strong><em>.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">When the economy-of-scale with wind power led to larger and larger wind turbines, opponents of these installations took to referring to them as “industrial wind power.” Whenever I see a letter-to-the-editor or news story that uses this identity I can tell that it’s going to have an anti-wind bias.</p> <p class="Standard">Whether its marring their views of pristine mountains, blighting their night sky with blinking red lights, causing bird and bat fatalities, or producing “infrasound” pollution, opponents almost universally refer to these wind farms using an industrial moniker.</p> <p class="Standard">So, I’m becoming troubled by recent reference to “industrial solar” in describing the larger photovoltaic (PV) installations that are cropping up in Vermont and nationwide. Some opposition seems to be emerging, for example, to a 2 megawatt (MW) array that’s being proposed for Brattleboro, and I’m hearing more and more such concerns nationally.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/nimbyism-alert-opposition-industrial-solar-projects" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/nimbyism-alert-opposition-industrial-solar-projects#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2013 21:18:19 +0000 Alex Wilson 18035 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Flywheels: A Cleaner Way of Stabilizing Our Electricity Grid http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/flywheels-cleaner-way-stabilizing-our-electricity-grid <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Beacon Power pushing the envelope and creating a more resilient utility grid with large-scale flywheel power storage</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Beacon_Power_4th_generation_flywheel.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Beacon_Power_4th_generation_flywheel.jpg" /></a> <strong>Schematic of Beacon Power's Energy Smart 25 flywheel.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Beacon Power<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">After I wrote last week about a company developing <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/solar-powered-microgrids-could-protect-us-power-outages">power grid electrical storage systems</a> using lithium-ion battery technology, a reader alerted me to another, very different approach for storing electricity to make the utility grid more stable and <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/2/28/Resilient-Design-Smarter-Building-for-a-Turbulent-Future/">resilient</a>: flywheels.</p> <p class="Standard">We've written before about <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2009/12/1/Pentadyne-GTX-Backup-Power-from-a-Flywheel/">flywheel electrical storage for use in data centers </a>to provide instantaneous back-up power that can last for a few minutes until back-up generators can be started up. But I had not been aware of utility-scale projects that were in operation.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/flywheels-cleaner-way-stabilizing-our-electricity-grid" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/flywheels-cleaner-way-stabilizing-our-electricity-grid#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2013 00:53:05 +0000 Alex Wilson 18001 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Solar-Powered Microgrids Could Protect Us from Power Outages http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/solar-powered-microgrids-could-protect-us-power-outages <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Solar Grid Storage is at the forefront of efforts to use renewable energy to create a more resilient utility grid&nbsp;<em><br /></em></h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Solar_Grid_Storage_NavyYard_microgrid_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Solar_Grid_Storage_NavyYard_microgrid_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>The PowerFactor250 from Solar Grid Storage. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Solar Grid Storage</em></div> <p class="Standard">Last week I reported on <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/navy-yard-forefront-philly-s-green-rebirth">The Navy Yard in Philadelphia</a>, a remarkable 1,200-acre business campus with 300 companies employing 10,000 people—with as many as 35,000 employees projected eventually. What had attracted me to the facility was an innovative demonstration that’s been launched showing how solar-electric (PV) systems with battery back-up and smart controls can help to create a more resilient power grid.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/solar-powered-microgrids-could-protect-us-power-outages" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/solar-powered-microgrids-could-protect-us-power-outages#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2013 00:52:02 +0000 Alex Wilson 17998 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Navy Yard at the Forefront of Philly’s Green Rebirth http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/navy-yard-forefront-philly-s-green-rebirth <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3>Philadelphia’s Navy Yard is achieving&nbsp;robust economic development while demonstrating a wide variety of energy innovations</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Navy_Yard_0614_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Navy_Yard_0614_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>One of the restored, historic buildings at The Navy Yard that serves Urban Outfitters.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I’m just back from Philadelphia, where I spent most of last week at <a href="http://www.greenbuildexpo.org/home.aspx">Greenbuild</a>, the nation’s premier conference and expo focused on the burgeoning green building movement. I heard there were 25,000 attendees….</p> <p class="Standard">Several of us had the opportunity to visit The Navy Yard, which I had been hearing a lot about.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/navy-yard-forefront-philly-s-green-rebirth" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/navy-yard-forefront-philly-s-green-rebirth#comments Wed, 27 Nov 2013 02:27:00 +0000 Alex Wilson 17930 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Producing Ethanol From Corn Is a Bad Idea http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/producing-ethanol-corn-bad-idea <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Producing ethanol from corn is a bad idea not only because of the poor energy return on investment (EROI), but also because of the impact it is having on ecosystems in the Midwest</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Corn_Iowa_NRCSIA99104_LynnBetts_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Corn_Iowa_NRCSIA99104_LynnBetts_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Production of ethanol has dramatically increased acreage devoted to corn in the Midwest.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Lynn Betts, USDA-NRCS<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Corn-based ethanol as a vehicle fuel has never been a good idea. But an in-depth investigation by Dina Cappiello and Matt Apuzzo of The Associated Press, <a href="http://www.apnews.com/ap/db_289563/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=c9XqwWa7">published last week</a>, outlines a lot of other reasons why we should finally kill this particular farm subsidy.</p> <p class="Standard">Where did we get this idea to begin with? The U.S. is one of the most agriculturally rich nations in the world, and we’re also one of the world’s largest fossil fuel importers. It makes sense on some levels to convert some motor fuel to <abbr title="Generally, classification of products and materials derived from plant and animal sources as opposed to minerals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a program to promote the use of emerging biobased products that defines them more narrowly, to exclude products that already have established markets, such as food, animal feed, and lumber."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2243">biobased</a></abbr> sources, such as ethanol and biodiesel—because we can produce it ourselves, helping to wean our dependence on oil from the Middle East and other politically unstable or unfriendly places.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/producing-ethanol-corn-bad-idea" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/producing-ethanol-corn-bad-idea#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2013 02:08:13 +0000 Alex Wilson 17921 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Is There a Place for Vacuum Insulation in our Buildings? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/there-place-vacuum-insulation-our-buildings <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3><strong>For insulating our buildings, vacuum insulation panels may not be cost-effective, but they will become common in other applications</strong></h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Vacuum_insulation_Microtherm_SlimVac_10330s_1MITH.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Vacuum_insulation_Microtherm_SlimVac_10330s_1MITH.jpg" /></a> <strong>Microtherm's vacuum insulation panel, with a microporous substrate covered with an impermeable aluminum skin. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Microtherm</em></div> <p class="Standard">I’ve recently worked on revising the <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/insulation-webcast">BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation Products and Practices</a> (available as part of a webcast), so I’ve been steeped in all sort of insulation materials, including some oddball products. One of those is vacuum insulation—operating on the same principle as a Thermos bottle.</p> <p class="Standard">Vacuum insulation is a great idea—in theory. To understand why, it helps to know a bit about heat flow.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/there-place-vacuum-insulation-our-buildings" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/there-place-vacuum-insulation-our-buildings#comments Thu, 14 Nov 2013 01:19:41 +0000 Alex Wilson 17919 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Mineral Wool Insulation Entering the Mainstream http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/mineral-wool-insulation-entering-mainstream <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Owens Corning’s entry into the mineral wool insulation market with the purchase of Thermafiber, promises a higher profile for this insulation material</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/UltraBatt_0039_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/UltraBatt_0039_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Thermafiber's new UltraBatt mineral wool insulation is distributed nationally through Menards. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Thermafiber</em></div> <p class="Standard">I recently reported that <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/mineral-wool-boardstock-insulation-gaining-ground-homebuilding-world">a new mineral wool insulation product from Roxul</a>&nbsp;can be readily used in place of foam-plastic insulation materials like polystyrene in certain applications. As part of our ongoing research into how builders and designers can make better insulation choices (see our <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/mineral-wool-boardstock-insulation-gaining-ground-homebuilding-world">full webcast and report on the topic</a>), I have new mineral wool developments to report.</p> <p class="Standard">First, a little background: mineral wool, variously referred to as rockwool, slagwool, and stone wool, was one of the first insulation materials to be widely produced commercially—starting back in 1871 in Germany.</p> <p class="Standard"><a href="http://www.rockwool.com/"></a></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/mineral-wool-insulation-entering-mainstream" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/mineral-wool-insulation-entering-mainstream#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 03:00:21 +0000 Alex Wilson 17895 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Insulation Quiz: The No-Foam Challenge http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/insulation-quiz-no-foam-challenge <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> GreenSpec Insights </div> <div class="field-item even"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Op-Ed </div> </div> </div> <h3><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/stack_of_insulation.jpg" alt="How well do you know your insulation? Photo: BuildingGreen, Inc." title="How well do you know your insulation? Photo: BuildingGreen, Inc." class="image-right" height="239" width="300" />A lot of people are questioning the widespread use of foam insulation. Are you familiar with their concerns, and the upsides and downsides of alternatives?</h3> <p>What are all the environmental and health challenges presented by foam insulation products? What about the healthier substitutes? Are they ready for prime time?</p> <p>These are some of the questions tackled by our new report, and accompanying webcast and course,&nbsp;<a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/insulation-webcast">Choosing and Detailing Insulation for High-Performance Assemblies</a>. Even as more designers and builders are thinking twice about using rigid and spray-applied foam insulation, the alternatives to these products are sometimes misunderstood.</p> <p>Our pop quiz tests your knowledge of the application-specific challenges and opportunities of these materials. Score yourself, and then read our answers and explanations below.</p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/insulation-quiz-no-foam-challenge" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights Op-Ed http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/insulation-quiz-no-foam-challenge#comments Thu, 31 Oct 2013 18:01:39 +0000 Tristan Roberts 17827 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Formaldehyde-Based Foam Insulation Back from the Dead http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/formaldehyde-based-foam-insulation-back-dead <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3><abbr title="Urea formaldehyde is a combination of urea and formaldehyde that is used in some glues and may emit formaldehyde at room temperature."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2536">Urea formaldehyde</a></abbr> foam insulation (UFFI) has been out of the spotlight, but going into a lot of buildings—often being referred to as Amino Foam.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/cfiFOAM_CMU.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/cfiFOAM_CMU.jpg" /></a> <strong>Amino Foam is a highly flowable foam that can fill CMU cavities from below—rising as much as 18 vertical feet. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: cfiFOAM</em></div> <p class="Standard">In working on major updates and expansions to <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/insulation-webcast">Insulation Choices: What You Need to Know About Performance, Cost, Health and Environmental Considerations</a>, we’ve had an opportunity to dig into some of the insulation products out there that you don't hear so much about. Some of what we’re found has been surprising.</p> <p class="Standard">Anyone remember urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI)? Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s it was the ultimate bad guy of the insulation world. Installed in hundreds of thousands of homes in the U.S. and Canada following the 1973 Energy Crisis, UFFI was found to emit high levels of formaldehyde in some circumstances and shrink considerably, resulting in performance problems.</p> <p class="Standard">The Canadian government spent millions of dollars insulating 80,000 to 100,000 homes with this insulation, then spent many more millions uninstalling it when reports of problems emerged. Canada banned the product, as did the <a href="http://www.cpsc.gov/">Consumer Products Safety Commission </a>in 1982 in the U.S.—though the latter later reversed the ban a year later.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/formaldehyde-based-foam-insulation-back-dead" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/formaldehyde-based-foam-insulation-back-dead#comments Wed, 30 Oct 2013 20:05:48 +0000 Alex Wilson 17823 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Electric Heat Comes of Age: Installing Our Mini-Split Heat Pump http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/electric-heat-comes-age-installing-our-mini-split-heat-pump <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Installing a Mitsubishi air-source <abbr title="A type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2404">heat pump</a></abbr> in our new house</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Mitsubishi_indoor_unit_9973_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Mitsubishi_indoor_unit_9973_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>The indoor unit of our Mitsubishi minisplit heat pump. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Thirty-five years ago, when I first got involved with energy efficiency and renewable energy, the mere suggestion that one might heat with electricity would be scoffed at by those of us seeking alternatives to fossil fuels.</p> <p class="Standard">Amory Lovins, founder of the <a href="http://www.rmi.org/">Rocky Mountain Institute</a>, likened using electricity for heating to “cutting butter with a chainsaw.” Electricity is a high-grade form of energy; it doesn’t make sense to use it for a low-grade need like heating, he argued. It made much more sense, we all agreed, to produce that 75-degree warmth with solar collectors or passive-solar design.</p> <p class="Standard">So, it represents a bit shift that I’m now arguing that electricity can be the smartest way to heat a house. And that’s what we’re doing in the farmhouse we’re rebuilding in southern Vermont. I should note, here, that all of our electricity is being supplied by a solar array on our barn.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/electric-heat-comes-age-installing-our-mini-split-heat-pump" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/electric-heat-comes-age-installing-our-mini-split-heat-pump#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 03:48:56 +0000 Alex Wilson 17812 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Our Deck Is Made from Pallets—But It's Not What You Think http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/our-deck-made-pallets-its-not-what-you-think <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Viridian tropical hardwood decking is reclaimed from shipping materials—and it should last decades</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Front_porch_decking_0026_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Front_porch_decking_0026_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Installing Viridian decking on our front porch. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">We’re moving along with some of the wrap-up work on our house in Dummerston. One of those projects is installing the porch decking on both the front and rear porches and a handicapped ramp up from the garage to the back porch. (We plan to live there for a long time!)</p> <p class="Standard">For the decking, we used a product we recognized in our annual&nbsp;<a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/buildinggreens-top-10-products-2013">Top-10 Green Building Product </a>selection&nbsp;last year.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/our-deck-made-pallets-its-not-what-you-think" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/our-deck-made-pallets-its-not-what-you-think#comments Wed, 16 Oct 2013 01:40:35 +0000 Alex Wilson 17808 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Resilient Design on the U.N Agenda As It Prepares for Climate Change http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-un-agenda-it-prepares-climate-change <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">The United Nations, <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>, and resilient design: a day at the U.N. World Habitat conference</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/UN_ResilientDesign_conf_10-4-13_2_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/UN_ResilientDesign_conf_10-4-13_2_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>The UN assembly hall where we met. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">The <a href="http://www.unhabitat.org/categories.asp?catid=9">United Nations Human Settlements Programme</a>, or UN-Habitat, is a UN agency focused on human settlements. It was launched in 1978 following a meeting in Vancouver known as Habitat I, and it is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. A follow-up conference, Habitat II, was held in Istanbul, Turkey in 1996, and Habitat III is planned for 2016.</p> <p class="Standard">I had the honor of speaking last week at the UN World Habitat Day conference, “<a href="http://www.consortiumforsustainableurbanization.org/upcoming-2013.html">Resilient Design for Sustainable Urbanism</a>.” The event was cosponsored by the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.consortiumforsustainableurbanization.org/mission.html">Consortium for Sustainable Urbanism</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://main.aiany.org/">AIA New York</a>, and the&nbsp;<a href="http://centerforresilientdesign.org/">NJIT Center for Resilient Design</a>. (What's resilient design all about? See&nbsp;<a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/2/28/Resilient-Design-Smarter-Building-for-a-Turbulent-Future/">Resilient Design—Smarter Building for a Turbulent Future</a>.)</p> <p class="Standard">It was an amazing opportunity to see the United Nations; I think I was last there over 40 years ago. The UN Headquarters Complex is going through a major $2 billion facelift that includes many exciting green features that are supposed to achieve 50% energy savings, 40% water savings, and a 45% reduction in the carbon footprint…. But that’s not the focus of this column.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-un-agenda-it-prepares-climate-change" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-un-agenda-it-prepares-climate-change#comments Thu, 10 Oct 2013 02:27:16 +0000 Alex Wilson 17801 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com New Home Proves LEDs Are Ready to Supplant Older Lighting http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/new-home-proves-leds-are-ready-supplant-older-lighting <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">LED lighting has come a long way in a very few years and can now fully supplant incandescent and fluorescent technology</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/LTGCRSeriesDownlights_CR6625L_down.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/LTGCRSeriesDownlights_CR6625L_down.jpg" /></a> <strong>Cree's new CR6 LED downlight for recessed cans.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Cree</em></div> <p class="Standard">Our electrician was in last week installing lighting in our new home here in southern Vermont. Virtually all of our lighting will be <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2011/11/29/LEDs-The-Future-Is-Here/">LEDs—the state-of-the-art today in energy-efficient lighting</a>.</p> <p class="Standard">LED stands for “light-emitting diode.” It’s a solid-state lighting technology that converts electric current directly into visible light. LED lighting has far higher <abbr title="In lighting, the ratio of light output (in lumens) to input power (in watts). Higher efficacy indicates higher efficiency."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2353">efficacy</a></abbr> (the number of lumens of light output per watt of electricity consumed) than incandescent lighting—which converts roughly 90% of the electric current into heat; only 10% into light.</p> <p class="Standard">Most LED lights also have modestly higher efficacy than compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The recessed LED lights we installed have an efficacy of 66 lumens per watt, which is not to different from that of CFLs, but LEDs are much more directional than CFLs, so they work better in recessed cans in delivering usable light to where you need it.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/new-home-proves-leds-are-ready-supplant-older-lighting" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/new-home-proves-leds-are-ready-supplant-older-lighting#comments Wed, 02 Oct 2013 19:57:20 +0000 Alex Wilson 17786 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A Passive House Movement Grows in Brooklyn http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/passive-house-movement-grows-brooklyn <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">A three-unit condominium project under construction in Brooklyn is one of many Passive House projects that are springing up in the Borough</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/R951_8752_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/R951_8752_MedRes.jpg" /></a><strong>The unit on the right, constructed of ICFs, is expected to achieve Passive House certification</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I was in New York City over the weekend where I spoke at the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nesea.org/members/annualmeeting/">Annual Meeting</a>&nbsp;of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nesea.org/">Northeast Sustainable Energy Association</a>. What I most relished about the trip&nbsp;was an opportunity to explore a new infill housing project in Brooklyn that’s being built to Passive House standards and may well achieve net-zero-energy performance.</p> <p class="Standard"><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2010/3/31/Passive-House-Arrives-in-North-America-Could-It-Revolutionize-the-Way-We-Build/">Passive House is a certification system</a>&nbsp;that originated in Germany and has been picking up steam over the past few years in North America. To achieve certification, buildings must have modeled energy performance that does not exceed a very stringent limit for heating and cooling as well as total annual primary energy consumption below a specified threshold.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/passive-house-movement-grows-brooklyn" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/passive-house-movement-grows-brooklyn#comments Thu, 26 Sep 2013 02:55:09 +0000 Alex Wilson 17731 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Serenbe: A Solar-Powered Development Trying to Solve Car Dependence http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/serenbe-solar-powered-development-trying-solve-car-dependence <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">With EarthCraft certification being a requirement, energy performance of homes in Serenbe is relatively good; transit options being planned will also help save energy.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Serenbe_net-zero_7998_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Serenbe_net-zero_7998_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>The net-zero-energy Bosch Demonstration Home at Serenbe.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">After bringing some of the <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/serenbe-unique-green-town-making">unique features of Serenbe</a>, a New Urbanist community outside Atlanta, to you last week, today I’ll describe some of the energy features at the 1,000-acre development.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/serenbe-solar-powered-development-trying-solve-car-dependence" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/serenbe-solar-powered-development-trying-solve-car-dependence#comments Thu, 19 Sep 2013 01:44:30 +0000 Alex Wilson 17721 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Serenbe—A Unique Green Town in the Making http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/serenbe-unique-green-town-making <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Developer Steve Nygren is putting New Urbanist principles into practice at the Serenbe Community outside Atlanta</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Serenbe_houses_8015_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Serenbe_houses_8015_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>A wide range of architectural styles are represented at Serenbe. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I’m just back from Atlanta, where I spoke on Saturday at the new <a href="http://www.boschexperiencecenter.com/">Bosch Experience Center </a>located in the unique <a href="http://www.serenbecommunity.com/home.html">Serenbe Community </a>thirty miles southwest of Atlanta.</p> <p class="Standard">I gotta say, I was impressed!</p> <p class="Standard">Serenbe is the creation of <a href="http://www.serenbecommunity.com/founders.html">Steve Nygren</a>, who was kind enough to show me around and point out some of the community’s green features after my presentation. It is a 1,000-acre new town development that is one of the best examples in the country today of what a green development can be.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/serenbe-unique-green-town-making" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/serenbe-unique-green-town-making#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2013 15:33:04 +0000 Alex Wilson 17608 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com As Vermont's Only Nuke Plant Closes, Is a Green Economy Ready? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/vermonts-only-nuke-plant-closes-green-economy-ready <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">The pending closure of Vermont’s only nuclear plant will hurt the local economy, but it could catalyze sustainable economic development</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/VY_plant_US_Nuclear_Regulatory_Commission.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/VY_plant_US_Nuclear_Regulatory_Commission.jpg" /></a> <strong>The Entergy Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will be shut down in late 2014. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">The big energy news in my part of the world this past week has been the pending <a href="http://www.entergy.com/vy/">closure of Vermont’s only nuclear power plant, Vermont Yankee</a>, in Vernon, about six miles south of Brattleboro. The closure is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2014, at the end of the current fuel cycle.</p> <p class="Standard">For a lot of my friends, this was news that they had been hoping for for many years and a cause for celebration. I share with these individuals concerns about nuclear power, especially a fear that nuclear power plants could be targets for terrorist actions. So I feel some relief that after another year or so there won’t be new radioactive material generated ten miles from my house—though the high-level radioactive waste that’s stored onsite could remain there for decades.</p> <p class="Standard">But for me it’s a more complicated issue.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/vermonts-only-nuke-plant-closes-green-economy-ready" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/vermonts-only-nuke-plant-closes-green-economy-ready#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 15:15:26 +0000 Alex Wilson 17583 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A Heat Pump Using Carbon Dioxide as the Refrigerant http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heat-pump-using-carbon-dioxide-refrigerant <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">A new generation of <abbr title="Carbon dioxide"><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2298">CO2</a></abbr>-based heat pumps could avoid the high global warming potential of standard refrigerants and generate much higher temperatures</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Mayekawa_UNIMO_Australia_Dentention_Center_facility_2_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Mayekawa_UNIMO_Australia_Dentention_Center_facility_2_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>A Mayekawa Unimo air-to-water heat pump installation in Australia. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Mayekawa</em></div> <p class="Standard">In researching and writing about building products for <em><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/news/">Environmental Building News </a></em>over the past twenty-plus years I’ve had an opportunity to cover some fascinating breakthrough products and technologies. One such technology I was writing about a few weeks ago is the use of <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2013/7/28/Next-Up-in-Heat-Pump-Refrigerants-Carbon-Dioxide/">carbon dioxide as a working fluid for heat pumps</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">But let me back up with a little context about refrigerants. These are the fluids used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and heat pumps that transfer heat from one place to another in cooling or heating a space. This “vapor-compression-cycle” equipment takes advantage of the principle that compressing a gas absorbs heat and expanding it releases heat—so it’s a way to move heat from one place to another.</p> <p class="Standard">When this compression and expansion cycle results in a phase change (converting it from liquid to gas or vice-versa), significant heat can be absorbed and released.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heat-pump-using-carbon-dioxide-refrigerant" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heat-pump-using-carbon-dioxide-refrigerant#comments Wed, 28 Aug 2013 16:14:20 +0000 Alex Wilson 17525 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Access Ceilings: Replace Fixtures Without Cutting Into Drywall and Insulation http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/access-ceilings-replace-fixtures-without-cutting-drywall-and-insulation <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Paying attention to the various layers in a building envelope is critically important for ensuring air tightness and moisture management—and can be attractive, too.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/First_floor_ceiling_7598_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/First_floor_ceiling_7598_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Ducting for our HRV, electrical wiring, recessed lights, and plumbing fit into this access ceiling. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Air leakage and the integrity of i<a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/landing/insulation/">nsulation in energy-efficient houses</a> is a huge issue—more significant than many people realize. We can have the best of intentions with lots of insulation, but if we leave it leaky or include details that compromise the integrity of that insulation the home’s energy performance can be severely affected.</p> <p class="Standard">Take recessed ceiling lights, for example. From a design standpoint, they’re great, since the light source is roughly flush with the ceiling and all of the mechanism is hidden in the ceiling above (in recessed cans).</p> <p class="Standard">In a house with an unheated attic (insulation in the attic floor—which is the ceiling of the floor below) or with an insulated, sloped cathedral ceiling (roof), if we install recessed cans into that ceiling we’ve created a significant pathway for air flow and compromised the insulation. This is the case even with recessed lights rated for “insulation contact,” those IC-rated fixtures are far better than older models that required a significant air space surrounding the lights, but they still result in significant air leakage.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/access-ceilings-replace-fixtures-without-cutting-drywall-and-insulation" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/access-ceilings-replace-fixtures-without-cutting-drywall-and-insulation#comments Thu, 22 Aug 2013 04:30:27 +0000 Alex Wilson 17516 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com It Takes a Village to Be Resilient http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/it-takes-village-be-resilient <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Surveying residents to assess resilience in the town of Dummerston, Vermont</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/PV_array_6790_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/PV_array_6790_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>The solar-electric system on our restored barn will contribute to community resilience in our part of Dummerston, Vermont.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">The Dummerston Energy Committee, on which I serve in my home town, is conducting an energy survey.</p> <p class="Standard">Partly, we are conducting this survey to understand how our town uses energy—both in our homes and in getting around in our vehicles. We have a goal in Dummerston, articulated in our Town Plan, to reduce nonrenewable energy consumption 40% by 2030, and we’re trying to establish a baseline from which to measure our success in achieving that long-term target.</p> <p class="Standard">But we’re also conducting this survey for another reason that may be more important: to gauge how <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/2/28/Resilient-Design-Smarter-Building-for-a-Turbulent-Future/">resilient</a> our town is.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/it-takes-village-be-resilient" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/it-takes-village-be-resilient#comments Wed, 14 Aug 2013 17:42:06 +0000 Alex Wilson 17502 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Beating the Achilles Heel of Grid-Tied Solar Electric Systems http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/beating-achilles-heel-grid-tied-solar-electric-systems <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">A new inverter from SMA allows us to draw some daytime power from our PV system when the grid is down, even without batteries</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/PV_array_7150_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/PV_array_7150_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>The 18 kW PV array on our barn is a group-net-metered system with some of the output going to other houses. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">One of the biggest complaints I hear about most solar-electric (photovoltaic, PV) systems is that when the grid goes down you can’t use any of the power that’s produced. Consumers have spent thousands of dollars on a PV system, and during an extended power outage during a bright, sunny day when the PV modules are certainly generating electricity, they are disappointed that none of that electricity can be used.</p> <p class="Standard">This problem applies to net-metered PV systems that do not include battery back-up. Off-grid systems work just fine when the grid is down, but the vast majority of the roughly 300,000 PV systems in the U.S. are net-metered systems without batteries, and most of them lose all functionality when the grid is down.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/beating-achilles-heel-grid-tied-solar-electric-systems" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/beating-achilles-heel-grid-tied-solar-electric-systems#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 02:59:56 +0000 Alex Wilson 17497 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Smart Vapor Retarders: Not Just Your Grandmother’s Poly http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/smart-vapor-retarders-not-just-your-grandmother-s-poly <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">New smart vapor retarders block most vapor diffusion when you want to eliminate risk of condensation, but allow vapor flow when you want drying potential</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/DB-plus_6717_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/DB-plus_6717_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Our Pro Clima DB+ smart vapor retarder on the insulated roof. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Nowhere in building design has there been more confusion or more dramatic change in recommended practice than with <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/productsByCsiSection.cfm?SubBuilderCategoryID=1350">vapor retarders</a>. Thirty years ago, we were told to always install a polyethylene (poly) vapor barrier on the warm side of the wall. Then we were told to forget the poly and go with an airtight layer of drywall (<em>airtight drywall approach</em>). Insulation contractors, meanwhile, often said to skip the vapor barrier; we need to let the wall or ceiling cavity dry out.</p> <p class="Standard">It made for a lot of confusion. And I’m not sure we’re totally out of the woods yet.</p> <p class="Standard">Some experts are now looking to vapor retarders whose vapor permeability changes based on the humidity conditions. We installed one of these new materials on our house.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/smart-vapor-retarders-not-just-your-grandmother-s-poly" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/smart-vapor-retarders-not-just-your-grandmother-s-poly#comments Thu, 01 Aug 2013 00:50:51 +0000 Alex Wilson 17471 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Getting to Know Spider Insulation http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-know-spider-insulation <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Spray-applied fiberglass insulation offers huge benefits over fiberglass batts and even has some advantages over cellulose</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Spider_6680_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Spider_6680_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Spider insulation being sprayed into an open wall cavity. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">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 re-building) 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 <em><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/news/">Environmental Building News</a></em>.</p> <p class="Standard">Insulation has been a particular focus of the project, in part because some of the most common insulation materials on the market have <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2013/6/27/Can-We-Replace-Foam-Insulation/">environmental or health concerns</a>, including halogenated flame retardants and blowing agents that contribute significantly to global warming.</p> <p class="Standard">In previous blogs I described <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/gaining-experience-new-material">Foamglas</a>, a cellular-glass material, that we installed under the foundation slab and on the outside of the foundation walls, and <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/installing-cork-insulation">expanded-cork boardstock </a>insulation that we installed on the outside of above-grade walls spanning over the wood framing. Here I’m covering the third innovative insulation product we used on the project: a spray-applied fiberglass product made by the Johns Manville Company called <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/productDetail.cfm?ProductID=4518">Spider</a>.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-know-spider-insulation" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-know-spider-insulation#comments Mon, 22 Jul 2013 19:02:43 +0000 Alex Wilson 17423 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Choosing Insulation Levels Based on Your PV Costs http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/choosing-insulation-levels-based-your-pv-costs <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Some suggest that we should base decisions about insulation levels on the cost of supplying the necessary heating or cooling with solar electricity</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/PV_array_6035_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/PV_array_6035_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Photovoltaic (PV) system being installed on our barn roof.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">There’s an age-old question of how much <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/landing/insulation/">insulation</a> to install in our homes. In the green building community, there is a contingent that says to add more until the “payback” for the added insulation isn’t worth it—until the energy savings that will result from the insulation doesn’t pay back the cost of that insulation quickly enough.</p> <p class="Standard">Energy and environmental consultant Andy Shapiro, of Energy Balance, Inc. in Montpelier, suggests a different approach: basing that decision on the cost of solar.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/choosing-insulation-levels-based-your-pv-costs" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/choosing-insulation-levels-based-your-pv-costs#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 16:24:44 +0000 Alex Wilson 17415 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com From Tyvek to Pro Clima: The Evolution of Weather-Resistive Barriers http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tyvek-pro-clima-evolution-weather-resistive-barriers <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">We’ve come a long way from the early Tyvek housewrap; our experience with the German Pro Clima Solitex weather-resistive barrier</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Housewrap_5047_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Housewrap_5047_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>Pro Clima Solitex weather-resistive barrier installed on our home. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I remember years ago—I hate to remember how many; it must have been around 1982 or 1983—writing for <em>New England Builder</em> (now the <em><a href="http://www.jlconline.com/">Journal of Light Construction</a></em>) about <a href="http://www2.dupont.com/Tyvek_Weatherization/en_US/">Tyvek housewrap</a>. It was then a fairly new product—and really a new idea: a material that would wrap over the outside of a house to provide an air barrier and improve energy performance. &nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">Tyvek wasn’t actually new in the early 1980s—it was invented by DuPont in 1955 and first commercialized in 1967—but it was new enough in the building industry that two technical experts from DuPont trekked up to Vermont to give me a dog-and-pony show about it. <em>New England Builder</em> was gaining a reputation as a leading purveyor of practical, on-the-ground information for builders, and DuPont wanted to get the message out.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tyvek-pro-clima-evolution-weather-resistive-barriers" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tyvek-pro-clima-evolution-weather-resistive-barriers#comments Tue, 25 Jun 2013 14:29:37 +0000 Alex Wilson 17319 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Should We Expect Energy Modeling to Predict Building Performance? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/should-we-expect-energy-modeling-predict-building-performance <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> BuildingGreen Talks LEED </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Omaha.gif" alt="On this Department of Veterans Affairs Omaha VA Medical Center, energy modeling was used from the outset to analyze nine different massing schemes down to three more schematic schemes, then throughout the design of the selected scheme to optimize building massing, mechanical systems, daylighting, and onsite renewable energy usage." title="On this Department of Veterans Affairs Omaha VA Medical Center, energy modeling was used from the outset to analyze nine different massing schemes down to three more schematic schemes, then throughout the design of the selected scheme to optimize building massing, mechanical systems, daylighting, and onsite renewable energy usage. Image – Leo A Daly " class="image-right" height="164" width="339" /></p> <h3>The green building industry focuses far too much on energy modeling to predict performance, not to make early design decisions.</h3> <p>Let me put my headline question another way: Is prediction of building performance the highest use of energy modeling during building design?</p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/should-we-expect-energy-modeling-predict-building-performance" target="_blank">read more</a></p> BuildingGreen Talks LEED Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/should-we-expect-energy-modeling-predict-building-performance#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2013 19:10:35 +0000 Tristan Roberts 17309 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Icebox or Oven? What Happens to Interior Temperatures When the Power Goes Out http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/icebox-or-oven-what-happens-interior-temperatures-when-power-goes-out <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="Standard">If buildings lose power or heating fuel, how hot is too hot and how cold is too cold?</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/NYC_elderly_DavidGoodman_BRTF_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/NYC_elderly_DavidGoodman_BRTF_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>An elderly woman in New York City trying to keep cool without air conditioning—though with an electric fan.</strong> <br /><em>Photo Credit: David Goodman - from the Buildings Resiliency Task Force Report</em></div> <p class="Standard">Over the past five months, the <a href="http://www.urbangreencouncil.org/BuildingResiliency">New York City Buildings Resiliency Task Force </a>has been working to figure out how to make buildings in the City more <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/2/28/Resilient-Design-Smarter-Building-for-a-Turbulent-Future/">resilient</a>. The Task Force, which was created at the request of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and facilitated by <a href="http://www.urbangreencouncil.org/Home">Urban Green</a>, the U.S. Green Building Council Chapter in New York City, issued its recommendations on June 13, 2013.</p> <p class="Standard">The Task Force included about 200 people organized into four building-type committees (Commercial Buildings, Multi-family Residential Buildings, Critical Buildings, and 1-, 2- and 3-Family Homes and three Working Groups (Structure,&nbsp;Façade, and&nbsp;Interiors; Electrical and IT; along with HVACR, Plumbing and Fire Protection). I participated in several meetings as an at-large member of the Task Force</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/icebox-or-oven-what-happens-interior-temperatures-when-power-goes-out" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/icebox-or-oven-what-happens-interior-temperatures-when-power-goes-out#comments Wed, 19 Jun 2013 01:17:00 +0000 Alex Wilson 17296 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Installing A Group Net-Metered Solar Array http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/installing-group-net-metered-solar-array <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">The 18-kW photovoltaic array on our barn roof is nearing completion</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/PV_array_6041_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/PV_array_6041_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>The first PV panels being installed on our barn roof. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">When we started planning the rebuild of our house and the rest of the farm in West Dummerston, Vermont my wife and I knew that we wanted to produce all of our energy onsite. That meant a solar photovoltaic (PV) system that would generate as much electricity as the house and barn are consuming—net-zero energy.</p> <p class="Standard">We also wanted to protect as much of the ten acres of agricultural land as possible. That meant we wanted to avoid a ground-mounted PV system. Wherever land can be used for farming—now or in the future—I prefer to install PV arrays on buildings, keeping the land open for agricultural uses.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/installing-group-net-metered-solar-array" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/installing-group-net-metered-solar-array#comments Wed, 12 Jun 2013 12:06:29 +0000 Alex Wilson 17274 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Brattleboro's Slow Living Summit http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/brattleboros-slow-living-summit <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">This week’s Slow Living Summit celebrates local food, local economies, sustainability, and resilience.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/SlowLivingSummit_graphic.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/SlowLivingSummit_graphic.jpg" /></a> <strong>The Slow Living Summit is happening June 5-7 in Brattleboro.</strong><br /><em>Image Credit: Strolling of the Heifers<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">For the past three years the <a href="http://www.slowlivingsummit.org/">Slow Living Summit </a>has been an important ancillary event to the <a href="http://www.strollingoftheheifers.com/">Strolling of the Heifers </a>parade in Brattleboro, Vermont, which is now one of the state’s leading tourist attractions. With a nod to Spain’s famous Running of the Bulls, the Strolling of the Heifers is a relaxed walk along Main Street that focuses attention on farmers and local food.</p> <p class="Standard">Right from day one Strolling organizer Orly Munzing worked to provide an educational component to the event. So it was a logical extension to host a focused conference that tied into the Strolling.</p> <p class="Standard">But the Slow Living Summit, whose program committee I’ve participated in these three years, goes beyond food and agriculture.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/brattleboros-slow-living-summit" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/brattleboros-slow-living-summit#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2013 18:07:31 +0000 Alex Wilson 17233 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Energy Use by Buildings and the Built Environment http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/energy-use-buildings-and-built-environment <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">If we include building-related portions of industrial and transportation sectors, buildings account for a lot more energy than most people claim</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Energy_consumption_by_end-use_EIA.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Energy_consumption_by_end-use_EIA.jpg" /></a> <strong>The generally accepted split between different primary energy end-uses. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I’ve long appreciated the adage that you can’t manage what you don’t measure, so I’ve spent a good bit of time looking at numbers—especially relating to energy.</p> <p class="Standard">One of those numbers that I’ve always been intrigued with is how much of our nation’s total energy consumption relates to buildings. That sounds simple enough.</p> <p class="Standard">We are fortunate in the United States that the Department of Energy (DOE) tracks all sorts of energy statistics through the <a href="http://www.eia.gov">Energy Information Administration </a>(EIA), so a numbers geek can go hog-wild digging as deep as he might want into whatever aspects of energy production and consumption are of interest.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/energy-use-buildings-and-built-environment" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/energy-use-buildings-and-built-environment#comments Wed, 29 May 2013 20:28:43 +0000 Alex Wilson 17176 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com America's Greenest Office Building http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/americas-greenest-office-building <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">The Bullitt Center in Seattle is showing that a six-story, 52,000 square-foot building can meet the net-zero-energy, net-zero-water Living Building Challenge</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Bullitt_Center_exterior_5838_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Bullitt_Center_exterior_5838_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>The new Bullitt Center with its cantilevered cap of PV modules. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I’m just back from a week in Seattle, where I attended the <a href="http://living-future.org/unconference2013">Living Future Conference</a>, which this year had a theme of resilience and regeneration—a major focus of mine with the <a href="http://www.resilientdesign.org/">Resilient Design Institute</a>. While there I visited what is almost certainly the greenest office building in America if not the world.</p> <p class="Standard">The Living Future Conference was created initially to provide a networking and learning venue for designers and builders involved in creating buildings that achieve the <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2009/5/29/The-Living-Building-Challenge-Can-It-Really-Change-the-World/">Living Building Challenge</a>. Unlike its better known cousin, the <a href="http://www.usgbc.org/">LEED Rating System </a>(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) of the U.S. Green Building Council, the Living Building Challenge (LBC) is not a points-based system, but rather a collection of very specific, very challenging requirements.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/americas-greenest-office-building" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/americas-greenest-office-building#comments Wed, 22 May 2013 02:17:21 +0000 Alex Wilson 17147 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Mineral Wool Boardstock Insulation Gaining Ground in the Homebuilding World http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/mineral-wool-boardstock-insulation-gaining-ground-homebuilding-world <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Roxul ComfortBoard IS has some important environmental and performance advantages over XPS and polyisocyanurate insulation</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/ComfortBoard_IS_install_Roxul_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/ComfortBoard_IS_install_Roxul_MedRes.jpg" /></a> <strong>ComfortBoard IS, Roxul's exterior insulation board, is being distributed nationwide in the U.S. at thickensses up to 3".</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Roxul</em></div> <p class="Standard">Readers of this Energy Solutions blog may be aware that I’ve been critical of some of our foam-plastic insulation materials. I’ve come down hardest on <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/insulation-keep-us-warm-not-warm-planet">extruded polystyrene </a>(XPS), which is made both with a blowing agent that contributes significantly to global warming and with a brominated flame retardant, HBCD, that’s slated for international phaseout as a persistent organic pollutant.</p> <p class="Standard">So I’m always keeping an eye out for alternatives. I’ve written here about two of those alternatives that I’ve used in our own home: a cellular glass material called <a href="http://greenspec.buildinggreen.com/product/foamglas-sheet-insulation/pittsburgh-corning/3597">Foamglas </a>with high compressive strength that works very well below-grade; and <a href="http://greenspec.buildinggreen.com/product/expanded-insulation-cork-board/amorim-isolamentos-sa/11076">Thermacork</a>, an all-natural rigid insulation material made from expanded cork.</p> <p class="Standard">I like both of those materials a lot, but they have two big problems: high cost and limited availability. They just won’t be able to enter the mainstream home building industry—not yet, anyway—since they cost more than twice as much as XPS and polyisocyanurate and are hard to get hold of.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/mineral-wool-boardstock-insulation-gaining-ground-homebuilding-world" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/mineral-wool-boardstock-insulation-gaining-ground-homebuilding-world#comments Wed, 15 May 2013 14:10:43 +0000 Alex Wilson 13956 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A Good Time for Energy Audits and Weatherization http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/good-time-energy-audits-and-weatherization <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Few others are thinking about energy audits and weatherization, but now’s a good time.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/AirLeakage_DOE.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/AirLeakage_DOE.jpg" /></a> <strong>Weatherization should target the biggest air leakage sites.</strong><br /><em>Image Credit: U.S. Department of Energy<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Wait a second. Spring has barely sprung, and you’re saying we need to start thinking about energy audits already? What’s up with that?</p> <p class="Standard">There are several reasons why now is a good time not only to focus on energy auditing and weatherization—not only for your clients, but also for your own home.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Weatherization professionals have some time</strong></p> <p class="Standard">Because spring is a time when few homeowners are thinking about heating bills and how to bring them down, it’s a good time to find energy-performance contractors who can do that weatherization work.</p> <p class="Standard">Those energy-performance contractors who do general construction work may be gearing up for the summer building season, but for those limited to energy audits and weatherization, now is a good time.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/good-time-energy-audits-and-weatherization" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/good-time-energy-audits-and-weatherization#comments Wed, 08 May 2013 16:17:24 +0000 Alex Wilson 12735 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com What’s Different About Unity Homes? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-s-different-about-unity-homes <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Panelized construction, meticulous attention to energy detailing, and a sophisticated computer design system put Unity Homes at the cutting edge of home buiding.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/UnityHomes_factory_5191_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/UnityHomes_factory_5191_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>A Unity Homes wall section at the company's Walpole, NH factory. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">In my blog <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/unity-homes-pushing-boundaries-home-building">last week</a>, I provided a little background on Tedd Benson and his evolution that led him to found <a href="http://unityhomes.com/">Unity Homes</a>. This week, I’ll describe some of the features that set Unity Homes apart from both standard home construction and other panelized and manufactured home production.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>An emphasis on energy performance</strong></p> <p class="Standard">A top priority for Unity Homes is energy performance. The homes have R-35 walls and roofs that vary from R-38 to R-48—depending on the roof spans. (Longer spans require deeper rafters (made from engineered I-joists) with room for more insulation.)</p> <p class="Standard">Unity’s R-35 wall does better than some nominally rated R-35 walls, because thermal bridging through the framing is minimized. The wall system uses 9.5-inch-deep I-studs, so there isn’t a lot of higher-conductivity wood.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-s-different-about-unity-homes" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-s-different-about-unity-homes#comments Wed, 01 May 2013 04:14:02 +0000 Alex Wilson 12699 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Unity Homes: Pushing the Boundaries of Home Building http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/unity-homes-pushing-boundaries-home-building <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Tedd Benson's latest initiative to reinvent home building—with lower-cost panelized construction</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/UnityHomes_factory_5143_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/UnityHomes_factory_5143_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Wall panels being fabricated at Unity Homes' Walpole, New Hampshire factory. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">A few weeks ago I spent a half day with my good friend Tedd Benson learning about his new company Unity Homes. Yhis Walpole, New Hampshire company is on the cutting edge of home building today, with its focus on energy performance, building science, green building, and (relative) affordability.</p> <p class="Standard">This week I’ll describe some of Tedd’s work that led to the creation of <a href="http://unityhomes.com/">Unity Homes</a>, and next week I’ll go into more detail about this new company and the state-of-the-art green homes he and his team are cranking out.</p> <p class="Standard">For those not familiar with Tedd, he is responsible—more than anyone—for the emergence of the modern timber framing movement some four decades ago. Initially to save money, Tedd and his brother Steve used timbers salvaged from old barns in 1973 to build a workshop in Alstead, New Hampshire for the fledgling Benson Woodworking Company that they had launched a year earlier. (Steve died tragically in a car accident in 1974, and Tedd and his wife Christine continued the business.)</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/unity-homes-pushing-boundaries-home-building" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/unity-homes-pushing-boundaries-home-building#comments Wed, 24 Apr 2013 20:14:46 +0000 Alex Wilson 12664 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com EcoSeal: A New System for Air Sealing Homes http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ecoseal-new-system-air-sealing-homes <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Knauf Insulation's EcoSeal can provide significant air-sealing prior to installing cavity-fill insulation</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Knauff_EcoSeal_4988_Medres.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Knauff_EcoSeal_4988_Medres.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Installing Knauf EcoSeal at our farmhouse. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Getting back to our Dummerston, Vermont farmhouse this week, I’m reporting on our use of a relatively new product for air-sealing homes: EcoSeal from Knauf Insulation.</p> <p class="Standard">First some context: In the building science world, there is growing interest in achieving a robust <em>air barrier</em> at the sheathing layer of a house, with layers inside of that able to dry toward the interior and layers on the outside able to dry to the exterior. To make that work, the sheathing layer has to be tightly air-sealed.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ecoseal-new-system-air-sealing-homes" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ecoseal-new-system-air-sealing-homes#comments Tue, 16 Apr 2013 16:37:34 +0000 Alex Wilson 12639 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Växjö, Sweden: A Model of Sustainability http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/v-xj-sweden-model-sustainability <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Op-Ed </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Växjö, Sweden embraced the U.N's Agenda 21 and is now a model of sustainability</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/VEAB_steam_turb_9240.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/VEAB_steam_turb_9240.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Växjö Energi AB's wood-chip-fired <abbr title="Combined heat and power (CHP), or cogeneration, generates both electrical power and thermal energy from a single fuel source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2289">CHP</a></abbr> plant. My host is standing in front of a large steam turbine. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">My <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/no-april-fool-s-joke-kansas-threatens-outlaw-sustainability">blog last week </a>about Kansas and efforts to outlaw any mention or promotion of sustainability was so depressing (to write as well read) that I needed to find a more uplifting sequel. I needed to remind myself—and readers—that even if some politicians in Kansas don’t want to make the world a better place for their children and grandchildren, that’s not a universal attitude.</p> <p class="Standard">There are lots of towns, cities, and countries around the world where planning for the future is a priority and whose sustainability stories are truly inspirational.</p> <p class="Standard">I’ll report here on one of those places: Växjö, Sweden (the approximate pronunciation is “VECK’ shuh”), which is often called Europe’s greenest city. Five years ago I had the good fortune to spend a few days in this municipality of 85,000, with an urban core of 60,000.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/v-xj-sweden-model-sustainability" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Op-Ed http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/v-xj-sweden-model-sustainability#comments Wed, 10 Apr 2013 15:36:36 +0000 Alex Wilson 12636 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com No April Fool’s Joke: Kansas Threatens to Outlaw Sustainability http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/no-april-fool-s-joke-kansas-threatens-outlaw-sustainability <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Op-Ed </div> <div class="field-item even"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Fear of Agenda 21 fuels a bill to ban sustainability planning in the state of Kansas</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Kansas_prairie_BillJohnsonWeb_004.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Kansas_prairie_BillJohnsonWeb_004.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>The Konza Prairie in northeastern Kansas.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Bill Johnson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I love many things about Kansas—from the tall-grass prairies in the <a href="http://www.naturalkansas.org/FlintHills.htm">Flint Hills </a>where I’ve hiked through rolling hills overlooking grazing bison to the dramatic waterfowl migrations in the <a href="http://www.kdwpt.state.ks.us/news/KDWPT-Info/Locations/Wildlife-Areas/Region-3/Cheyenne-Bottoms">Cheyenne Bottoms </a>region in the western part of the state. But a bill currently in committee in the Kansas Legislature makes me wonder whether these natural treasures will be around for future generations to enjoy. Reading about this legislation simply left my jaw agape. At issue is whether the Kansas legislature should outlaw anything that even remotely encourages sustainability planning.</p> <p class="Standard"><a href="http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2013_14/measures/hb2366/"></a></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/no-april-fool-s-joke-kansas-threatens-outlaw-sustainability" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Op-Ed http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/no-april-fool-s-joke-kansas-threatens-outlaw-sustainability#comments Mon, 01 Apr 2013 17:14:07 +0000 Alex Wilson 12608 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Installing Cork Insulation http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/installing-cork-insulation <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Climbing the learning curve in working with a new insulation material</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Cork_install_4594_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Cork_install_4594_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Sliding a slab of precisely cut cork insulation against a door jamb. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">What do you do if you’re a builder and your client (that would be me) hands you a material that no one’s ever heard of, let alone installed in this country, and asks you to insulate his house with it? A lot of smart builders would run the other way. Eli Gould, our partner in the Dummeston, Vermont farmhouse we’re renovating (really re-building), took it on as a challenge.</p> <p class="Standard"><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cork-insulation-our-farmhouse">Last week </a>I wrote about the cork insulation that we’ve installed—the last of it went up at the end of last week. Here I’ll review some of the installation details that Eli and his crew figured out—including such seemingly minor issues as how to cut the stuff.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/installing-cork-insulation" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/installing-cork-insulation#comments Wed, 27 Mar 2013 15:59:08 +0000 Alex Wilson 12572 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Cork Insulation on Our Farmhouse http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cork-insulation-our-farmhouse <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Why we chose cork exterior insulation for our net-zero-energy house</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Cork_install_4550_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Cork_install_4550_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Installing cork insulation on our farmhouse. </strong><strong><em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Among the innovative—some might say weird—products we’re trying out at our Dummerston, Vermont farmhouse, none is more unusual than the expanded cork insulation we’re currently installing as a layer of exterior rigid insulation. As I mentioned in a <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/expanded-cork-greenest-insulation-material">blog last summer</a>, cork insulation has a great story behind it.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Cork? You’ve got to be kidding!</strong></p> <p class="Standard">I first learned about expanded cork insulation years ago when exploring the attic of a 1920s-era home in Brattleboro. I found a rigid boardstock insulation comprised of cork with plaster on one side. It was made by <a href="http://www.armstrong.com/corporate/">Armstrong</a>, which was then a company making cork products but is today one of the world’s leading manufacturers of flooring and ceiling products.</p> <p class="Standard">It turns out that the product was invented by accident in 1893 in New York City by a boat builder, John T. Smith. The cork granules he used to fill life preservers became clogged in a large tin funnel, and that slipped into the coals of a fire used to steam oak staves. When the owner of the shop discovered the tin funnel the next morning he expected the cork to be burned up, but instead it had expanded to fill the form and solidified into a solid block.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cork-insulation-our-farmhouse" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cork-insulation-our-farmhouse#comments Wed, 20 Mar 2013 02:23:34 +0000 Alex Wilson 12564 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Windows 2.0 – Report from Leonard Farm http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/windows-20-report-leonard-farm <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Building complex window surrounds for a deep-energy retrofit</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Windows_install_4420_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Windows_install_4420_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Insulated, splayed window surrounds that will frame the exterior wall insulation. The Pro Clima housewrap on the window surrounds will be taped to the wall housewrap after insulating. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard"><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/state-art-windows-installed-our-new-home">A few weeks ago </a>I reported on the amazing, high-tech Alpen, R-12 (center-of-glass) windows that we installed on the north and west facades of our farmhouse in Dummerston, Vermont. At that time I promised to report on the <em>other</em> windows we were installing on the south and east facades (windows 2.0 if you will).</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>First some context:</strong></p> <p class="Standard">With our new home, we are creating a demonstration with dozens of cutting-edge energy-saving and green building features and products that one can include in a new or existing home. As someone who has written about such products for several decades now, this is a lot of fun—though the decision-making often remains a challenge, since there are so many great products and materials to select from.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/windows-20-report-leonard-farm" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/windows-20-report-leonard-farm#comments Wed, 13 Mar 2013 18:01:02 +0000 Alex Wilson 12551 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A Pioneer of Low-Energy Homes Since 1973 http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/pioneer-low-energy-homes-1973 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Bruce Brownell's impressive track record with foam-insulated low-energy homes</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Bruce_Brownell_SUNY-ESF.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Bruce_Brownell_SUNY-ESF.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Bruce Brownell has been building low-energy passive solar homes for four decades.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Adirondack Alternate Energy<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Bruce Brownell, of <a href="http://www.aaepassivesolar.com/">Adirondack Alternate Energy</a>, has been creating low-energy, largely passive-solar-heated, resilient homes in the Northeast for forty years—and he’s still going strong. Since 1973, Bruce has built more than 375 homes in 15 states, a third of them in very cold (over 8,500-degree-day) climates. Most require just a few hundred dollars of heat per year.</p> <p class="Standard">Bruce told me that he’s done enough monitoring to know that even in very cold climates his houses will never drop below 47°F if the power and supplemental heat is shut off. The fact that these houses will never freeze makes them popular as vacation homes; they can be left closed up with no heat all winter without worry.</p> <p class="Standard">I’m surprised that Bruce isn’t better known. While a few of us hold him up on a pedestal as one of our leading low-energy pioneers, most of today’s low-energy designers and builders have never heard of him. I’ve pondered why that’s the case, and I think it must be that Bruce just rubs some people the wrong way.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/pioneer-low-energy-homes-1973" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/pioneer-low-energy-homes-1973#comments Fri, 08 Mar 2013 21:19:42 +0000 Alex Wilson 12547 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Is Natural Gas Going to be Our Savior? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/natural-gas-going-be-our-savior <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> BuildingGreen's Top Stories </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">A gradual shift in the supply-and-demand balance for natural gas and increasing shipments of LNG will bring the prices back up, while the risks of fracking continue to be debated</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/fracking_PhillyWorkersVoice.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/fracking_PhillyWorkersVoice.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Gas well in the shale country of Pennsylvania. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Philly Workers Voice<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">In many parts of the country and for many applications, natural gas is considered a panacea to our energy challenges.</p> <p class="Standard">Comprised mostly of methane, natural gas is clean-burning, with just a tiny fraction of the particulates, nitrous oxides, and other pollutants that are emitted from burning coal or oil. Because the ratio of hydrogen to carbon is higher with natural gas than with longer-carbon-chain fossil fuels like coal and oil, less carbon dioxide is generated when it is burned. At the point of combustion, natural gas releases about 500 grams of <abbr title="Carbon dioxide"><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2298">CO2</a></abbr> per kilowatt hour (<abbr title="A kilowatt-hour is a unit of work or energy, measured as 1 kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power expended for 1 hour. One kWh is equivalent to 3,412 Btu."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2429">kWh</a></abbr>), compared to about 900 grams for coal. That’s good news in terms of <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>.</p> <p class="Standard">And the dramatic upsurge in natural gas production made possible through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has cut prices dramatically over the past five years. These low prices have contributed to utility companies replacing some of the nation’s dirtiest coal-fired power plants with advanced, natural gas plants—and this has lead to rather significant reductions in our nation’s carbon dioxide emissions over the past few years.</p> <p class="Standard">Natural gas seems like a winner. What’s not to like about it?</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/natural-gas-going-be-our-savior" target="_blank">read more</a></p> BuildingGreen's Top Stories Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/natural-gas-going-be-our-savior#comments Wed, 27 Feb 2013 17:31:57 +0000 Alex Wilson 12468 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com FTC Cracking Down on False R-Value Claims http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ftc-cracking-down-false-r-value-claims <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Large fines levied on companies making deceptive claims about R-values</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Supertherm_brochure_border.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Supertherm_brochure_border.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Exaggerated claims, like this one for SUPER THERM, claiming R-19 for a coating of paint, are getting the attention of the Federal Trade Commission. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Superior Products International.<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Most of us want to do the right thing in improving the energy performance of our homes. We research energy-saving products like appliances and insulation. We search the internet or clip ads from the paper looking for products that will save us the most energy (and money). We look for the most R-value for the money. Well-meaning homeowners do this all the time.</p> <p class="Standard">But it turns out that in a troubling number of situations there’s a significant discrepancy between claimed and actual performance. With insulation materials, for example, exaggerated R-value claims became so rampant in the 1970s—when adding insulation to homes came into vogue following the 1973 oil embargo—that the government stepped in to regulate energy performance claims.</p> <p class="Standard">The threat of fines hasn’t been as successful as we might have hoped, as exaggerated claims have long continued. Some long-overdue legal actions against insulation companies in January 2013, however, may finally begin to rein in these scams.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ftc-cracking-down-false-r-value-claims" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ftc-cracking-down-false-r-value-claims#comments Wed, 20 Feb 2013 18:57:41 +0000 Alex Wilson 12463 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Commercial-Scale Wind Power http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/commercial-scale-wind-power-0 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Why larger wind development projects make sense</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Sheffield_Martin_Holladay_2_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Sheffield_Martin_Holladay_2_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Two 2.5 MW wind turbines in the Sheffield, Vermont wind project. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Martin Holladay<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Last week I wrote about the <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/wind-power-why-it-doesn-t-make-sense-everywhere">challenges of small wind turbines </a>and the difficulty of successfully integrating wind power into buildings. This week, I’ll look at larger-scale commercial wind power developments.</p> <p class="Standard">Though I have long been willing to point out situations in which wind power is not practical, I am a strong supporter of wind power where it makes economic and environmental sense. It is a critical component of what will have to be a multi-faceted effort to come to grips with our greenhouse gas emissions and <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">A fierce debate is raging about the merits and aesthetics of commercial wind developments in Vermont and elsewhere. Ironically, here in Vermont, a state known for progressive thinking and environmental awareness, our legislature is considering a three-year moratorium on wind power development. How is it that many Vermonters are so willing to fight against a clean, safe technology that offers one of the solutions we so desperately need to solve our climate change conundrum?</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/commercial-scale-wind-power-0" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/commercial-scale-wind-power-0#comments Tue, 12 Feb 2013 20:41:03 +0000 Alex Wilson 12426 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Wind Power: Why it Doesn’t Make Sense Everywhere http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/wind-power-why-it-doesn-t-make-sense-everywhere <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">I'm a huge fan of wind power, but we should recognize that some applications of wind don't make sense</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/P1020405_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/P1020405_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Aerovironment wind turbines on the Boston Museum of Science. Performance has been poor and Aerovironment has discontinued the product. </strong><strong><em>Click to enlarge.&nbsp; </em></strong> <br /><em>Photo Credit: David Rabkin, Boston Museum of Science<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">At least in our neck of the woods, wind power is very much in the news these days. The Vermont legislature is debating whether to institute a three-year moratorium on what detractors refer to as “industrial wind power,” and debate is raging in the nearby towns of Windham and Grafton, Vermont about a potential wind farm. I figured I should weigh in.</p> <p class="Standard">As readers of this blog know, I am a strong proponent of renewable energy, including wind power. But I’m also not shy about pointing out situations in which wind power doesn’t make sense. This week I’m going to focus on those misguided or less attractive wind power applications. Next week I’ll cover where we should be heading with wind power and discuss projects like the one proposed for Windham and Grafton.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Don’t put wind turbines on buildings</strong></p> <p class="Standard">Wind turbines almost never make sense on buildings—even tall buildings. When I started researching “building-integrated wind” a few years ago for my newsletter, <em><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/news/index.cfm?">Environmental Building News </a></em>(EBN), I thought I was going to write an article that painted a positive picture of putting wind turbines on top of buildings. After all, tall buildings can get the turbines up high where it’s windier, and like rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems, the power is generated right where it will be used.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/wind-power-why-it-doesn-t-make-sense-everywhere" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/wind-power-why-it-doesn-t-make-sense-everywhere#comments Wed, 06 Feb 2013 13:17:31 +0000 Alex Wilson 12422 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com State-of-the-Art Windows Installed in Our New Home http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/state-art-windows-installed-our-new-home <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Top-performing quad-glazed windows from Alpen installed with three <abbr title="Low-E or Low-Emissivity Coating: Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that reduces heat loss and heat gain through the window; the coating emits less radiant energy (heat radiation), which makes it, in effect, reflective to that heat. In that way it boosts a window's R-value and reduces its U-factor."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2440">low-e</a></abbr> coatings and krypton gas fill</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/AlpenWindow_4055_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/AlpenWindow_4055_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>R-12 windows from Alpen with three low-e coatings and krypton gas-fill.</strong><em><strong> Click to enlarge.</strong></em><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Having written about windows and emerging window technologies for longer than I care to admit (since before low-e coatings even existed), I must say that it’s incredibly fun to be building a house and having an opportunity to try out some of the leading-edge stuff I’ve been writing about.</p> <p class="Standard">In my effort to create a “demonstration home,” we are actually installing two very different types of windows in the 1812 farmhouse rebuild that’s underway. On the north and west facades we’re installing state-of-the-art, fiberglass-framed casement and awning windows from <a href="http://www.alpenhpp.com/">Alpen High Performance Products</a>. These windows, which we ordered from <a href="http://www.pinnaclewindowsolutions.net/">Pinnacle Window Solutions </a>in Maine, are the subject of this blog.</p> <p class="Standard">On the south and east facades (which you see from the road) we’re doing something very different that I’ll describe in a future blog.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/state-art-windows-installed-our-new-home" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/state-art-windows-installed-our-new-home#comments Thu, 31 Jan 2013 02:17:07 +0000 Alex Wilson 12399 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Challenge of Exterior Doors http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/challenge-exterior-doors <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">My struggle to find reasonably energy-efficient exterior doors for our new house</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/EntryDoor_4072_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/EntryDoor_4072_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>The wood-like fiberglass door we found for our farmhouse. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Despite the chilly (seasonable) weather, work is progressing on the renovation/rebuild of our house in Dummerston. Last week, the three exterior doors were installed. Which brings me to one of my pet peeves: the lack of really good choices for highly energy-efficient exterior doors.</p> <p class="Standard">We ended up with a solution that I think will be okay, but there is a huge void in the world of truly high-performance doors. Here, I’ll describe the three doors we put in. I hope you can put up with my whining.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>The front door</strong></p> <p class="Standard">The purpose of front doors, I’m told, is to look nice. But I also wanted a front entrance door that would remain stable and airtight over many years or service and that would provide reasonable insulating value. Oh, and I didn’t want to spend more than about $2,000 for it. That proved a challenge.</p> <p class="Standard">I would have loved to install one of the gorgeous custom entrance doors made by Steve Benson’s company, <a href="http://www.jsbensonwoodworking.com/">J.S. Benson Woodworking</a>, in Brattleboro. They are custom-fabricated of durable and highly stable triple-laminated mahogany (sustainably produced wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council is available), but as solid wood, there is very little insulating value: maybe R-3 for a 2-3/4”-thick door.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/challenge-exterior-doors" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/challenge-exterior-doors#comments Thu, 24 Jan 2013 04:22:41 +0000 Alex Wilson 12392 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Changing Behavior to Save Energy in Getting Around http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/changing-behavior-save-energy-getting-around <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Ease off on the gas — and other behavioral changes to reduce energy for transportation</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/No_idling_DummrstonTownOffice_Stan_Howe-LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/No_idling_DummrstonTownOffice_Stan_Howe-LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>A no-idling sign in my home town to remind residents not to idle their cars.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Stan Howe<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Before the holidays I wrote a blog on how to <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/changing-behavior-and-saving-energy">save energy in the home by changing our behavior</a>. This week we’ll take a look at some of the ways that we can save energy by changing our <em>driving</em> behavior. Below are some simple measures—most cost nothing and some even save money—to reduce your energy use for transportation.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Drive less</strong></p> <p class="Standard">Leaving the car at home when you could walk of ride a bike is perhaps the most obvious way to save energy in our transportation. These options aren’t always possible, due to where we live, the weather, or the seasons, but when it is possible to walk or bike instead of driving huge savings are possible—not to mention the health benefits. The same applies at work; if you’re going out to lunch or need to run an errand, consider providing a little extra time and walking.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/changing-behavior-save-energy-getting-around" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/changing-behavior-save-energy-getting-around#comments Thu, 17 Jan 2013 01:55:31 +0000 Alex Wilson 12383 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Making Healthier, Greener Foam Insulation http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-healthier-greener-foam-insulation <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> <div class="field-item odd"> BuildingGreen's Top Stories </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">A proposed change to the residential building code (International Residential Code) would eliminate the need for halogenated flame retardants in many applications</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/12_inches_XPS_032_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/12_inches_XPS_032_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>For this Passive House in New York's Hudson River Valley, 12 inches of XPS were installed beneath the concrete slab. With proposed changes to the IRC, subslab insulation wouldn't need to be treated with flame retardants. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Jordan Dentz<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">As readers of this blog know, I’ve come down fairly hard on certain types of foam insulation over the years. The downsides include the <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/avoiding-global-warming-impact-insulation">blowing agents </a>used in extruded polystyrene (XPS) and most closed-cell spray polyurethane foam and the flame retardants that are added to all foam-plastic insulation to impart some level of fire resistance.</p> <p class="Standard">Now there’s an effort afoot to change building codes in a way that would allow manufacturers to remove the hazardous flame retardants. This is the subject of a just-published <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/12/31/Getting-Flame-Retardants-Out-of-Foam-Insulation/">feature article in <em>Environmental Building News</em> </a>(log-in required).</p> <p class="Standard">This is a significant energy issue, because layers of foam insulation provide the easiest way to achieve the level of energy performance needed to approach net-zero-energy performance. If we’re going to add a lot of foam insulation to our homes, we want that to be safe for the occupants and the environment.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-healthier-greener-foam-insulation" target="_blank">read more</a></p> BuildingGreen's Top Stories Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-healthier-greener-foam-insulation#comments Tue, 08 Jan 2013 16:14:20 +0000 Alex Wilson 12336 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com What I’m Hoping for in the New Year http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-i-m-hoping-new-year <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/April_2012_9173_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/April_2012_9173_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>An early-morning photo on the West River Trail in Brattleboro. With planned improvements, this will become a great commuting route for bicyclists. <em>Click to enlarge</em>.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <h3 class="Standard">A carbon tax, increased awareness of resilience, and more of us leaving the car at home are among my wishes for 2013.</h3> <p class="Standard">With snow gently falling as the holiday season winds down, I find myself reflecting on the New Year and what we might hope for. World peace of course, and solving the poverty conundrum would be great. But what about energy and the environment? Here are some thoughts:</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>We will finally put a value on carbon</strong></p> <p class="Standard">In mid-2012 the conservative <a href="http://www.aei.org/">American Enterprise Institute </a>(AEI) made headlines by sponsoring strategic meetings about the merits of a carbon tax. While not fully embracing the idea, AEI seems to be open to carbon taxes—generating ire among their conservative brethren. Also in 2012, former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina, launched an organization promoting carbon taxes, the <a href="http://energyandenterprise.com/about/">Energy and Enterprise Initiative</a>.</p> <p class="Standard">I have long favored some form of tax on carbon or nonrenewable energy, rather than the more complex cap-and-trade approach that is being tried in a few places, most notably California. As Al Gore said in his 1992 book, <em>Earth in the Balance</em>, we should tax things we want to discourage, like resource consumption and waste generation, and not tax things we want to encourage, like earnings and savings. With elevated concern about <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr> generated by Superstorm Sandy, perhaps 2013 will be the year to finally consider sensible ideas like carbon taxes.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-i-m-hoping-new-year" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-i-m-hoping-new-year#comments Thu, 03 Jan 2013 03:30:13 +0000 Alex Wilson 12307 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Changing Behavior and Saving Energy http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/changing-behavior-and-saving-energy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Turn off the lights, turn down the thermostat, and take shorter showers.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Wall_switch_3630_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Wall_switch_3630_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Remembering to turn off the lights is easy and it saves a lot of energy.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">We live in a world of gadgets and stuff. When it comes to saving energy, we look to high-efficiency light bulbs or dishwashers. Or we use the advanced weatherstripping to seal our windows or add insulation in our attics. And hopefully we’ll look at fuel-economy ratings when shopping for our next car.</p> <p class="Standard">Those are important things to be doing—and we should continue paying attention with all of our purchases. But we should also recognize that <em>behavior</em> is a big part of our overall energy consumption.</p> <p class="Standard">The fact is, you can build two identical homes, right next to each other—with the same insulation levels, the same windows, the same appliances, and the same lighting—and the energy bills for those homes can differ by a factor of two, because they are operated differently.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Operating houses in a more energy-efficient manner</strong></p> <p class="Standard">So how can homeowners modify the energy performance of their homes? There are lots of ways—many of them so obvious one might be tempted not to even list them. But we sometimes overlook the obvious.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/changing-behavior-and-saving-energy" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/changing-behavior-and-saving-energy#comments Thu, 20 Dec 2012 13:09:04 +0000 Alex Wilson 12301 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A Christmas Shopping List http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/christmas-shopping-list <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">A few shopping ideas for the holiday season.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/20120125_yuba_0034_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/20120125_yuba_0034_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>A Yuba cargo bike with precious cargo.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Yuba</em></div> <p class="Standard">I’m not a big shopper. I don’t even particularly like getting presents. Our society is just too much about consumption. Nonetheless, as I’ve done on occasion in the past, I’m providing below some Christmas shopping ideas.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>1. LED light bulb</strong></p> <p class="Standard">Every time I turn around, it seems, I see another LED light bulb. Among the screw-in replacement lamps, there are many good products—but also some that aren’t so good. Look for products from a reputable manufacturer (a company that’s been around for a while), and select a product that carries an <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=lighting.pr_what_are#what_are">Energy Star label</a>. The most common problem with LED lamps is failure due to poor heat management; I’ve had products fail after less than a year.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/christmas-shopping-list" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/christmas-shopping-list#comments Thu, 13 Dec 2012 02:40:13 +0000 Alex Wilson 12289 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Open-web rafters for superinsulated roofs http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/open-web-rafters-superinsulated-roofs <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Open-web, parallel-chord joists with solid-wood diagonal struts for use as superinsulated roof rafters.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Installing_rafters_2934_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Installing_rafters_2934_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Open Joist Triforce rafters being installed on our house. Click to enlarge.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Last week I wrote about an innovative foundation insulation material, Foamglas, that we used in our new house in Dummerston. This week I’ll talk about the open-web rafters we’re using to achieve a superinsulated roof.</p> <p class="Standard">First, a little background. To create highly insulated roofs there are several approaches:</p> <p class="Standard">When the insulation is installed in the attic floor (creating an unheated attic), it’s easy to obtain very high R-values inexpensively—it’s cheap, that is, as long as you don’t count the cost of the lost living space by creating an unheated attic. Basically, you just dump in a lot of loose-fill cellulose or fiberglass on the attic floor, filling the joist cavity and more.</p> <p class="Standard">I’ve heard of as much as two feet of cellulose insulation being installed in this manner, achieving about R-80. To make room for a lot of insulation at the roof eaves, it’s usually necessary to install “raised-heel” trusses for the roof framing (so that the insulation thickness at the edges is not significantly compromised.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/open-web-rafters-superinsulated-roofs" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/open-web-rafters-superinsulated-roofs#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 14:21:03 +0000 Alex Wilson 12274 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Gaining Experience with a New Material http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/gaining-experience-new-material <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Using Foamglas instead of polystyrene to insulate beneath our basement slab and on the foundation walls.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Foamglas_1679_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Foamglas_1679_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Eli Gould cutting Foamglas for use under our basement slab. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">In my role with <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/news/index.cfm?">Environmental Building News </a>and our <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/menus/">GreenSpec Product Database</a>, I get plenty of opportunity to research and write about innovative building products. That’s one of the really fun aspects of my job.</p> <p class="Standard">On occasion I also get an opportunity to try out new or little-known materials. In the construction of our new home in Dummerston, Vermont—actually the rebuilding of a 200-year Cape—I’ve had opportunity to get some real experience with lots of products. One of these is a cellular glass insulation material known as <a href="http://www.foamglas.us/building/home/">Foamglas</a> (check out <a href="http://greenspec.buildinggreen.com/product/foamglas-sheet-insulation/pittsburgh-corning/3597">Foamglas in GreenSpec</a>).</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Why we need a product like Foamglas</strong></p> <p class="Standard">I’ve written often about the problems with extruded polystyrene from an environmental and health perspective. Relative to performance, extruded polystyrene (XPS) is a great product. It is water-resistant so can be used below-grade; it has high compressive strength so can be used beneath a concrete slab floor; it insulates very well (R-5 per inch); and it’s inexpensive. These properties make XPS the nearly universal choice for sub-slab and exterior foundation insulation today.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/gaining-experience-new-material" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/gaining-experience-new-material#comments Thu, 29 Nov 2012 15:00:42 +0000 Alex Wilson 12224 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A Few Product Highlights from Greenbuild http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/few-product-highlights-greenbuild <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">The Greenbuild conference, as usual, was the place to find out about innovations in green building products.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Agepan.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Agepan.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Agepan THD wood-fiber insulative sheathing is now being sold by the Small Planet Workshop. Click to enlarge.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Small Planet Workshop<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I attended the <a href="http://greenbuildexpo.org/home.aspx">Greenbuild Conference </a>and related meetings in San Francisco last week. This is the largest conference and trade show in the green building field, and it is increasingly becoming <em>the national event</em> where large manufacturers roll out new building products.</p> <p class="Standard">Described below are a few product highlights from the trade show that caught my eye as I wandered around. I only got through about a quarter of the trade show.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Wood-fiber insulation from Germany</strong></p> <p class="Standard">In Europe it is becoming increasingly common to use high-permeability wood fiber sheathing as an exterior insulation material, and at least one such material was on display at the conference. <a href="http://www.smallplanetworkshopstore.com/">The Small Planet Workshop </a>in Olympia, Washington, is now distributing the German product Agepan THD. These 2"-thick panels insulate to R-5.7 (R-2.3 per inch) and have a high perm rating of 18—meaning that water vapor can pass through it fairly easily.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/few-product-highlights-greenbuild" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/few-product-highlights-greenbuild#comments Mon, 19 Nov 2012 17:41:10 +0000 Alex Wilson 12213 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Comparing Fuel Costs http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/comparing-fuel-costs-0 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">An easy-to-use online Fuel Cost Calculators lets you compare different fuels in terms of today’s energy costs.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/FuelCosts_Oil_vs_Elec_11-14-12.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/FuelCosts_Oil_vs_Elec_11-14-12.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>BuildingGreen's online Fuel Cost Calculator—shown here with current Vermont costs for heating oil and electricity and assumptions on how those energy sources are used. <em>Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: BuildingGreen, Inc.<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">If there’s one thing that we can predict with certainty about fuel costs, it’s that they fluctuate a lot. That wasn’t always the case. The price of electricity, natural gas, propane, and heating oil were remarkably stable for decades—up until the 1970s.</p> <p class="Standard">Since then, prices of most fuels have gyrated wildly, driven by political unrest in some parts of the world, periods of greater or lower demand driven by periods of strong economic growth or contraction, resource limitations (real or perceived), and the situation in China and other parts of this increasingly connected world.</p> <p class="Standard">With regulated energy sources (particularly electricity), there is often less volatility, because regulators have to approve changes in pricing.</p> <p class="Standard">What does this mean for you as you compare one heating option to another or try to figure out whether to buy a pellet stove this winter? How does oil compare with propane or electricity as a heating source? Those sound like simple enough questions, but it’s actually fairly complicated.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/comparing-fuel-costs-0" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/comparing-fuel-costs-0#comments Thu, 15 Nov 2012 06:55:36 +0000 Alex Wilson 12208 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Gas Lines Point to a Need for Resilience http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/gas-lines-point-need-resilience <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the vulnerability of our dependence on automobiles; we need to become a lot more resilient.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Woodbridge_NJ__NJ_Tpk_11-1-12_22363621_AP_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Woodbridge_NJ__NJ_Tpk_11-1-12_22363621_AP_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Gas line in Woodbridge, New Jersey on November 1st. Click to enlarge.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: AP</em></div> <p class="Standard">By now we’ve all seen the photos of houses buried in sand along the Jersey Shore, burned-out homes in Queens, and submerged subway stations in Manhattan. Those spectacular images were in the first wave of news from Superstorm Sandy last week.</p> <p class="Standard">The secondary, lingering effects might not be as dramatic, but they are nonetheless highly significant. And they demonstrate, ever so clearly, our need for greater resilience. As of late-afternoon Sunday, November 4th, there were still 1.8 million customers without power, the vast majority of them in New York and New Jersey. That’s down from 8.5 million without power at the peak, but it still includes almost a quarter of New Jersey. In some places outages may last for weeks.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/gas-lines-point-need-resilience" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/gas-lines-point-need-resilience#comments Wed, 07 Nov 2012 17:17:43 +0000 Alex Wilson 12188 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Masonry Heaters http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/masonry-heaters <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">One of the cleanest and most efficient ways to burn wood is provided by high-mass masonry heaters.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Tulikivi_2700_51_09.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Tulikivi_2700_51_09.jpg" alt="" height="327" width="250" /></a> <strong>A Tulikivi masonry heater made of soapstone with an integral bake oven and bench.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Tulikivi</em></div> <p class="Standard">Over the past two weeks I’ve written about wood stoves and pellet heating. This week I’ll focus on another way to burn wood cleanly and efficiently: using a masonry heater.</p> <p class="Standard">A masonry heater, also called a masonry stove or Russian fireplace, is a wood-fired heating system that is fired intermittently at very high temperature to heat up the large quantity of thermal mass, which then radiates heat into the home. The heater has a circuitous path through which the flue gasses flow. Here, the heat is transferred to the stone, brick or other masonry elements of the heater.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Key benefits of masonry heaters</strong></p> <p class="Standard">From an environmental standpoint, masonry heaters burn fuel very rapidly at a high temperature. This results in very complete combustion with little pollution generated. Except when first starting the fire, there should be no visible smoke.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/masonry-heaters" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/masonry-heaters#comments Thu, 01 Nov 2012 12:27:55 +0000 Alex Wilson 12179 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Heating With Wood Pellets http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-wood-pellets <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">What to like and what not to like about pellet stoves and pellet boilers.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/PelletStove_3279-LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/PelletStove_3279-LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Our Quadrafire pellet stove, which we can operate even during a power outage. Click to enlarge.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">We have a sort-of love-hate relationship with our pellet stove. My wife leans more toward the latter, while I see the benefits outweighing the negatives. In this column I’ll outline the primary advantages and disadvantages of pellet heating.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Advantages of wood pellet heating</strong></p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Regional fuel.</strong> The fuel is—or can be—local or regional in origin. At a minimum it’s not fuel that’s coming from places where they don’t like us—like the Middle East. When I’m buying pellets, the source is a significant consideration. I’m willing to pay slightly more to have my pellets come from nearby plants in Jaffrey, New Hampshire or Rutland, Vermont.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Carbon-neutral.</strong> The life-cycle of wood pellet production and use can—and should—be close to carbon-neutral. With natural gas, propane, or heating oil we’re taking carbon that was sequestered underground millions of years ago and releasing that as a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere (where it contributes to global warming). When we burn wood pellets we’re still releasing about the same amount of stored carbon into the atmosphere, but that carbon was sequestered in the wood fiber over just a few decades, and if we’re managing our woodlands properly (replacing harvested trees with new ones) the entire life cycle results in almost no net carbon emissions.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-wood-pellets" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-wood-pellets#comments Wed, 24 Oct 2012 11:20:58 +0000 Alex Wilson 12139 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Heating With Wood Safely and Efficiently http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-wood-safely-and-efficiently <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Understanding wood stoves and wood heat so that you can educate your clients.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/VT_Cast_Encore_NC_0.7g.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/VT_Cast_Encore_NC_0.7g.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Vermont Castings Encore-NC wood stove with an EPA emissions rating of 0.7 grams per hour. Click to enlarge.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Vermont Castings<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I’ve been heating primarily with wood since I bought our house 31 years ago, though there were a few years following our installation of an oil boiler when wood consumption dropped considerably.</p> <p class="Standard">Wood heat has a mixed record, though. It’s a renewable fuel and, assuming that new trees grow up to replace those cut for firewood, it is carbon-neutral, meaning that it doesn’t have a net contribution to global warming. But burning firewood produces a lot of air pollution; in fact, it’s usually our dirtiest fuel.</p> <p class="Standard">Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to reduce the pollution generated by wood burning—and boost the efficiency.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-wood-safely-and-efficiently" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-wood-safely-and-efficiently#comments Thu, 18 Oct 2012 02:22:20 +0000 Alex Wilson 12099 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Good News and Bad News With the World Glut in Solar Panels http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/good-news-and-bad-news-world-glut-solar-panels <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">How China is affecting the world’s photovoltaic industry.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Suntech_Workers_PeterParksAgence_France-Presse_GettyImages_NYT_10-4-12.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Suntech_Workers_PeterParksAgence_France-Presse_GettyImages_NYT_10-4-12.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Workers at a Suntech factory in China.</strong> <strong>Due to the glut in PV, Suntech has closed a quarter of it's manufacturing capacity.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Peter Parks, Getty Images for the New York Times<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">When China dives into a technology, it does so in a big way. Nowhere is this more the case than in photovoltaic (PV) panel manufacturing, where dramatic growth has not only taken a toll on other manufacturers around the world, but also now threatens its own PV industry through rampant oversupply.</p> <p class="Standard">This has significant implications for us here in the U.S.—both good and bad.</p> <h3 class="Standard"><strong>What happened?</strong></h3> <p class="Standard">China learned how to manufacture PV modules from leading-edge manufacturers in the U.S., Germany, and elsewhere, then figured out how to do it better and much cheaper than anyone else. In just a few years China came to dominate world PV manufacturing, leaving a trail of bankrupt Western manufacturers in its wake.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/good-news-and-bad-news-world-glut-solar-panels" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/good-news-and-bad-news-world-glut-solar-panels#comments Wed, 10 Oct 2012 11:00:59 +0000 Alex Wilson 12088 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A New Venture http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/new-venture <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Op-Ed </div> </div> </div> <h3>Introducing the Resilient Design Institute: a new nonprofit organization that has been created in Brattleboro.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/DrummandvileQB.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/DrummandvileQB.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>A massive ice storm, in which up to four inches of ice were deposited in early January, 1998, destroyed over 100 power distribution towers and tens of thousands of wooden utility poles, leaving millions without power for up to three weeks in Eastern Canada.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Hydro Quebec<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Some 27 years ago, following a five-year stint as director of the <a href="http://www.nesea.org/">Northeast Sustainable Energy Association </a>(which was then based in Brattleboro), I launched my own company focusing on information about environmentally responsible design and construction. That company, now called <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/">BuildingGreen </a>and with a staff of 18, remains a leading player in the green building world—a trusted source of information on green building products, the place to find objective news on happenings in the green building world, an independent voice on the U.S. Green Building Council’s <a href="http://www.leeduser.com/">LEED Rating System</a>.</p> <p class="Standard">It’s a great place to work and I’m thrilled to serve as executive editor at BuildingGreen and be able to research and write about all the cool stuff that our subscribers need to know. Nadav Malin has been doing a superb job at running the company since I handed the reins to him several years ago.</p> <p class="Standard">My shift away from company management at BuildingGreen has given me the space to focus on where we’re heading in the building industry and what sort of changes will be needed to solve the many challenges we face, led by <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>. My sabbatical last year, which I began with a contemplative 1,900-mile <a href="http://atwilson.com/2011/05/day-42-%E2%80%93-heading-home/">bicycle trip through the Southwest</a>, provided an opportunity to delve deeply into this thinking.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/new-venture" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Op-Ed http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/new-venture#comments Tue, 02 Oct 2012 15:52:43 +0000 Alex Wilson 12014 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Drainline Heat Exchangers http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drainline-heat-exchangers <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">This simple system for recovering heat from wastewater makes a lot of sense—especially for families and commercial buildings that produce a lot of hot water.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Power-Pipe_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Power-Pipe_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Power-Pipe drainline heat exchanger. Heat from the hot water going down the drain pipe is transferred to water passing through the smaller-diameter pipes.</strong> <em>Click to enlarge</em><br /><em>Photo Credit: RenewABILITY Energy<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Over the past few weeks I’ve written about various strategies to produce hot water efficiently. We’ve seen that tankless water heaters are more efficient than storage water heaters (though are not without their drawbacks), and we’ve learned that heat-pump water heaters produce two to three times as much heat per unit of electricity consumed as electric water heaters that rely on electric resistance heat.</p> <p class="Standard">But the unfortunate reality is that even with the most efficient methods of generating hot water, we still lose the vast majority of that heat down the drain. Domestic hot water is a once-through product. I’ve seen estimates that 90% of the heat in hot water is lost down the drain. Dan Cautley, an energy engineer with the Energy Center of Wisconsin, says that drain water “may be one of our largest untapped resources.”</p> <p class="Standard">It turns out that we can do something about that. Im the right application, drainline heat exchangers allow a significant portion of the heat from hot water going down the drain to be recovered.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drainline-heat-exchangers" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drainline-heat-exchangers#comments Wed, 26 Sep 2012 20:04:49 +0000 Alex Wilson 12000 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A Look at Heat Pump Water Heaters http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/look-heat-pump-water-heaters <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">New federal regulations beginning in mid-April 2015 will require that larger electric water heaters be heat-pump models. It’s time to pay attention to this option.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/GeoSpring_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/GeoSpring_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>The GE GeoSpring heat-pump water heater is the quietest model I could find and the only one that's made in America.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: GE Appliances<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Last week I wrote about <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/hybrid-water-heaters">“hybrid” water heaters</a>, a relatively new type of water heater that includes features of both storage and tankless models. This week I’ll cover another type of water heater that is also (confusingly) referred to as “hybrid”: <abbr title="A type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2404">heat pump</a></abbr> water heaters. These produce over twice as much hot water for each unit of electricity consumed as any other type of electric water heater (storage or tankless).</p> <p class="Standard">You’re going to be hearing a lot about heat-pump water heaters over the next few years, because new federal regulations that take effect in 2015 will require heat pump functionality for larger electric water heaters—more on that below.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/look-heat-pump-water-heaters" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/look-heat-pump-water-heaters#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2012 20:20:08 +0000 Alex Wilson 11992 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Hybrid Water Heaters http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/hybrid-water-heaters <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">A relatively new type of water heater combines features of both tankless and storage water heaters.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/AOSmith_next_hybrid-crop.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/AOSmith_next_hybrid-crop.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>A.O. Smith's NEXT Hybrid water heater.</strong><em>Click to enlarge.</em><br /><em>Photo Credit: A.O. Smith<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">In <a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/difference-between-storage-and-tankless-water-heaters">last week’s blog </a>I compared tankless and storage water heaters and explained why tankless water heaters often don’t make that much sense.</p> <p class="Standard">This week I’ll describe a newer type of water heater that has some features of both storage and tankless designs and solves several problems that are common with tankless models. While these are referred to as <em>hybrid water heaters</em>, they are quite different from <em>heat-pump water heaters</em>, which are also often referred to as hybrid. I’ll cover heat-pump water heaters next week.</p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/hybrid-water-heaters" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/hybrid-water-heaters#comments Thu, 13 Sep 2012 12:01:05 +0000 Alex Wilson 11404 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Difference Between Storage and Tankless Water Heaters http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/difference-between-storage-and-tankless-water-heaters <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3><strong>While they have higher efficiency, for most applications tankless water heaters don’t make sense.</strong></h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Tankless_Prestige_Condensing_H95_Direct_Vent_Indoor.png" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Tankless_Prestige_Condensing_H95_Direct_Vent_Indoor.png" alt="" /></a> <strong>Rheem's Prestige condensing tankless water heater has an efficiency of 94%, 11,000 to 199,000 <abbr title="A unit of energy consumed by or delivered to a building. A Btu is an acronym for British thermal unit and is defined as the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit, at normal atmospheric pressure. Energy consumption is expressed in Btu to allow for consumption comparisons among fuels that are measured in different units."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2258">Btu</a></abbr>/hour gas input, a maximum hot water delivery (at a 45°F temperature rise) of 8.4 <abbr title="Gallons per minute (gpm) is a measurement of the flow rate of water faucets and fixtures."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term1854">gpm</a></abbr></strong><strong><strong>, and a minimum flow rate of 0.26 gpm</strong>. Click to enlarge.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Rheem Water Heating<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">There are two primary types of water heaters: storage and tankless. In this column I’ll try to explain the differences between these two approaches and offer some guidance on choosing between them. (There are also “hybrid” water heaters with features of both that I’ll cover in a future blog post.)</p> <h3 class="Standard"><strong>Storage water heaters</strong></h3> <p class="Standard">Most water heaters are <em>storage</em> models. These are insulated tanks holding 20 to 120 gallons with either electric heating elements or gas burners. The storage tank stratifies with hot water at the top and cold incoming water at the bottom, so that as you draw off hot water (from the top), you get consistently hot water until the hot water is nearly depleted. The “first-hour rating” tells you how many gallons of hot water can be delivered in an hour.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/difference-between-storage-and-tankless-water-heaters" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/difference-between-storage-and-tankless-water-heaters#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2012 17:14:32 +0000 Alex Wilson 11395 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Saving a Little More Energy With Exit Signs http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-little-more-energy-exit-signs <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard"><strong>Those ubiquitous exit signs use a huge amount of electricity; a little-known alternative to conventional LED products offers surprising savings.</strong></h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/ExitSign_0395_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/ExitSign_0395_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>An exit sign at Yale's LEED-Platinum Kroon Hall. </strong><em>Click to enlarge.</em><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">In the years that I’ve been writing about energy and energy conservation (longer than I really want to admit), I’ve reported on several dramatic transitions in how we illuminate the exit signs in commercial buildings. For an energy geek, it’s been an exciting technology to watch.</p> <h3 class="Standard"><strong>Why care about exit signs?</strong></h3> <p class="Standard">Why do we even pay attention to exit signs—those ubiquitous red or green illuminated signs that direct our escape from a building should the need arise? They can’t use very much energy, can they?</p> <p class="Standard">Each one uses relatively little electricity, but they are on all the time. And we have a lot of them in our schools, factories, and office buildings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are more than 100 million exit signs in use today in the U.S., consuming 30–35 billion kilowatt-hours (<abbr title="A kilowatt-hour is a unit of work or energy, measured as 1 kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power expended for 1 hour. One kWh is equivalent to 3,412 Btu."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2429">kWh</a></abbr>) of electricity annually.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-little-more-energy-exit-signs" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-little-more-energy-exit-signs#comments Wed, 29 Aug 2012 21:23:08 +0000 Alex Wilson 11362 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Insulation to Keep Us Warm—Not Warm the Planet http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/insulation-keep-us-warm-not-warm-planet <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard"><strong>An update on getting the global warming potential (<abbr title="Global Warming Potential is a measure of how much heat is trapped by a given mass of gas, contributing to global warming, compared with the same mass of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide has a GWP value of 1."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term1853">GWP</a></abbr>) out of insulation materials.</strong></h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Straube_SPF__2519_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Straube_SPF__2519_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Today's closed-cell SPF has a global warming potential of 1,430, but if producers adopt new HFO blowing agents, it will drop to close to zero.</strong> Click to enlarge.<br /><em>Photo Credit: John Straube<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I’ve been pretty vocal about a big problem with some of our most common insulation materials: that they are made using blowing agents that are highly potent greenhouse gases.</p> <p class="Standard">All extruded polystyrene (XPS) and most closed-cell spray polyurethane foams (SPF) are made with HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) blowing agents that have global warming potentials (GWPs) many hundreds of times greater than that of carbon dioxide. (My apologies for contaminating this column with so many acronyms!)</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Insulation: good news, bad news</strong></p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/insulation-keep-us-warm-not-warm-planet" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/insulation-keep-us-warm-not-warm-planet#comments Wed, 22 Aug 2012 20:54:46 +0000 Alex Wilson 11315 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The End of Peak Oil? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/end-peak-oil <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">With new oil discoveries and more effective extraction methods, the world is probably many decades away from peak oil.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Hubbart_07_EnergyWatchGroup_UK.png" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Hubbart_07_EnergyWatchGroup_UK.png" alt="" /></a> <strong>A "Hubbert Curve" of world oil production, showing the peak in this decade, which was widely predicted just a few years ago.</strong> <em>Click to enlarge.</em><br /><em>Photo Credit: Energy Watch Group, UK.<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I first wrote about “peak oil” in 1998, reporting on an in-depth article in <em>Scientific American</em> by petroleum geologists Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Jean Laherrère. Campbell and Laherrère believed that up to that time the world had consumed about 800 billion barrels of oil (BBO), and the known reserves of conventional crude oil totaled about 850 bbl in 1996 and another 200 BBO of conventional oil was yet to be discovered.</p> <p class="Standard">The result, they argued, was that the world would reach the half-way point—or the peak—in (conventional) world oil production within the first decade of the 21<sup>st</sup> century. That peak would occur, they argued, when cumulative world oil consumption reached about 925 BBO. (At that time the world was consuming 23.6 BBO per year.)</p> <p class="Standard">The significance of peak oil is that once that point is reached, so the proponents argue, annual oil production will begin an inexorable decline with a concomitant rise in cost. It would become too expensive to use oil for many uses and the “end of the oil age” would be in sight.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/end-peak-oil" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/end-peak-oil#comments Thu, 16 Aug 2012 01:35:25 +0000 Alex Wilson 11298 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com 30 Years Later – Fixing Those Drainage Problems http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/30-years-later-fixing-those-drainage-problems <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Finally fixing the basement drainage problems that have plagued my house for 30 years</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/West_0207_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/West_0207_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>I tried fixing the drainage years ago, but my fix failed at the basement window wells, including the one shown here on the back of the house after digging it out, exposing the EPDM drainage layer. </strong><em>Click to enlarge.</em><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">When I bought the house in West Dummerston, Vermont, where my wife and I have lived for the past thirty years, one of the first things I did was fix the drainage problems that were dumping water into our basement….</p> <p class="Standard">Or so I thought. Let me explain.</p> <p class="Standard">When I moved into the 1780s house there was a hill on the west side that channeled runoff right into the dry-stone foundation. During rainstorms rivulets of water would flow into the basement with abandon. The house had only survived so long because the soil is very sandy. Moisture that got into the basement would quickly soak into the ground and disappear.</p> <p class="Standard">Step one was to change the topography. I hired an excavation contractor to move several hundred yards of earth from the west side of the house, creating a bit of a swale to direct runoff away from the house.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/30-years-later-fixing-those-drainage-problems" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/30-years-later-fixing-those-drainage-problems#comments Thu, 09 Aug 2012 03:44:53 +0000 Alex Wilson 11287 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Building Performance Laid Bare: Energy Reporting Laws Taking Effect http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/building-performance-laid-bare-energy-reporting-laws-taking-effect <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/EnergyGuide_building_labels.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/EnergyGuide_building_labels.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Laws taking effect now are advertising the real energy performance of large buildings in cities like New York for all to see.</strong><br /><em><br /></em></div> <p>Monitoring your energy use isn’t just a good idea—it’s now the law in some cities and states. As we report on in our new <em>EBN</em> feature article, <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/7/30/Energy-Reporting-It-s-the-Law/">Energy Reporting—It’s the Law</a>, the public is about to find out just how much energy is being consumed in thousands of large buildings in New York City, and similar laws are being enacted and taking effect in several other U.S. cities.</p> <h3>Benchmarking vs. Reporting: What’s the Difference?</h3> <p>Many of the laws that require energy reporting are called “benchmarking” laws. But actual benchmarking may or may not be part of the process. These key definitions should help cut through the confusion.</p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/building-performance-laid-bare-energy-reporting-laws-taking-effect" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/building-performance-laid-bare-energy-reporting-laws-taking-effect#comments Tue, 31 Jul 2012 19:50:28 +0000 Tristan Roberts 11209 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Expanded Cork - The Greenest Insulation Material? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/expanded-cork-greenest-insulation-material <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Introducing all-natural expanded cork boardstock insulation to the North American market.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/ICB_boards_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/ICB_boards_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Expanded cork insulation is available up to 12 inches thick and can be used much like polyiso. </strong><em>Click to enlarge.</em><br /><em>Photo Credit: Amorim Isolamentos<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I’m always on the hunt for the latest, most interesting, and most environmentally friendly building materials, and I have particular interest in insulation products—partly because many conventional insulation products have significant environmental downsides. (See “<a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2010/6/1/Avoiding-the-Global-Warming-Impact-of-Insulation/">Avoiding the Global Warming Impact of Insulation</a>” and “<a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2009/7/30/Polystyrene-Insulation-Does-It-Belong-in-a-Green-Building/?show=all">Polystyrene: Does it Belong in a Green Building?</a>”)</p> <p class="Standard">So I was thrilled to learn about <a href="http://greenspec.buildinggreen.com/product/expanded-insulation-cork-board/amorim-isolamentos-sa/11076">expanded cork boardstock insulation</a> made by the Portuguese company <a href="http://www.bcork.amorim.com/en">Amorim Isolamentos </a>and just now being introduced into the North American market. Francisco Simoes, of Amorim, visited our office in Brattleboro in June and told us all about it.</p> <p class="Standard">Familiar to wine drinkers as the traditional bottle-stopper, cork is a natural product made from the outer bark of a species of oak tree that grows in the western Mediterranean region of Europe and North Africa. The bark is harvested after trees reach an age of 18–25 years and it regenerates, allowing harvesting every nine years over the tree’s 200-year life.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/expanded-cork-greenest-insulation-material" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/expanded-cork-greenest-insulation-material#comments Tue, 31 Jul 2012 11:47:08 +0000 Alex Wilson 11208 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Insulated Storm Windows? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/insulated-storm-windows <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Can top energy performance be achieved by combining fairly standard windows with really good storm windows or even a second set of prime windows?</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Q1010003.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Q1010003.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>A <abbr title="Low-E or Low-Emissivity Coating: Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that reduces heat loss and heat gain through the window; the coating emits less radiant energy (heat radiation), which makes it, in effect, reflective to that heat. In that way it boosts a window's R-value and reduces its U-factor."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2440">low-e</a></abbr> storm window at my colleague Peter Yost's house in Brattleboro.</strong> <em>Click on image to enlarge.</em><br /><em>Photo Credit: Peter Yost<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I’ve done a lot of digging into window options in the past few months—not only for a <a href="http://greenspec.buildinggreen.com/guidance/BetterWindowDecisions">special report on windows </a>that BuildingGreen published, but also for the renovation of the early-19<sup>th</sup>-Century farmhouse that my wife and I recently purchased.</p> <p class="Standard">The state-of-the-art with windows in terms of energy performance and quality is clearly seen in the triple-glazed European windows that are certified by the <a href="http://www.passiv.de/en/index.html">Passivhaus Institut </a>in Germany. You can now buy these wonderful windows with unit center-of-glass R-values above R-9 yet high-enough light transmission to work well for passive solar houses (solar heat gain coefficient above 0.60).</p> <p class="Standard">The problem is that these windows are incredibly expensive—some over $100 per square foot, which comes to $1,500 for a typical 3' x 5' window. You get a lot for that price in the way of top-quality materials, construction detailing, durability, thermal breaks, air tightness, and energy performance, but the windows are simply way above the budget range for most projects. Furthermore, replacing existing windows is often very hard to justify unless the existing windows are in very poor shape.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/insulated-storm-windows" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/insulated-storm-windows#comments Tue, 24 Jul 2012 18:52:40 +0000 Alex Wilson 11148 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Ongoing Revolution in LED Lighting http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ongoing-revolution-led-lighting <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">LED lighting keeps on improving as yet another record <abbr title="In lighting, the ratio of light output (in lumens) to input power (in watts). Higher efficacy indicates higher efficiency."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2353">efficacy</a></abbr> is announced.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Cree_XP-G2.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Cree_XP-G2.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Cree's new XLamp XP-G2 LED chip delivers up to 165 lumens per watt.</strong> <em>Click on image to enlarge.</em><br /><em>Photo Credit: Cree</em></div> <p class="Standard">A few days ago I got yet another press release about a new efficiency record with LED lighting. These are almost commonplace as we ride the revolution that is redefining electric lighting.</p> <p class="Standard">To back up, let me provide a short synopsis of lighting technologies and history.</p> <p class="Standard">Incandescent lamps provided the first electric lighting, with Thomas Edison inventing the first commercially viable light bulb around 1880 (building on the inventions of many others), and the technology has changed relatively little since General Electric introduced tungsten-filament light bulbs in 1911. Electric current flows through a very thin, coiled filament made of tungsten wire and glows white-hot, producing light. With incandescent lighting, roughly 90% of the electricity is converted into heat, only 10% into light.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ongoing-revolution-led-lighting" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ongoing-revolution-led-lighting#comments Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:00:35 +0000 Alex Wilson 11100 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Choosing an Air Conditioner http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/choosing-air-conditioner <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3>Understanding the options with room air conditioners, central air conditioners, and heat pumps.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Daikin_TepferHouse_8761_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Daikin_TepferHouse_8761_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>The outdoor unit of a Daikin mini-split air-source heat pump in Putney, Vermont.<em> Click to enlarge.</em></strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I have never owned an air conditioner, and I don’t have any immediate plans to change that. But if I did, what would I look for?</p> <p class="Standard">For only occasional use and when you don’t want to spend more than $1,000, the options are limited to room air conditioners, which are most commonly installed in windows. These cool the rooms in which they are installed, though in a small house or one that’s very-well-insulated and tight, a single window unit may be able to cool much of the house.</p> <p class="Standard">Most room air conditioners are either installed in a double-hung window or in an opening in the wall specially created for the air conditioner. Special models are available that can be used in casement windows, though installation is trickier.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/choosing-air-conditioner" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/choosing-air-conditioner#comments Wed, 11 Jul 2012 15:17:03 +0000 Alex Wilson 11066 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Chilling Out With Air Conditioners http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/chilling-out-air-conditioners <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">A look at the fascinating history and operation of refrigerant-cycle air conditioners.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Fedders_RoomAC_AZ7R05F2A-5K-ElectricSlide.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Fedders_RoomAC_AZ7R05F2A-5K-ElectricSlide.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Fedders room air 5,000 <abbr title="A unit of energy consumed by or delivered to a building. A Btu is an acronym for British thermal unit and is defined as the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit, at normal atmospheric pressure. Energy consumption is expressed in Btu to allow for consumption comparisons among fuels that are measured in different units."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2258">Btu</a></abbr>/hour room conditioner.</strong> <strong><em>Click on image to enlarge</em></strong>.<br /><em>Photo Credit: Fedders</em></div> <p class="Standard">My wife and I did the outside work early, while the weather was still bearable. Since mid-day we’ve been holed up in the house. It’s not exactly cool indoors, but we’ve had the house closed up and it’s about 15 degrees cooler than outdoors. If it gets much warmer, though, I admit that I’ll at least be <em>thinking</em> <em>about</em> getting an air conditioner—as I do every year for a few days during the hottest weather.</p> <p class="Standard">Readers of last week’s blog know that there are usually ways to avoid mechanical air conditioning (at least in Vermont)—though in places like Phoenix (where it was forecast to reach 109°F today), air conditioners are pretty-much a necessity.</p> <p class="Standard">So what is an air conditioner exactly, and how does it work?</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/chilling-out-air-conditioners" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/chilling-out-air-conditioners#comments Thu, 05 Jul 2012 15:56:00 +0000 Alex Wilson 11029 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The End of the Line for Passive Solar? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/end-line-passive-solar <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3><strong>Passive solar design features have helped define what energy-efficient buildings look like. Have newer design practices left them behind? </strong></h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/1a.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/1a.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>A home in St. Peter, Minnnesota, designed by Sarah Nettleton Architects features south-facing glass with exterior shade panels and lots of interior thermal mass. <em>Click to enlarge</em>.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Don Wong<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">The state of passive solar heating, though built on timeless principles, has changed over the past several decades—as <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2012/6/29/Passive-Solar-Heating/?">latest feature article </a>in <em>Environmental Building News </em>describes.</p> <p class="Standard">Some 36 years ago, in the summer between my junior and senior years of college, I dipped my feet into the world of renewable energy. About 20 students from Ithaca College and Cornell University spent the summer trying to determine whether a farm outside Ithaca could become energy self-sufficient. This was three years after the 1973 oil crisis, and like a lot of people, we wanted to figure out how to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. The National Science Foundation supported the project.</p> <p class="Standard">In 1976 solar heating usually referred to complex, active-solar systems. Experimenters and back-yard inventors were putting solar collectors on their roofs and pumping solar-heated air through rock-beds to store the heat, or they were pumping antifreeze through roof-mounted flat-plate collectors to charge large insulated water tanks.</p> <p class="Standard">We experimented with some of those systems in our quest for energy independence, but we were also hearing about these low-tech, passive-solar designs being developed in the Southwest—especially northern New Mexico. We liked what we saw and put on our tool belts to build some of these passive systems we were reading about, including south-facing attached solar greenhouses (sunspaces).</p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/end-line-passive-solar" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/end-line-passive-solar#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 22:13:39 +0000 Alex Wilson 10998 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Keeping Cool http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-cool <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wison </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Simple strategies to keep cool without the use of mechanical air conditioning.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Ext_window_shade_Florida_AWilson_8694_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Ext_window_shade_Florida_AWilson_8694_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>A simple exterior window shade in Florida that doesn't interfere with window operation. </strong><em>Click on image to enlarge.</em><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Welcome to summer. Burlington, Vermont hit a record 97°F the other day, and my place in West Dummerston reached 93°, with high humidity. What’s the best way to stay comfortable in weather like this—assuming that you’re not using mechanical air conditioning?</p> <p class="Standard">First, it’s important to understand that the goal isn’t really about temperature; it’s about comfort. Some very simple strategies can help you remain comfortable even with high air temperatures.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Dress for the conditions</strong></p> <p class="Standard">Light, loose-fitting clothes—and as few of them as possible—will help keep you cool in hot weather. Shorts, loose-fitting shirts, blouses, and dresses allow more air circulation next to your skin and will keep you cooler.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-cool" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-cool#comments Wed, 27 Jun 2012 15:11:07 +0000 Alex Wilson 10957 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Lawn Mowing Season http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/lawn-mowing-season <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">My quest for a greener lawn mowing option.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/BlackDecker_SPCM1936.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/BlackDecker_SPCM1936.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Black &amp; Deckers 36-volt battery-powered electric mower.</strong> <em>Click on image to enlarge.</em><br /><em>Photo Credit: Black &amp; Decker<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I’ve never liked mowing the lawn. And it’s not just because of the gasoline used in the process.</p> <p class="Standard">Lawns carry huge environmental burdens in this country, and we have a lot of them. I profiled some of these impacts once for an <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/1993/7/1/Reconsidering-the-American-Lawn/?">article in Environmental Building News</a> back in the 1990s. From the information I found then, the total lawn area in the U.S. is 50,000 square miles—an area larger than the state of New York. We spend $25 billion per year on their care. We dump 3-6 million tons of fertilizer on them, and the runoff from those lawns is one of the largest pollution problems in our lakes and rivers.</p> <p class="Standard">We apply something like 34,000 tons of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and other pesticides on them, accounting for a whopping 14% of total pesticide use in the U.S.—and 34% of insecticide use. On a per-acre basis, this amounts to about two pounds per year.</p> <p class="Standard">And while not as big an issue in Vermont as elsewhere, we use a huge amount of water maintaining our emerald-green oases. “Kentucky” bluegrass is not from Kentucky (it’s from Europe), and it takes about 40 inches of water per year to keep it that lush green we’ve come to know and love. In much of the country, irrigating lawns is the single largest consumptive use of water (we use a lot more water in cooling thermo-electric power plants, but most of that water is only “borrowed” for power generation, then returned to the source), often accounting for 40-60% of total municipal water use.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/lawn-mowing-season" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/lawn-mowing-season#comments Wed, 20 Jun 2012 02:36:42 +0000 Alex Wilson 10904 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Test Driving the New Brattleboro Food Co-op Building http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/test-driving-new-brattleboro-food-co-op-building <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Blower-door testing of the nearly complete Brattleboro Food Co-op building shows it to be remarkably tight.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/BlowerDoor_9781_6-13-12-MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/BlowerDoor_9781_6-13-12-MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Andy Shapiro (standing) and Terry Brennan set up a two-fan blower door for air tightness testing at the Brattleboro Co-op. Click on image to enlarge.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">The new <a href="http://www.brattleborofoodcoop.com/">Brattleboro Food Co-op</a> building with affordable housing on the top two floors is nearly completed, and we’ll be shopping there in just a week or two. So, how did the building turn out? Were the goals achieved? Are the mechanical systems going to work as intended? How effectively was the building envelope constructed?</p> <p class="Standard">We won’t know the answers to all of these questions for a while, but we do now know about one key measure of performance: the airtightness of the envelope. When most commercial buildings are completed (as well as houses, for that matter) there is no testing of airtightness. There should be. Through pressure-testing of a building, one learns all sorts of things about how well it was built and how tightly windows and doors keep out drafts, and how effectively various dampers on mechanical equipment perform.</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/test-driving-new-brattleboro-food-co-op-building" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/test-driving-new-brattleboro-food-co-op-building#comments Tue, 12 Jun 2012 15:22:24 +0000 Alex Wilson 10882 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Genuine Progress Indicators http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/genuine-progress-indicators <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Recognizing that GDP has significant limitations, Vermont has become the first state to formally embrace a "genuine progress indicator" as a metric of well-being.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/MayPond_8621_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/MayPond_8621_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>With the tracking of a GPI, there may be more incentive to protect beautiful places like May Pond in northern Vermont.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">The second annual <a href="http://www.slowlivingsummit.org/">Slow Living Summit</a> was held in Brattleboro this past week. Featuring such presenters as David Orr of Oberlin College, Woody Tasch, the founder of the organization <a href="http://www.slowmoney.org/">Slow Money</a>, and Charles Eisenstein, author of <em>Sacred Economics</em>, along with Governor Peter Shumlin, and Senator Bernie Sanders, the conference advanced alternatives to fast food, fast money, and the fast pace of life—with an emphasis on local food, local economies, resilient communities, and sustainability.</p> <p class="Standard">According to the Slow Living Summit website, <em>slow living</em> expresses the fundamental paradigm shift that is underway in this age, recognizing the transformative change from faster and cheaper, to slower and better—where quality, community and the future matter. It’s about slowing down and becoming more mindful of our basic connection with land, place, and people, taking the long view that builds a healthy and fulfilling way of life for the generations to come. It is about common good taking precedence over private gain.</p> <p class="Standard">While there were many inspiring sessions at the Slow Living Summit, I’ll focus here on just one: a session addressing alternative metrics of success: genuine progress indicators.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/genuine-progress-indicators" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/genuine-progress-indicators#comments Tue, 05 Jun 2012 18:42:59 +0000 Alex Wilson 10847 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com More Cool Products from the AIA Convention http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/more-cool-products-aia-convention <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3>Innovative energy-savings products from the AIA National Convention this month.</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Caramel-Bamboo_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Caramel-Bamboo_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>The energy-saving Haiku ceiling fan in bamboo.</strong> Click to enlarge.<br /><em>Photo Credit: Big Ass Fans<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">Last week, I wrote about a number of innovative window and glazing products I came across at the <a href="http://convention.aia.org/event/convention-home.aspx">AIA Convention</a> in Washington, DC earlier this month. Here are a few other products I came across with energy-saving features.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>Haiku fans from Big Ass Fans</strong></p> <p class="Standard">Despite the over-the-top company name, Big Ass Fans has been at the forefront of ceiling fan development for some years now. The company is known for it’s large, well, big-ass fans that are used in improving comfort in large commercial spaces—overhead fans that may have diameters of up to 24 feet. Now the company has introduced a line of smaller, residential-scale fans that work in homes.</p> <p class="Standard">Before getting into the specifics of the Haiku fans, it needs to be pointed out that ceiling fans don’t actually cool a space (i.e., lower the temperature). What they do is make a space more comfortable by evaporating moisture from our skin. If you are normally comfortable in a space at 75°F, with a gentle breeze you can be comfortable at 80° or even 82°F. Not only do ceiling fans not lower the air temperature, they actually <em>raise</em> the temperature slightly—from the waste heat generated by the electric motor (so turn that fan <em>off</em> when you leave the room!).</p> <p class="Standard"> </p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/more-cool-products-aia-convention" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/more-cool-products-aia-convention#comments Tue, 29 May 2012 12:53:16 +0000 Alex Wilson 10769 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Cool Window and Glazing Products from the AIA Convention http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cool-window-and-glazing-products-aia-convention <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3 class="Standard">Glazing and window manufacturers showed off some highly innovative products at the 2012 AIA Convention in Washington, DC</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Exterior_9469_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/Alexs_blog_images/Exterior_9469_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Pythagoras Solar's new <abbr title="Building-integrated photovoltaic systems use photovoltaic (PV) modules that are integrated into functional building elements, such as roofs, glazing, and building façades."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2579">BIPV</a></abbr> glass was one of two innovative glazing products on display at the Guardian booth at the AIA Convention. <em>Click on image to enlarge</em>.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <p class="Standard">I just spent three days at the American Institute of Architects <a href="http://convention.aia.org/event/convention-home.aspx">annual convention</a> in Washington, DC, including a fair amount of time at the massive trade show there. I didn’t make it all the way through the acres of exhibits over the eight hours or so I walked the floor, but I saw some really interesting products. I’m highlighting here a few of the windows and glazing-related products I found.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong>SunGuard PVGU from Pythagoras Solar and Guardian Industries</strong></p> <p class="Standard">Guardian Industries, one of the world’s largest glass manufacturers, showed off two new products at the show. One of these was a unique building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) glazing system developed by Pythagoras Solar and marketed by Guardian. Most BIPV Glazing systems have thin-film or crystalline PV cells integrated into the glass directly, so the visible transmittance and daylighting potential are significantly compromised. Pythagoras has developed a unique solution to this problem: an insulating glass unit (IGU) with integral bars of tiny PV cells&nbsp; that intercept most of the solar energy striking the outside of the glass.</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cool-window-and-glazing-products-aia-convention" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cool-window-and-glazing-products-aia-convention#comments Wed, 23 May 2012 20:20:21 +0000 Alex Wilson 10748 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Getting Around Without Fossil Fuels http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-around-without-fossil-fuels <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/BikeSharing_Portland_7648_awilson_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/BikeSharing_Portland_7648_awilson_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><strong>BikeSharing in Toronto. There are dozens of storage areas like this where members of Toronto's bikesharing organization can check out a bike</strong><strong>.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: Alex Wilson<br /></em></div> <h3 class="Standard">While challenging, it is possible to get away from our dependence on fossil fuels when it comes to our transportation needs</h3> <p class="Standard"><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-fossil-fuels">Last week </a>I laid out some arguments on why we should wean ourselves from fossil fuels, and offered some suggestions of how we could go about doing that in our homes—by superinsulating, switching to oil- and gas-free heating, and converting to renewable electricity. Those steps certainly aren’t easy or inexpensive, but there’s a pretty clear path for doing so.</p> <p class="Standard">With transportation it’s a lot more challenging, particularly in non-urban areas where we’re more dependent on automobiles. Petroleum is uniquely suited to fueling our cars and trucks. Gasoline and diesel are highly concentrated fuels that allow a little to go a long way. They are liquid at the conditions where we use them without putting them under pressure, so we can pump them into our fuel tanks relatively easily and with (relatively) low risk.</p> <p class="Standard">What are the options if we want to get off fossil fuels?</p> <p class="Standard"><strong></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-around-without-fossil-fuels" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-around-without-fossil-fuels#comments Tue, 15 May 2012 18:40:08 +0000 Alex Wilson 10699 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Getting Off Fossil Fuels http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-fossil-fuels <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3>Eliminating our use of fossil fuels is an admirable goal; how do we do that?</h3> <div><a href="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/EliakimsWay_Ext-022_350_pixels.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/Blog_Images/EliakimsWay_Ext-022_350_pixels.jpg" alt="" /></a> <strong>Eliakim's Way all-electric homes on Martha's Vineyard use roof-mounted PV modules to generate most (or all) of their energy needs on an annual basis.</strong><br /><em>Photo Credit: South Mountain Company<br /></em></div> <p>There are a lot of things not to like about fossil fuels. Most obviously, the burning of oil, natural gas, propane, and coal releases huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it traps heat through the greenhouse effect. Fossil fuels were created over hundreds of millions of years when vegetation accumulated in oxygen-poor conditions and did not fully decompose before being trapped underground. Heat and pressure gradually turned that organic matter (and its stored carbon) into these various carbon-rich fuels. When we burn those fuels to heat our homes, generate electricity, or power our cars, the hydrocarbon reacts with oxygen, converting the stored carbon into carbon dioxide, which causes global warming.</p> <p>But even if burning fossil fuels <em>didn’t</em> cause the release carbon dioxide and cause global warming (just for a moment, let’s say those <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr> deniers were right), there would still be plenty of reasons not to burn these fuels.</p> <p></p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-fossil-fuels" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-fossil-fuels#comments Tue, 08 May 2012 15:47:15 +0000 Alex Wilson 10645 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Story of BuildingGreen http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/story-buildinggreen <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Exterior_6111.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Exterior_6111.jpg" /></a><em>The BuildingGreen office today. This historic building that once housed the drafting and tuning rooms of the Estey Organ Company, has unique slate-shingle siding. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <h3>Reflections on the founding of BuildingGreen and our evolution as a company.</h3> <p>Last week, I reflected on Earth Day and how concern for the environment inspired me in school and then led to my focus on renewable energy starting in the mid-1970s. This brought me to Brattleboro in 1980 to work for the <a href="http://www.nesea.org/">Northeast Sustainable Energy Association</a>, which I did from 1980 through 1985. </p> <p>To continue:<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Exterior_6111.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=82878">Exterior_6111.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EBN_1-1_Welcome.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=225757">EBN_1-1_Welcome.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/story-buildinggreen" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/story-buildinggreen#comments Tue, 01 May 2012 14:00:00 +0000 Web Master 10616 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Earth Day and My Career Path to Sustainable Energy http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/earth-day-and-my-career-path-sustainable-energy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Silent_Spring_7611.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Silent_Spring_7611.jpg" /></a><em>Silent Spring, published 50 years ago, helped to launch the modern environment movement and inspired my career direction. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <h3>From early interest in conservation in the late-60s and being an Earth Day organizer in 1970, to my work with solar energy in New Mexico and then Vermont, I've followed a green career path.</h3> <p>With Earth Day this past Sunday, I'm inspired to reflect on what motivated me--some 45 years ago(!)--to focus on a career of environmental protection and improvement, a career that has led me to a significant focus on more sustainable energy solutions. Back in the late 1960s at age 12 or 13, I became immersed in "conservation" and decided that this would be my life career. This was before the modern "environmental" movement really began, and "conservation" was the term used to describe environmental protection.<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Silent_Spring_7611_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=133198">Silent_Spring_7611_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Save23_27.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22029">Save23_27.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Greenhouse_Wksp_NM_0051_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=250986">Greenhouse_Wksp_NM_0051_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/earth-day-and-my-career-path-sustainable-energy" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/earth-day-and-my-career-path-sustainable-energy#comments Tue, 24 Apr 2012 15:30:00 +0000 Web Master 10518 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Cutting-Edge Windows that Can Be Tinted on Demand http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cutting-edge-windows-can-be-tinted-demand <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//BallState-5.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//BallState-5.jpg" /></a><em>Here's the same space with the SageGlass roof in the tinted state. Photo: Sage Electrochromics. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//BallState-4.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//BallState-4.jpg" /></a><em>This atrium space at Ball State University has SageGlass in the glazed roof--shown here in its clear state. Photo: Sage Electrochromics. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <h3>The latest dynamic glazing from Sage Electrochromics allows variable tinting on demand.</h3> <p>I've examined state-of-the-art windows and glazing systems over the past four weeks. This week, I'll cover an innovative product that may help define the state-of-the-future: a dynamic glazing called SageGlass that can be tinted on demand. To understand what's so exciting about such a product, let's look at conventional high-performance windows.<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/BallState-5_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=133248">BallState-5_1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/BallState-4_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=132179">BallState-4_1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Save23_15.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22029">Save23_15.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Siemens_Hutchinson_KS__0034_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=103527">Siemens_Hutchinson_KS__0034_1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/GreenSpecGreenBanner_35.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=14278">GreenSpecGreenBanner_35.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cutting-edge-windows-can-be-tinted-demand" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cutting-edge-windows-can-be-tinted-demand#comments Wed, 18 Apr 2012 01:20:00 +0000 Web Master 10459 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Window Performance 4 – Dealing with edge losses http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/window-performance-4-dealing-edge-losses <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3>Warm-edge glazing spacers play a significant role in creating the highest-energy-performance windows.</h3> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Glassonweb.com_278_Triseal2(1).jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Glassonweb.com_278_Triseal2(1).jpg" /></a><em>Edgetech makes the Super Spacer silicone foam glazing spacer, which is the most effective spacer for slowing heat loss. Graphic: Edgetech. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Over the last three weeks I've focused on the major strategies for <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/Energy-Solutions">improving the energy performance of windows</a>: adding extra layers of glass, increasing the thickness of the airspace between the layers of glass, adding low-<abbr title="Emissivity is the ratio of the radiation emitted by a surface to the radiation emitted by a black body at the same temperature."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2359">emissivity</a></abbr> coatings, and replacing air with a low-conductivity gas fill. These strategies all help to reduce heat flow through an insulating glass unit (IGU), and if we do a really good job with these strategies we can achieve center-of-glass R-values of R-5 or higher.</p> <p>But these measures don't do much to improve the energy performance at the edges of an IGU.<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Glassonweb.com_278_Triseal2%25281%2529_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=63513">Glassonweb.com_278_Triseal2%281%29_1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/WindowNation_WarmEdge_1.gif" type="image/gif; length=63934">WindowNation_WarmEdge_1.gif</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/GreenSpecGreenBanner_36.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=14278">GreenSpecGreenBanner_36.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/window-performance-4-dealing-edge-losses" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/window-performance-4-dealing-edge-losses#comments Tue, 10 Apr 2012 18:45:00 +0000 Web Master 10418 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Do I Really Want Radioactive Windows? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/do-i-really-want-radioactive-windows <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//RMI_41511.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//RMI_41511.jpg" /></a><em>A state-of-the-art, multiple-<abbr title="Low-E or Low-Emissivity Coating: Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that reduces heat loss and heat gain through the window; the coating emits less radiant energy (heat radiation), which makes it, in effect, reflective to that heat. In that way it boosts a window's R-value and reduces its U-factor."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2440">low-e</a></abbr>-coating Serious Window with xenon gas fill being installed at the Rocky Mountain Institute. Photo: Rocky Mountain Institute. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <h3>An in-depth look at the fascinating world of low-conductivity gas-fill for high-performance windows.<br /> </h3> <p>Over the last two weeks I've covered the major strategies for improving the energy performance of windows: adding extra layers of glass, increasing the thickness of the airspace between the layers of glass, and adding low-<abbr title="Emissivity is the ratio of the radiation emitted by a surface to the radiation emitted by a black body at the same temperature."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2359">emissivity</a></abbr> coatings. Another important strategy is to use a low-conductivity gas instead of air in the space between the layers of glass. Most commonly argon is used, though krypton is available for the highest-performance windows, and xenon is occasionally used.<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/RMI_41511_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=171276">RMI_41511_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Ernst_GlazingSpace1_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=202044">Ernst_GlazingSpace1_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/GreenProductCertWebcastAdSquare_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=27904">GreenProductCertWebcastAdSquare_1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/do-i-really-want-radioactive-windows" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/do-i-really-want-radioactive-windows#comments Tue, 03 Apr 2012 15:12:00 +0000 Web Master 10328 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Window Performance – the Magic of Low-e Coatings http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/window-performance-magic-low-e-coatings <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//low_e_ii_image_by_marvin_architectural.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//low_e_ii_image_by_marvin_architectural.jpg" /></a><em><abbr title="Low-E or Low-Emissivity Coating: Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that reduces heat loss and heat gain through the window; the coating emits less radiant energy (heat radiation), which makes it, in effect, reflective to that heat. In that way it boosts a window's R-value and reduces its U-factor."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2440">Low-e</a></abbr> coatings reduce heat transfer through windows by limiting the amount of radiant energy they emit. Graphic: Marvin Windows. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2012/3/20/Shedding-Light-on-Window-Performance--Part-1">Last week</a> I wrote about the early strategies window manufacturers employed to improve energy performance: adding extra layers of glass and increasing the thickness of the airspace between the layers of glass. This week we'll look at a more revolutionary change to window design that appeared in the 1980s: low-<abbr title="Emissivity is the ratio of the radiation emitted by a surface to the radiation emitted by a black body at the same temperature."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2359">emissivity</a></abbr> coatings.<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/low_e_ii_image_by_marvin_architectural_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=30684">low_e_ii_image_by_marvin_architectural_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/GreenProductCertWebcastAdSquare_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=27904">GreenProductCertWebcastAdSquare_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/window-performance-magic-low-e-coatings" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/window-performance-magic-low-e-coatings#comments Tue, 27 Mar 2012 20:58:00 +0000 Web Master 10253 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Revolution in Window Performance - Part One http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/revolution-window-performance-part-one <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Tri Pane.JPG" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Tri Pane.JPG" /></a><em>This Marvin Tri-pane window has three panes of glass, creating two dead air spaces. Photo: Marvin Windows. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>I've been working for the past couple weeks on a report on windows--the latest in BuildingGreen's series of special reports on green building (the last one covering <a href="https://www.buildinggreen.com/landing/insulation/">insulation</a>). This focus has reminded me just how much we expect of our windows and what an amazing job they do.</p> <p>First, let's look at everything that windows are expected to do: They provide us with views to the outdoors--whether of drifting snow on a frigid winter morning or kids playing in the backyard in mid-summer. They block the escape of heat and prevent condensation on the glass. They keep out wind-driven rain.</p> <p>On the south side of our homes, especially in colder climates, windows are often expected to transmit beneficial solar heat, helping keep us warm. Yet, in warmer climates--and often on the west and east sides of our houses in more northern climates--we want windows to block the entry of unwanted solar gain.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Tri_Pane_0.JPG" type="image/jpeg; length=564815">Tri_Pane_0.JPG</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/AD10_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12690">AD10_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Ernst_GlazingSpace_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=202044">Ernst_GlazingSpace_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Vaxjo-wooden_MedRes_9315_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=324340">Vaxjo-wooden_MedRes_9315_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_73.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_73.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/revolution-window-performance-part-one" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/revolution-window-performance-part-one#comments Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:55:00 +0000 Web Master 10190 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com German Innovation in Solar Water Heating http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/german-innovation-solar-water-heating <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Thermie-Pakete-22.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Thermie-Pakete-22.jpg" /></a><em>With the SECUSOL drainback solar hot water system, the heat exchanger coil in the tank doubles as the drainback tank. Photo: Wagner &amp; Company. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em> </div> <p>I was in Boston last week for the annual <a href="http://www.nesea.org/be12/">Building Energy conference</a>, sponsored by the <a href="http://www.nesea.org/">Northeast Sustainable Energy Association</a>. Each year this conference provides an opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues, catch up on leading-edge building design, and learn about product innovations in energy conservation and renewable energy.</p> <p>I was amazed to see the large number of European companies represented in the conference trade show, with most of the leading innovation in windows, biomass heating, and solar energy seeming to come from Germany.<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Thermie-Pakete-22_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=780383">Thermie-Pakete-22_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/AD7_12.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=18920">AD7_12.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Thermie-Anwendungen-01_MedRes_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=442049">Thermie-Anwendungen-01_MedRes_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/InsulationSmallBanner_11.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=13582">InsulationSmallBanner_11.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/german-innovation-solar-water-heating" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/german-innovation-solar-water-heating#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2012 15:28:00 +0000 Web Master 10129 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Traffic Calming – Saving Lives and Saving Energy http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/traffic-calming-saving-lives-and-saving-energy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CanalStreet_After.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CanalStreet_After.jpg" /></a><em>An artist rendering of what Canal Street in Brattleboro could look like after major redesign to make it more pedestrian friendly; see below for a current photo. Source: Brattleboro Active Living Workshop Report. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Brattleboro, Vermont hasn't been a good place to be a pedestrian recently. In the past nine months there have been nine accidents in which pedestrians were hit by vehicles, including two fatalities (one immediate and the other from injuries six weeks later).</p> <p>While recent events make us focus close to home, pedestrian safety is a widespread problem. Nationwide in 2009, there were 4,092 pedestrians killed by vehicles and 59,000 accidents. Those pedestrian fatalities represented 12% of all traffic deaths. In addition, there were 630 bicyclists killed in collisions with motor vehicles in 2009 and 51,000 injuries.</p> <p>So, what can we do about it?<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CanalStreet_After.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=583803">CanalStreet_After.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CanalStreet_Current.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=611047">CanalStreet_Current.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/NarrowStreet_Manch_Burden.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=296123">NarrowStreet_Manch_Burden.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/MiniCircle_007_Burden.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=344576">MiniCircle_007_Burden.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/traffic-calming-saving-lives-and-saving-energy" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/traffic-calming-saving-lives-and-saving-energy#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2012 12:50:00 +0000 Web Master 10091 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com How Much Insulation Is Enough? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-much-insulation-enough <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Whitmore_RaisingWall_LoRes2.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Whitmore_RaisingWall_LoRes2.jpg" /></a><em>Most leading energy experts today recommend installing a lot more insulation than is common practice. This wall for a Passive House in Seattle will hold about a foot of insulation. Source: Dan Whitmore. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>I'm often asked the question, "How much insulation should I install in my house"? It's a great question. Let me offer some recommendations:</p> <p>First of all...it depends. It depends to a significant extent on where you live. And it depends on whether we're talking about a new house or trying to squeeze insulation into an existing house. Let's assume, for the time being, that we're talking about new construction to simplify the discussion.<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Whitmore_RaisingWall_LoRes2_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=143756">Whitmore_RaisingWall_LoRes2_1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/DOE_ClimateZones_973_MedRes_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=626789">DOE_ClimateZones_973_MedRes_1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/InsulationWebcastOrangeSquare_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=27259">InsulationWebcastOrangeSquare_2.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-much-insulation-enough" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-much-insulation-enough#comments Tue, 28 Feb 2012 16:10:00 +0000 Web Master 10007 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Good News Bad News With Climate Change http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/good-news-bad-news-climate-change <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Betts_Summer-Winter_Trends_1279215989.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Betts_Summer-Winter_Trends_1279215989.jpg" /></a><em>Vermont's winter and summer temperatures are both rising. Source: Alan Betts, Ph.D. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>During these spring-like days in mid-February in Vermont, it's hard not to think about <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>. It's been reaching the mid- and upper-40s over the past few weeks in a winter that really isn't. Yes, this particular year might be an anomaly (after all, Europe is experiencing record cold this winter), but increasingly, scientists believe the long-term trend is clearly warming.</p> <p>The good news with a warmer-than-normal winter in a cold climate is that homeowners save a lot on heating costs and, with a lack of snow, municipalities spend less for snow removal. Sure the ski and tourism industries suffers from winter-deficit, but at least we save some money.<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Betts_Summer-Winter_Trends_1279215989_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=190886">Betts_Summer-Winter_Trends_1279215989_1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/VT_ShiftingSouth_Summer_AlanBetts_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=78041">VT_ShiftingSouth_Summer_AlanBetts_1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Florida_shading_8693_MedRes_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=519294">Florida_shading_8693_MedRes_1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/good-news-bad-news-climate-change" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/good-news-bad-news-climate-change#comments Tue, 21 Feb 2012 15:40:00 +0000 Web Master 9940 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Local Food and Resilience http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/local-food-and-resilience <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Resilient Design </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Kingsbury_8-12-11_6931_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Kingsbury_8-12-11_6931_MedRes.jpg" /></a><em>The highly productive Kingsbury Farm in Waitsfield, Vermont in mid-August, 2011. Note the tracking PV modules in the background. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>In this final installment of my <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/Energy-Solutions">ten-part series on resilient design</a>, I'm taking a look at where our food comes from and how we can achieve more resilient food systems.</p> <p>The average salad in the U.S. is transported roughly 1,400 miles from farm to table, and here in the Northeast, we get most of our fresh food from more than 3,000 miles away. Even in Iowa, where 95% of the land area is in agricultural production, one is hard-pressed to buy locally grown produce.<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Kingsbury_8-12-11_6931_MedRes_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=725437">Kingsbury_8-12-11_6931_MedRes_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Kingsbury_7-1-11_6610_MedRes_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=460726">Kingsbury_7-1-11_6610_MedRes_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Kingsbury_8-12-11_6959_MedRes_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=490694">Kingsbury_8-12-11_6959_MedRes_2.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/local-food-and-resilience" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/local-food-and-resilience#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2012 16:30:00 +0000 Web Master 9903 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Resilient Communities http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-communities <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Resilient Design </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Annapolis.Brick019_Burden2.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Annapolis.Brick019_Burden2.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>A pedestrian-friendly, walkable community was created in Annapolis, Maryland, making getting around without cars much more feasible. Photo: Dan Burden. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>In this ninth installment of my <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/Energy-Solutions">ten-part series on resilient design</a> I'm focusing beyond individual buildings to the community scale. Following a natural disaster or other problem that results in widespread power outages or interruptions in vehicle access or fuel supplies, people need to work together. We saw that throughout Vermont with Tropical Storm Irene last year when some communities were cut off for a week or more. Where there were cohesive communities in place--where people knew their neighbors and worked cooperatively on issues of common concern--dealing with the crisis was a lot easier. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Annapolis.Brick019_Burden2_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=197995">Annapolis.Brick019_Burden2_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Bikes_Lund_8767_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=326121">Bikes_Lund_8767_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Save23_28.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22029">Save23_28.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Toronto_7656_MedRes_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=453713">Toronto_7656_MedRes_2.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-communities" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-communities#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2012 16:55:00 +0000 Web Master 9830 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Resilient Design: Water in a Drought-Prone Era http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-water-drought-prone-era <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Resilient Design </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Militec1.com_DustStorm.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Militec1.com_DustStorm.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>July, 2011 dust storm in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo: Militec, Inc. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Periodic drought is something that a significant portion of the U.S. will have to get used to in the coming decades. Climate scientists tell us that while precipitation will increase overall with <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>, certain regions, including the American West, will see increased frequency of drought. <br /> <br />I certainly saw that last year, when I spent six weeks <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2011/12/6/What-I-Did-on-My-Summer-Vacation">bicycling through the Southwest</a>, from San Diego to Houston. Most of the 1,900 miles I covered had seen barely a drop of rain since the previous fall. Statewide, Texas had an average of just 15 inches of rain in 2011--barely half of the typical rainfall. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Militec1.com_DustStorm_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=323978">Militec1.com_DustStorm_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/stealth_1_MedRes_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=164016">stealth_1_MedRes_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Save23_32.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22029">Save23_32.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CBF_rainwater_tanks_LowRes_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=79426">CBF_rainwater_tanks_LowRes_2.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-water-drought-prone-era" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-water-drought-prone-era#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2012 23:00:00 +0000 Web Master 9737 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Resilient Design: Emergency Renewable Energy Systems http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-emergency-renewable-energy-systems <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Resilient Design </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//PelletStove_3279-LoRes1.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//PelletStove_3279-LoRes1.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Our pellet stove has DC fans and a kit that allows us to hook it up to a battery to power those fans in the event of a power outage. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>House location and design are the starting points in achieving resilience--where the house located, how well it can weather storms and flooding, and how effectively it retains heat and utilizes passive solar for heating and daylighting. Beyond that, we should look to more active renewable energy systems for back-up heat, water heating, and electricity. This week we'll review these options. <br /> <br /><strong>Wood stoves <br /></strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/PelletStove_3279-LoRes1_3.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=352260">PelletStove_3279-LoRes1_3.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Danforth_Grafton_VT_1619_LoRes_3.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=392963">Danforth_Grafton_VT_1619_LoRes_3.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/SDHW_7839_3.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=528728">SDHW_7839_3.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_6.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_6.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-emergency-renewable-energy-systems" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-emergency-renewable-energy-systems#comments Tue, 24 Jan 2012 21:20:00 +0000 Web Master 9644 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Resilient Design: Natural Cooling http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-natural-cooling <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Resilient Design </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Ext_window_shade_Florida_AWilson_8694_MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Ext_window_shade_Florida_AWilson_8694_MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>This exterior window shade in Florida blocks most of the solar gain, yet allows some view out. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Over the past month-and-a-half, I've been focusing on resilient design--which will become all the more important in this age of <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>. Achieving resilience in homes not only involves keeping them comfortable in the winter months through lots of insulation and some passive solar gain (which I've covered in the <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/Energy-Solutions">previous two blogs</a>), it also involves keeping them from getting too hot in the summer months if we lose power and our air conditioning systems stop working. This week, despite the freezing weather, we'll look at cooling-load-avoidance strategies and natural ventilation. <br /> <br /><strong>Orientation and building geometry <br /></strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Ext_window_shade_Florida_AWilson_8694_MedRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=396679">Ext_window_shade_Florida_AWilson_8694_MedRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/GreenSpecGreenBanner_32.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=14278">GreenSpecGreenBanner_32.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-natural-cooling" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-natural-cooling#comments Tue, 17 Jan 2012 21:30:00 +0000 Web Master 9598 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Resilient Design: Passive Solar Heat http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-passive-solar-heat <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Resilient Design </div> </div> </div> <h3>Passive solar design is a key element of creating resilient homes.</h3> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//McNeice_Ext_P1000404.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//McNeice_Ext_P1000404.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>A passive solar home in Halifax, Vermont. High-<abbr title="Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC): The fraction of solar gain admitted through a window, expressed as a number between 0 and 1."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2510">SHGC</a></abbr>, triple-glazed, south-facing windows were used to improve the direct-gain passive solar performance. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>As I discussed in last week's blog, a resilient home is extremely well-insulated, so that it can be kept warm with very little supplemental heat--and if power or heating fuel is lost, for some reason, there won't be risk of homeowners getting dangerously cold or their pipes freezing. If we design and orient the house in such a way that natural heating from the sun can occur, we add to that resilience and further reduce the risk of the house getting too cold in the winter. <br /> <br /><strong>Passive solar heating</strong> <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/McNeice_Ext_P1000404_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=523004">McNeice_Ext_P1000404_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/AD7_14.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=18920">AD7_14.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_70.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_70.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-passive-solar-heat" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-passive-solar-heat#comments Tue, 10 Jan 2012 16:50:00 +0000 Web Master 9562 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Resilient Design: Dramatically Better Building Envelopes http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-dramatically-better-building-envelopes <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Resilient Design </div> </div> </div> <h3>A resilient home is a highly energy-efficient home that will maintain livable conditions even during power outages or interruptions in heating fuel.</h3> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//SW_CornerFraming-MedRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//SW_CornerFraming-MedRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>A superinsulated "Passive House" being built by Dan Whitmore in Seattle. These wall trusses provide about a foot of insulation. Photo: Dan Whitmore. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>When most people think about resilience--resilience to storms or terrorism, for example--they think only about resilience <em>during</em> the event. Equally important, if not more important, I believe, is resilience in the <em>aftermath</em> 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. <br /> <br />The same goes for terrorist actions; some suggest that smarter terrorists of the future may target our energy infrastructure or hack into power system controls to wreak havoc (cyberterrorism). <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/SW_CornerFraming-MedRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=452986">SW_CornerFraming-MedRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/InsulationSmallBanner_12.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=13582">InsulationSmallBanner_12.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-dramatically-better-building-envelopes" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilient-design-dramatically-better-building-envelopes#comments Tue, 03 Jan 2012 17:20:00 +0000 Web Master 9487 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Resilience: Designing Smarter Houses http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilience-designing-smarter-houses <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Resilient Design </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//FlatStreet_Irene_CharlieBoswell.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//FlatStreet_Irene_CharlieBoswell.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>On August 28th Tropical Storm Irene flooded downtown Brattleboro, totally submerging Flat Street. Photo: Charlie Boswell. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>As we look to create homes and communities that will keep us comfortable and safe in a world of <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>, terrorism, and other vulnerabilities, there are a handful of strategies that I group loosely under the heading of "smarter design." Some of these strategies come into play more at the land-use planning scale, or are relevant only in certain locations that are at risk of flooding, but all are worth thinking about when planning a new home. <br /> <br /><strong>Where we build <br /></strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FlatStreet_Irene_CharlieBoswell_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=320251">FlatStreet_Irene_CharlieBoswell_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Save23_29.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22029">Save23_29.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_68.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_68.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilience-designing-smarter-houses" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilience-designing-smarter-houses#comments Tue, 27 Dec 2011 12:55:00 +0000 Web Master 9417 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Resilience: Designing Homes for More Intense Storms http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilience-designing-homes-more-intense-storms <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Resilient Design </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Route4_Killington-Mendon_LarsGange_&amp;_MansfieldHeliflight_LG9_9839.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Route4_Killington-Mendon_LarsGange_&amp;_MansfieldHeliflight_LG9_9839.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Route 4 near Killington, Vermont was closed for more than a month due to flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. Photo: Lars Gange and Mansfield Heliflight. Click on image to enlarge.</em></div> <p>Anyone who was in Vermont in late August of this year and witnessed the raging floodwaters from Hurricane Irene and the havoc they wreaked, gained an intimate view of the vulnerabilities we face from intense storms and flooding. Hundreds of miles of roadway were heavily damaged, dozens of bridges washed away, and some communities were cut off for weeks. Vermont is not alone. Throughout the Northeast, there was a 67% increase in heavy rainfall events (defined as the heaviest 1% of all rainfall events) from 1958 to 2007, according to the multi-agency <a href="http://www.globalchange.gov/">U.S. Global Change Research Program</a>. <br /> <br />Climate scientists tell us to get used to it. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Route4_Killington-Mendon_LarsGange_%2526_MansfieldHeliflight_LG9_9839_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=529572">Route4_Killington-Mendon_LarsGange_%26_MansfieldHeliflight_LG9_9839_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Save23_33.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22029">Save23_33.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Simpson_Strong-Tie_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=86724">Simpson_Strong-Tie_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/SafeRoom_SiouxCity_Iowa_DaveGatley_FEMA_9065_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=67430">SafeRoom_SiouxCity_Iowa_DaveGatley_FEMA_9065_4.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilience-designing-homes-more-intense-storms" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/resilience-designing-homes-more-intense-storms#comments Tue, 20 Dec 2011 16:30:00 +0000 Web Master 9408 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Making the Case for Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-case-resilient-design <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Resilient Design </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//4274_AermotorWindmill_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//4274_AermotorWindmill_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a>Most of the area I biked through last spring was parched, including this ranch in New Mexico.</div> <p>During my six-week bike ride last spring, I covered nearly 2,000 miles, most of it over land that hadn't seen a drop of rain since the previous fall; some of those areas--mostly in Texas--still haven't gotten significant precipitation. Farmers in Texas have had to plow their cotton under or slaughter their cattle. If the drought continues through the winter, power plants may have to start shutting down for want of cooling water. <br /> <br />Meanwhile, the Amtrak train that I was going to take home from Houston was cancelled due to extensive flooding in the Upper Midwest. And back in Vermont, at the end of August, we saw whole towns cut off by flooding and washed-out bridges and roads from Tropical Storm Irene. An early snow storm in October caused power outages in Connecticut and Massachusetts that lasted up to a week-and-a-half.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/4274_AermotorWindmill_LoRes_3.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=421589">4274_AermotorWindmill_LoRes_3.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Save23_36.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22029">Save23_36.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-case-resilient-design" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Resilient Design http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-case-resilient-design#comments Tue, 13 Dec 2011 23:00:00 +0000 Web Master 9354 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com What I Did on My Summer Vacation http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-i-did-my-summer-vacation <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//4761_Route118_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//4761_Route118_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a>All alone on Route 118, approaching the Davis Mountains in West Texas.</div> <p><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2011/3/15/Another-Kind-of-Energy-Solution">Back in March</a> I reported that I would be taking leave from this blog as I embarked on an eight-month sabbatical. With support from the <a href="http://www.ecohomemagazine.com/news/2010/07-july/alex-wilson-selected-for-the-2010-hanley-award-for-vision-and-leadership-in-sustainable-housing.aspx">Hanley Award</a> I received last year, I was able to take an unpaid leave from BuildingGreen, Inc., for some rejuvenation, reflection, research, and writing. <br /> <br />I did all that, and my colleague, Tristan Roberts, kindly (and ably) took over this blog while I was out of commission. Now I'm back, invigorated by the time off and inspired by my work during the sabbatical. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/4761_Route118_LoRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=432193">4761_Route118_LoRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/BorderFence_3652_LoRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=444388">BorderFence_3652_LoRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/3932_HassayampaRiver_LoRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=685237">3932_HassayampaRiver_LoRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/4249_HomeSweetHome_LoRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=688913">4249_HomeSweetHome_LoRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/4584_RisingOutOfHisslboro_LookingBack_LoRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=363719">4584_RisingOutOfHisslboro_LookingBack_LoRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/4594_WindPickingUp_Route187_LoRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=291665">4594_WindPickingUp_Route187_LoRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/5019_FemalePronghorn_LoRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=362646">5019_FemalePronghorn_LoRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/4868_JohnKuehne_LoRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=388861">4868_JohnKuehne_LoRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/4636_ElPaso_LoRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=482918">4636_ElPaso_LoRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/3795_FloorIrrigation_LoRes_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=513154">3795_FloorIrrigation_LoRes_4.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-i-did-my-summer-vacation" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-i-did-my-summer-vacation#comments Wed, 07 Dec 2011 00:30:00 +0000 Web Master 9344 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com When Smells Signal Building Science Problems http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/when-smells-signal-building-science-problems <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//mold1.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>A victim of a hepatitis E infection she picked up unknowingly in Brazil, Genevive Bjorn's liver rebelled against her one night in Hawaii. Her body almost shut down on her, but with help from the hospital, a battery of tests, her watchful boyfriend at her side, and a diet of nothing but rice porridge, she squeaked through.</p> <p>This is what happened next, as <a href="www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/health/views/19case.html">she wrote last year in <em>The New York Times</em></a>: "My liver began barking at smells and substances I'd barely noticed before. I considered myself an earthy minimalist, but my house turned out to be a chemical minefield. I developed a doglike olfactory sense that guided me as I sniffed, recoiled and pointed out to Adam what had to go. He tossed out most of our bathroom and kitchen products, along with everything preserved or petroleum-based."</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/mold1_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=34774">mold1_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EBNcertAd3_12.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=27629">EBNcertAd3_12.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/when-smells-signal-building-science-problems" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/when-smells-signal-building-science-problems#comments Wed, 30 Nov 2011 06:00:00 +0000 Web Master 9319 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Webcast: How to make the right insulation choices for your specific building applications http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/webcast-how-make-right-insulation-choices-your-specific-building-applications <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <h3><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/landing/insulation_webinar/images/insulation_bright.jpg" alt="" align="right" />BuildingGreen presents a FREE 1-Hour Webcast on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 2 p.m. EST</h3> <p>To help professionals make the best design and material choices for their specific projects (and budgets), BuildingGreen recently developed and released the Guide to Insulation Products and Practices.</p> <p>The report emphasizes that there are no universal right or wrong answers. Instead, it offers guidance to support appropriate material choices -- as well as best practices -- depending on the project and budget.</p> <h3><a href="https://buildinggreen.webex.com/mw0306ld/mywebex/default.do?nomenu=true&amp;siteurl=buildinggreen&amp;service=6&amp;rnd=0.5485161374822612&amp;main_url=https%3A%2F%2Fbuildinggreen.webex.com%2Fec0605ld%2Feventcenter%2Fevent%2FeventAction.do%3FtheAction%3Ddetail%26confViewID%3D280135320%26siteurl%3Dbuildinggreen%26%26%26">Register Today!</a></h3> <p>On December 7th, BuildingGreen is offering a live webcast in which author Alex Wilson discusses the key findings of this report, and offer guidance on insulation choices -- as well as discussion and background. If you are confronted with choosing insulation in an upcoming building project, you won't want to miss this event.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/insulation_bright_5.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=7337">insulation_bright_5.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/webcast-how-make-right-insulation-choices-your-specific-building-applications" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/webcast-how-make-right-insulation-choices-your-specific-building-applications#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2011 19:42:00 +0000 Web Master 9277 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Research Finds New Solar Power Technology http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/research-finds-new-solar-power-technology <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Alden.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h3>New ways to make and save energy, from university research</h3> <p>An environmentalist dies and reports to the pearly gates, but there is a mix-up and she is sent to the gates of hell. Once in hell, she is horrified by the air and water pollution, global warming, and habitat destruction. But she gets to work and soon the hellscape is covered with grass and plants, the food is organic, the air is clean, and the people are happy.</p> <p>One day, God calls Satan up on the telephone and says with a sneer, "So, how's it going down there in hell?" Satan tells God about the improvements brought by the environmentalist and God says, "What? You've got an environmentalist? That's a mistake--send her up here or I'll sue." Satan laughs and answers, "Yeah, right. And just where are you going to get a lawyer?"</p> <p>It takes all types to deal with our environmental problems--and today I'd like to focus on the researchers who are toiling away in laboratories, trying to eke out greater efficiencies from technologies that most of us never give any thought to. Here are some recent highlights from the pages of Environmental Building News. (Want to keep up with more stories like this? <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/news/index.cfm">Subscribe to EBN!</a>)</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Alden_3.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=48593">Alden_3.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/coating_3.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=78636">coating_3.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Agilyx_3.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=85416">Agilyx_3.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/clay_flame_retardant_3.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=38069">clay_flame_retardant_3.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_58.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_58.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/research-finds-new-solar-power-technology" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/research-finds-new-solar-power-technology#comments Tue, 08 Nov 2011 02:49:00 +0000 Web Master 9199 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A Heating Fuel Cost Comparison "App" http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-fuel-cost-comparison-app <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.BuildingGreen.com/calc/fuel_cost.cfm"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//cost calculator.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p>I recently caught up with where the rest of the world was in 2005 by watching the hit documentary "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/movie?v=8RtGSbv-56w&amp;ob=av1n&amp;feature=mv_sr">March of the Penguins</a>." It's been on my list for a while but when evening arrives I'm much more prone to watching films about people--people like James Bond, for example. But my wife and I had a baby two weeks ago, and suddenly movies narrated by Morgan Freeman seem like more appropriate family fare.</p> <p>My only quibble with the movie is the name: it would be more accurate to call it "Commute of the Penguins." I had understood that the movie was about this extraordinary 70-mile walk that Emperor Penguins undertake once a year to get to their Antarctic breeding ground. I learned from the movie, though, that they go back and forth several times, with the parents taking turns to get food while the other does childcare. (Tip to dads: don't let your offspring freeze while mom is out catching fish for dinner.) </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/cost_calculator_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=93060">cost_calculator_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-fuel-cost-comparison-app" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-fuel-cost-comparison-app#comments Mon, 24 Oct 2011 02:51:00 +0000 Web Master 8991 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Girl Eats Bug: The Case for Entomophagy (Insect-Eating) and Sustainability http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/girl-eats-bug-case-entomophagy-insect-eating-and-sustainability <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Scorpcucpcakes.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>The Large Blue Butterfly, found in Europe, lays its eggs on a marsh gentian leaf. Its larva (a caterpillar) hatches and falls to the ground and emits a scent that smells to certain species of ant just like its own larvae. The ants carry the caterpillar back to their nest, where they not only care for it as one of their own, but as one of their own that is going to turn into a queen. Meanwhile, the caterpillar is eating the actual ant larvae and growing large.</p> <p>Enter the ichneumon wasp, which can somehow detect ant colonies that have been invaded in this way. The wasp flies into the ant colony and sprays a pheromone that causes the ants to attack each other. In the melee, the wasp finds the caterpillar in the larval chamber and injects its own eggs into the caterpillar. Those eggs later hatch during the butterfly's chrysalis stage, consuming it from the inside and later coming forth as wasps.</p> <p>Interactions like these between ants and other species are so common that there is a word for them: <em>myrmecophily</em>.</p> <p>Interactions between Americans and insects are also very common, and are known by the following words: <em>gross</em>, <em>EEW!</em>, <em>splat</em>, and <em>squish</em>.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Scorpcucpcakes_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=101375">Scorpcucpcakes_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/cabbagepeasncrickets_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=930423">cabbagepeasncrickets_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/iheartmouthbugs_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=29065">iheartmouthbugs_2.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/girl-eats-bug-case-entomophagy-insect-eating-and-sustainability" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/girl-eats-bug-case-entomophagy-insect-eating-and-sustainability#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2011 23:41:00 +0000 Web Master 9004 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Public Lukewarm About the Smart Grid, Despite Benefits http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/public-lukewarm-about-smart-grid-despite-benefits <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//smart-electricity-meter.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>I had the honor of being within a few feet of a barn owl this weekend at the wildlife festival at the <a href="http://www.vermontmuseum.org/">Southern Vermont Natural History Museum</a>. Kept alive after being injured years ago and now a frequent visitor to classrooms and museums, this bird of prey was perched on the arm of a handler, who wore thick falconry gloves.</p> <p>Unlike hawks and eagles, which hunt by sight and chase down their prey at great speed, the barn owl can hunt entirely by sound, and uses velvety-soft wings to glide in for the surprise catch. To help locate mice in snow, leaves, or hay, barn owls have asymmetrically placed ears: instead of being opposite each other, as human ears are, barn owl ears are 15 degrees above and below center. The minute time difference--as little as 0.00003 seconds--at which sound hits the ears allows the owl to triangulate and tell whether the mouse is left or right, near or far, and up or down.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/smart-electricity-meter_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=17400">smart-electricity-meter_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EBNcertAd3_11.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=27629">EBNcertAd3_11.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Radio_0.gif" type="image/gif; length=51775">Radio_0.gif</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_60.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_60.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/public-lukewarm-about-smart-grid-despite-benefits" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/public-lukewarm-about-smart-grid-despite-benefits#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2011 20:00:00 +0000 Web Master 9006 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Net-Zero Energy Families Show How It's Done http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/net-zero-energy-families-show-how-its-done <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//coal-v-methane.jpg" target="_blank"> <img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//coal-v-methane.jpg" alt="" /> </a> <em>Shifting from coal to natural gas would have limited impacts on climate, new research indicates. If methane leaks from natural gas operations could be kept to 2.5% or less, the increase in global temperatures would be reduced by about 0.1 degree Celsius by 2100. The reduction in global temperatures would be more minor with higher methane leakage rates. (Courtesy Springer, modified by UCAR.)</em></div> <p>Saturday found me helping a friend install new batteries for another friend's off-the-grid solar power system. We had fun getting the system back up and running and watching the solar-powered watts come in on a beautiful September day.</p> <p>At one point my friend asked me to use his multimeter to read the voltage of the batteries. No problem: I put the two testing probes in place on the batteries and got the desired reading. He then asked me to reverse the probes to see if the reading also reversed, as expected.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/coal-v-methane.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=276898">coal-v-methane.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EBNcertAd3_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=27629">EBNcertAd3_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Eliakim.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=134048">Eliakim.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_61.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_61.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/net-zero-energy-families-show-how-its-done" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/net-zero-energy-families-show-how-its-done#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2011 16:07:00 +0000 Web Master 9011 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Utility Wind Energy: Worth the Environmental Impacts? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/utility-wind-energy-worth-environmental-impacts <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//KCWGravelPit.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Correction:</strong> The author has posted a comment (see below) clarifying the likely width of the ridgeline road associated with this project.</p> <p>One of my favorite pieces of Vermont trivia has been that the tallest manmade structure in the state is the Bennington Battle Monument, at 306 feet tall--and construction of it was completed in 1889</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/KCWGravelPit.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=24153">KCWGravelPit.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Save23_20.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22029">Save23_20.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Sheffield.JPG" type="image/jpeg; length=178688">Sheffield.JPG</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_72.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_72.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/utility-wind-energy-worth-environmental-impacts" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/utility-wind-energy-worth-environmental-impacts#comments Tue, 13 Sep 2011 16:42:00 +0000 Web Master 9013 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Building Tips for Reducing Flood Risks http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/building-tips-reducing-flood-risks <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Tom%20house%20flood1.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>A lot can change in two hours. At 8 a.m. Sunday, I walked the length of our half-mile driveway here in southern Vermont, checking the culverts and water bars, all fortified and cleared the day before. All good. The brook next to our driveway was raging, but staying within its banks. The Green River was doing the same across the town road.</p> <p>At 10 a.m., I got a call from my neighbor that my other neighbor's house was flooding and they'd had to get out. Going back down the driveway with the hope of helping them, I found that the brook had grown to 10 times its usual width, filling the valley that this tranquil little brook usually meanders through. The Green River had done the same, covering the road and making it impossible to get anywhere. Friends who had been excited about rafting the swollen rivers canceled their plans after watching whole trees float by, and hearing boulders roll through the river.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Tom_house_flood1_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=0">Tom_house_flood1_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Tom_house1_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=0">Tom_house1_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/garage_undermined1_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=0">garage_undermined1_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/building-tips-reducing-flood-risks" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/building-tips-reducing-flood-risks#comments Tue, 06 Sep 2011 16:17:00 +0000 Web Master 9018 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Garbage Disposals and Worms Face Off Over Environmental Food Waste Disposal http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/garbage-disposals-and-worms-face-over-environmental-food-waste-disposal <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//vermicomposting-1.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h3>Composting and waste-to-energy are winners in a new study of food disposal options.</h3> <p>I have been having a lot of fun feeding worms my garbage. We have something you could either call a "worm bin" or a "home vermicomposting system," and we throw our food scraps, banana peels, melon rinds, moldy bread--you name it--into that. There are a couple pounds of worms in the bin, and they gratefully accept the waste, eat it, and turn it into worm castings, which is basically organic matter that is broken down in such a way that it's very good for our garden.</p> <p>Here's how it works. I started with two pounds of redworms, purchased from <a href="http://www.greenmountainsoil.com/">Green Mountain Soil</a>. I set up a plastic bin with a few buckets of partially rotted horse manure. This serves as the worm "bedding." Whenever our compost crock is full, I take it into the basement, dig a hole in the bedding, empty the crock, and cover it with a bit of bedding. Within a couple weeks, it's gone. For more information, the classic how-to book on the topic is <a href="http://www.wormwoman.com/acatalog/Wormwoman_catalog_Worms_Eat_My_Garbage_3.html">"Worms Eat My Garbage" by the "worm woman," Mary Appelhof</a>.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/vermicomposting-1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=28464">vermicomposting-1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/InSinkErator-Evolution-Essential-Garbage-Disposal.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=14388">InSinkErator-Evolution-Essential-Garbage-Disposal.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_66.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_66.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/garbage-disposals-and-worms-face-over-environmental-food-waste-disposal" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/garbage-disposals-and-worms-face-over-environmental-food-waste-disposal#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2011 18:25:00 +0000 Web Master 9020 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Home Unimprovement: A Tale of Two Houses http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/home-unimprovement-tale-two-houses <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//pleasant avenue old.jpg" target="_blank"> <img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//pleasant avenue old.jpg" alt="" /> </a> <em>A simple, sturdy house on Peaks Island, Maine, around 1900. Photo: City of Portland</em></div> <p><strong>Home unimprovement</strong>, <em>noun</em>. During renovation, the removal from a building of misguided features or home "improvements" added during previous renovations. <br /> <br />It's always satisfying to see a name given to a phenomenon that you already know well, and that is just what happened for me recently with "home unimprovement." Yes, the prefix is intentional: home improvement can result in things that aren't "improvements" at all, and the only logical thing to do is to "unimprove" them. </p> <h3>A renovator's job is to unimprove</h3> <p>I picked up the unimprovement concept from my uncle Chris Roberts, the most handy guy I know and a lifelong builder. Chris has renovated or helped renovate quite a few houses in his life, but his method of working might be considered unconventional. "As a renovator one of the things I do on houses is unimprove them," he told me recently. "I come in and say 'I need to get rid of that--it's been over-improved!'"</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/pleasant_avenue_old.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=112724">pleasant_avenue_old.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/pleasant_avenue_new.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=137190">pleasant_avenue_new.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/island_avenue_old.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=92752">island_avenue_old.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Save23_25.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22029">Save23_25.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/island_avenue_new.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=273602">island_avenue_new.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/home-unimprovement-tale-two-houses" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/home-unimprovement-tale-two-houses#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2011 12:57:00 +0000 Web Master 9022 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Energy Retrofit or 401(k)? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/energy-retrofit-or-401k <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//roberts%20blower%20door.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h3>The strategy of living with inefficient homes and cars, and then looking to retirement accounts and paychecks to pay for that inefficiency appears more and more questionable. And I have some numbers to prove it. </h3> <p>Sure, I've heard of placentas before, but my mental image of them was of some kind of amorphous blob that sort of disappeared after the baby was born.</p> <p>But as an expecting father, I learned in a class last weekend that the placenta is the main source of nutrients, waste processing, and oxygen for the developing fetus, which is attached to it via the umbilical cord. From the Latin word for "cake," it's a flat, roundish organ attached to the uterine wall. Within half an hour after giving birth to the baby, the mother gives birth to the placenta, which weighs in at one to two pounds!</p> <p>What happens next depends on your species and culture. Most animals that have a placenta, including herbivores, eat it, but few humans do so. People of many cultures bury it. In some cultures it is fed to animals--for example, fed to ravens to encourage prophetic visions in the child.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/roberts_blower_door_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=0">roberts_blower_door_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Save23_31.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22029">Save23_31.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_15.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_15.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/energy-retrofit-or-401k" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/energy-retrofit-or-401k#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2011 15:37:00 +0000 Web Master 9024 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Old Window? 10 Tips for Improving Performance http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/old-window-10-tips-improving-performance <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//chicken%20dinner%20road.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>As I was hosing down the dirt driveway in front of my house last week to keep the dust down with some guests due to arrive, I got to thinking about Chicken Dinner Road.</p> <p>I once lived in Canyon County, Idaho and often passed a junction for Chicken Dinner Road. Some years ago, I was told, this road was a dusty dirt track traveling between a few farms. One of the farmers got tired of the dust clouds that came up from passing vehicles. He had the local highway supervisor over for a chicken barbecue, and had a buddy driving up and down the road, demonstrating the problem directly. The road got paved, and it also got a name.</p> <p>There's another story about this same road--read on to the end. But one lesson I take from the ol' chicken dinner: when something isn't working, get creative and do something about it. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/chicken_dinner_road.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=0">chicken_dinner_road.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CertReportFreeLUNewsletter.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=30355">CertReportFreeLUNewsletter.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_22.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_22.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/old-window-10-tips-improving-performance" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/old-window-10-tips-improving-performance#comments Tue, 09 Aug 2011 12:56:00 +0000 Web Master 9025 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Improving Your Windows with Plastic Film Kits, Insulated Shades, and Interior Storm Windows http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/improving-your-windows-plastic-film-kits-insulated-shades-and-interior-storm-windows <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//IR.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h3>It's easy to augment your existing windows to keep the heat in better, but some "window attachments" are better than others.</h3> <p>Try this little perceptual experiment now: look at yourself in a mirror (or your computer or phone camera). Then look at your left eye, and then your right eye, and then back and forth several times. What do you see?</p> <p>If someone else is around, ask them to look at you, and look back and forth between your eyes.</p> <p>What do you see? When you're looking at someone else moving their eyes back and forth, that's exactly what you see. But when you look at yourself in the mirror, you never see your eyes move. When I do this, I can see that my eyes are at a slightly different angle, and I can feel a tiny break in the string of perception when moving them, but I can never see my eyes move.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/IR.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=52863">IR.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_55.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_55.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/lowe1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=82522">lowe1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/improving-your-windows-plastic-film-kits-insulated-shades-and-interior-storm-windows" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/improving-your-windows-plastic-film-kits-insulated-shades-and-interior-storm-windows#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 11:05:00 +0000 Web Master 9027 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Keeping the Sun Out: A Guide to Window Attachments http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-sun-out-guide-window-attachments <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//films.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h3>There are good ways to modify windows to prevent too much solar gain in the summer.</h3> <p>A few weeks ago I told a story in this space that was third-hand from Gordon Hayward. Well, a lot changed in the telling, and Gordon got back to me with what really happened. <br /> <br />Three aunts of a young man from Dorchester, Mass., came up to celebrate his graduation from a Vermont boarding school. They asked Gordon how anyone here ever slept at night: it was so dark and quiet that none of them got a wink. They thought there were at least three bears outside. <br /> <br />This brought up the story of the trip. The whole family, in three cars, left Dorchester in the evening heading for Florida. They got across the Tappan Zee Bridge and onto the New Jersey Turnpike when all of a sudden there were no more streetlights. They pulled into a gas station, had a confab and decided it was too dark--they couldn't proceed--and they turned around and drove home. The crucial detail that I got wrong, says Gordon: "No relative of mine would ever turn back from a dark night, I can assure you." </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/films_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=56767">films_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/PharosAdBlue_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=15287">PharosAdBlue_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/rollershade_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=104251">rollershade_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_11.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_11.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-sun-out-guide-window-attachments" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-sun-out-guide-window-attachments#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2011 12:52:00 +0000 Web Master 9029 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com "The Crash Course": An Information Scout Delivers a Must-Read Book http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/crash-course-information-scout-delivers-must-read-book <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//debt-mountain-cartoon.gif" alt="" /></p> <h3>Why isn't construction rebounding more? What is wrong with borrowing to get out of the Great Recession?</h3> <p>Once upon a time in a village there lived a wise old man. Legend had it that he could answer any question posed to him. A village boy hatched a plan to fool him. He caught a small bird, and approaching the wise old man with the bird in his hands, he asked, "Is this bird dead or alive?"&nbsp; If the man said it was alive, the boy would secretly break its neck and then reveal it to be dead (or perhaps pining for the fjords). If the man said it was dead, the boy would release it alive from his hands. <br /> <br />To the boy's surprise, the wise man said, "It's in your hands. That bird's life is in your hands." </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/debt-mountain-cartoon_0.gif" type="image/gif; length=121250">debt-mountain-cartoon_0.gif</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_36.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_36.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-png" alt="image/png icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/crashcoursebookwide_0.png" type="image/png; length=33852">crashcoursebookwide_0.png</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/crash-course-information-scout-delivers-must-read-book" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/crash-course-information-scout-delivers-must-read-book#comments Tue, 19 Jul 2011 13:42:00 +0000 Web Master 9031 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Massachusetts Fires Tied to Spray Foam Incite Debate http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/massachusetts-fires-tied-spray-foam-incite-debate <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Spray foam fire - Cape Cod Times - 2.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h3>As Massachusetts investigates the causes of three house fires that ignited while insulation contractors were installing spray polyurethane foam (SPF), observers ask if SPF is being demonized.</h3> <p>As an insulation product, spray polyurethane foam (SPF) has many great attributes that we've talked about on this website: easy installation in irregular locations, air barrier qualities, and moisture management potential. Our publications and blog have also been active in covering some of the downsides of this product, including <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2011/5/3/EPA-Takes-Action-on-Spray-Foam-Health-Risks/">toxic emissions for workers and occupants</a> under investigation by the EPA and the <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2011/3/21/Global-Warming-Potential-Insulation-Calculator-polystyrene-eps-xps-gwp">high global-warming potential of SPF</a>. We have also been publishing a series of reflections by a builder who strongly favors more <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2011/6/8/The-Building-Envelope-Our-Third-Skin">natural, breathable materials like cellulose.</a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Spray_foam_fire_-_Cape_Cod_Times_-_2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=22072">Spray_foam_fire_-_Cape_Cod_Times_-_2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_9.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_9.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/massachusetts-fires-tied-spray-foam-incite-debate" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/massachusetts-fires-tied-spray-foam-incite-debate#comments Thu, 14 Jul 2011 12:08:00 +0000 Web Master 9033 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Keeping Water Out of Buildings: Four Pathways http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-water-out-buildings-four-pathways <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Moisture.jpg" alt="" /> Poetry used to be memorized, not written down, and handed from bard to bard, memory to memory, down through the generations. Perhaps folks out there have memorized poems back when schools taught such things, or for personal interest. <br /> <br />Not counting things I have written, I know only one poem by memory, written by David McCord. As proof, I will recite it for you here. <br /> <br /><em>Epitaph on a Waiter <br /> <br />By and by <br />God caught his eye.</em> </p> <h3>Water gets in through four pathways</h3> <p>Some things are inevitable. Like the Phillies beating the Red Sox in the World Series. And water getting into buildings. Water gets its way--or four ways, actually. <br /> <br />Water moves in, on, and through buildings through the following four paths. I'll go through these in order of magnitude--the most water is involved in the first path, and the least is involved in the fourth. That order is important because it helps us set management priorities. <br /> <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/GreenSpecInsights?utm_source=BGemailGSI&amp;utm_medium=BlogEmailSignupGSI&amp;utm_campaign=GSIsignUp"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images/FreeNewsletterGSI.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Moisture.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=112434">Moisture.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_39.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_39.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/PharosAdBlue_10.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=15287">PharosAdBlue_10.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-water-out-buildings-four-pathways" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-water-out-buildings-four-pathways#comments Tue, 12 Jul 2011 14:59:00 +0000 Web Master 9034 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Nine Types of Greenwashing http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/nine-types-greenwashing <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//general-motors-greenwash.jpg" alt="" /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/general-motors-greenwash.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=160423">general-motors-greenwash.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/ProductCertAd_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=36844">ProductCertAd_1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_18.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_18.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/nine-types-greenwashing" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/nine-types-greenwashing#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2011 13:00:00 +0000 Web Master 9041 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Will "Superwindows" Save the Day? (and Can We Afford Them?) http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/will-superwindows-save-day-and-can-we-afford-them <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <h3>Everybody loves a high-tech innovation, and our windows are very high-tech, but have we reached a point where we don't need to push further?</h3> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//thermotech_window.jpg" alt="" /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/thermotech_window.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=34485">thermotech_window.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_21.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_21.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/PharosAdBlue_6.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=15287">PharosAdBlue_6.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/will-superwindows-save-day-and-can-we-afford-them" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/will-superwindows-save-day-and-can-we-afford-them#comments Sun, 05 Jun 2011 01:29:00 +0000 Web Master 9047 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com How to Read (Those Darn) Window Performance Stickers http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-read-those-darn-window-performance-stickers <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//NFRC.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h3>Before you peel that NFRC sticker off the window, check the numbers and ask whether you got the right window for your climate.</h3> <p>Have you ever found yourself picking a sticker off a building product or material from the store, and wondering, why did they put the sticker here? I have often had this thought with everything from stovepipe to plumbing fittings, but the classic example in the building world is probably windows. <br /> <br />The glass part of the window is for looking through, right? Then why does every window manufacturer put two are three large stickers right in that area? Sometimes these come off easily--sometimes they are a real pain to remove. Sometimes they don't come off at all: I have seen window stickers, or remnants of them, still in place years after construction. <br /> <br />The next time you encounter one of those stickers--in your house, on the construction site, or at the showroom, take a close look. The different values that appear on them can mean a world of difference in terms of how those windows will perform in your building. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/NFRC.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=98550">NFRC.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-png" alt="image/png icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Pharos_logo_1.png" type="image/png; length=0">Pharos_logo_1.png</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-read-those-darn-window-performance-stickers" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-read-those-darn-window-performance-stickers#comments Mon, 30 May 2011 10:28:00 +0000 Web Master 9050 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Getting "Under the Hood" with Energy-Efficient Windows http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-under-hood-energy-efficient-windows <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Sorpetaler.jpg" alt="" /> It has been a great spring so far for spotting wildlife. A neighbor told me he was shooing a black bear away from his garbage the other day when he saw that he had also frightened off a moose that was also in the neighborhood. Perhaps the moose and bear are rehearsing for a new wildlife buddy movie? <br /> <br />I spotted a porcupine crossing the driveway last week. I love that fact that porcupines don't seem to give a damn. I'm sure that they are capable of running, but unlike a lot of animals that run when encountered, porcupines seem to just keep on going wherever they were going, at the same measured pace, with the same loopy sort of lope. When worst comes to worst, they can simply sit there, knowing that only a handful of predators can get around those quills. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Sorpetaler.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=54868">Sorpetaler.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-png" alt="image/png icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Pharos_logo_3.png" type="image/png; length=0">Pharos_logo_3.png</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-under-hood-energy-efficient-windows" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-under-hood-energy-efficient-windows#comments Mon, 23 May 2011 19:17:00 +0000 Web Master 9054 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com EPA Raises Health Concerns with Spray Foam Insulation http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/epa-raises-health-concerns-spray-foam-insulation <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Icynene.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h3>Spray-polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation, growing in popularity, is under scrutiny from EPA. What's a homeowner or builder to do?</h3> <p>A friend of mine used to be a long-haul truck driver. At one point he even became a trainer working with new drivers. <br /> <br />Over dinner recently, I asked what was one key lesson that he would want to impart to any new driver. While he was thinking about it, his wife lit up and offered this advice (which I'm sure is not from the company manual): make sure your seatbelt is removed before you begin a hot swap. <br /> <br />In trucking, a hot swap occurs in a truck being driven by a team of two drivers when they are in a real hurry to make a delivery. When one is ready to take a break and turn the wheel over, rather than taking the time to stop, they may decide to trade places while the vehicle is moving down the highway. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Icynene.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=17033">Icynene.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-png" alt="image/png icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Pharos_logo_0.png" type="image/png; length=0">Pharos_logo_0.png</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/epa-raises-health-concerns-spray-foam-insulation" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/epa-raises-health-concerns-spray-foam-insulation#comments Mon, 16 May 2011 16:31:00 +0000 Web Master 9059 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Biomass vs. Biomass – Round 1 – Scrutinizing Biomass Electricity Generation http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/biomass-vs-biomass-round-1-scrutinizing-biomass-electricity-generation <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//McNeil_Biomass_Plant_013.JPG" alt="" /></p> <h3>Biomass supporters cite it as a "green" fuel like wind and solar. Using it to generate electricity, though, leaves a lot to be desired in terms of public health and efficiency.</h3> <p>"On a scale from 1 to 10, how nice are you?" <br /> <br />My nine-year-old neighbor put that question to me recently. He had been asked the question as part of an anti-bullying curriculum at his school, and he was trying it out on other people. I wasn't sure how to answer it, and neither was he--"niceness" just doesn't fit on a 10-point scale, in my mind. It did get us to talk a bit about what is nice and what isn't, though, and he noted that there was less "meanness" at his school following use of the curriculum. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/McNeil_Biomass_Plant_013.JPG" type="image/jpeg; length=380227">McNeil_Biomass_Plant_013.JPG</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/McNeil_incinerator_tour_011.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=94613">McNeil_incinerator_tour_011.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/biomass-vs-biomass-round-1-scrutinizing-biomass-electricity-generation" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/biomass-vs-biomass-round-1-scrutinizing-biomass-electricity-generation#comments Tue, 03 May 2011 15:24:00 +0000 Web Master 9067 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Does Saving Historic Buildings Really Save Energy? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/does-saving-historic-buildings-really-save-energy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//historic trust.jpg" alt="" /></p> <h3>The preservationist wisdom is that a lot of energy--gallons and gallons of gasoline--is locked up in our historic buildings, and should be saved. It's time to update that wisdom.</h3> <p>A surreal magazine ad just got even more surreal for me. <br /> <br />After learning of the <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2011/4/19/Mixed-Use-Too-Many-Eggs-in-One-Basket">fire at the historic 1871 Brooks House</a> here in Brattleboro, Vermont last week, I quickly got to wondering, will the owner be put in the painful position of choosing to salvage a beloved historic property, or to build new? Similar choices are faced with sad frequency in historic downtowns across America. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/historic_trust.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=60671">historic_trust.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EBNad1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=0">EBNad1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/does-saving-historic-buildings-really-save-energy" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/does-saving-historic-buildings-really-save-energy#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2011 18:04:00 +0000 Web Master 9072 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com What is a Watt, Anyway? Understanding Energy and Power Metrics http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-watt-anyway-understanding-energy-and-power-metrics <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//hope_of_james_watt1.png" alt="" /></p> <h3>It's easy to get confused about the difference between energy and power, between watts and watt-hours.&nbsp; But if you can master inches and pounds, you can master this. </h3> <p>How many mystery writers does it take to change a 60-watt lightbulb? <br /> <br /><em>Two--one to screw the bulb almost all the way in, and one to provide a surprising twist at the end. </em> <br /> <br />How many Energy Solutions columnists does it take to change a 60-watt lightbulb? <br /><em> <br />One--all he does is tell you what a watt is and he doesn't even change the lightbulb.</em> <br /> <br />If you are still with me, dear reader, you have chosen the columnist over the mystery writer. You are brave. (Or if you are just into lightbulb jokes, see my <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2007/12/3/Green-Building-Jokes">green building lightbulb jokes</a> here.) <br /> <br />Chances are, you may be worried about higher energy prices, global warming, energy insecurity, or all of the above and more. You may want to become more aware of your energy use, and become more efficient. A few weeks ago I wrote about radiation terminology; today I'm going to focus on energy terminology. Knowing is half the battle. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-png" alt="image/png icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/hope_of_james_watt1.png" type="image/png; length=16859">hope_of_james_watt1.png</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/solar_charge_controller.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=17541">solar_charge_controller.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EBNad1_3.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=0">EBNad1_3.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-watt-anyway-understanding-energy-and-power-metrics" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/what-watt-anyway-understanding-energy-and-power-metrics#comments Wed, 20 Apr 2011 17:16:00 +0000 Web Master 9074 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Surviving a "Close Encounter" with Disaster http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/surviving-close-encounter-disaster <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//close-encounters.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Can you make your life more resilient in case of disaster? Yes, and it may be greener, too.</h3> <p>Sometimes being a practical person isn’t that fun. Last night my wife and I were watching the classic 1977 movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”<br /> <br /> Leading up to the climactic scene, the protagonists are racing to the location where they expect aliens to appear, while outrunning the U.S. Army and the United Nations. To do this, they must escape the authorities and their cattle cars, drive a station wagon off-road through Wyoming, and spend several hours scrambling up the dry, rocky landscape around Devil’s Tower.<br /> <br /> Setting aside whether they or their station wagon are capable of these feats, I kept thinking, why the heck didn’t they bring some water along? Forget the aliens—I’d be trying to slake my thirst after a couple hours of this! Instead of the closing credits, I’d like to see the scene after our hero boards the flying saucer, as he figures out how to intone to the alien, “Do you have some H2O?” Hopefully that’s on the in-flight service menu.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/close-encounters.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=24057">close-encounters.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Simon_pv.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=147325">Simon_pv.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/surviving-close-encounter-disaster" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/surviving-close-encounter-disaster#comments Tue, 12 Apr 2011 19:11:00 +0000 Web Master 9077 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Things You Can Learn from Pete's Energy Bill http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/things-you-can-learn-petes-energy-bill <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Pete&#039;s house.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Calculating miles-per-gallon used for heating your house may be easier than you think.</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Pete%2527s_house.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=52473">Pete%27s_house.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Fleming_Fuel_Bills.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=199537">Fleming_Fuel_Bills.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/spinal-tap-knob-goes-to-11.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=15061">spinal-tap-knob-goes-to-11.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/things-you-can-learn-petes-energy-bill" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/things-you-can-learn-petes-energy-bill#comments Tue, 05 Apr 2011 19:27:00 +0000 Web Master 9078 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com How Much Radiation Does It Take Two Kilomockingbird? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-much-radiation-does-it-take-two-kilomockingbird <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//radioactivity.gif" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Feeling bombarded with confusing information about measures of radiation? We sort out the millisieverts from the becquerels.</strong></p> <p><em>What is the measure of the time between slipping on a peel and hitting the pavement?</em></p> <p>One bananosecond.</p> <p><em>What is the ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter?</em></p> <p>Eskimo pi.</p> <p><em>What is the metric equivalent of 1,000 aches?</em></p> <p>1 megahurtz.</p> <p><em>What is the metric equivalent of 2,000 mockingbirds?</em></p> <p>Two kilomockingbirds.</p> <p><strong>Tortured by dead physicists?</strong></p> <p>To those who feel tortured by puns, I apologize. I’ve been feeling a bit tortured myself by news reports coming out of Japan, and specifically, the code language that surrounds&nbsp; radiation. The numbers themselves are usually very small and difficult to visualize, they are denoted in unfamiliar units named for dead European scientists, and just when I think I’ve mastered one, another shows up in the news.</p> <p>In the interest of being more informed about what we’re being exposed to, both in Japan and in nuclear plants closer to home, I, your fearless Energy Solutions columnist, will now attempt to decode them.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/radioactivity.gif" type="image/gif; length=4143">radioactivity.gif</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/becquerel.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=5216">becquerel.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-much-radiation-does-it-take-two-kilomockingbird" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-much-radiation-does-it-take-two-kilomockingbird#comments Tue, 29 Mar 2011 17:47:00 +0000 Web Master 9082 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Meltdown in Japan and Our Energy Future http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/meltdown-japan-and-our-energy-future <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tristan Roberts </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//IEA total energy supply.gif" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Looking for clean renewables in the pie chart of post-Fukushima global energy consumption? Try under “Other.”</strong></p> <p>Two parents—identified by the caption—have their backs to the camera, ten feet away. The father is standing, and the mother crouching, both looking into what looks like a tangled pile of debris, but which we are told is a vehicle at a driving school in Miyagi Prefecture. The body of their daughter, killed by the tsunami, is trapped inside. I can only imagine the grief on their faces and in their hearts.</p> <p>This photo stays with me more than another other image coming out of the compounded disasters of the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown. In fact, I can’t get this whole disaster out of my mind, even as it moves off the front pages of the news. In addition to lingering concerns about radioactive fallout, the disaster provides an instructive lens with which to look at the energy solutions we currently rely on, and where they’re headed.</p> <p><strong>The numbers don’t lie</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/IEA_total_energy_supply.gif" type="image/gif; length=33207">IEA_total_energy_supply.gif</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/parents_in_Miyagi.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=49676">parents_in_Miyagi.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/meltdown-japan-and-our-energy-future" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/meltdown-japan-and-our-energy-future#comments Tue, 22 Mar 2011 15:02:00 +0000 Web Master 9084 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Global Warming Potential of Insulation Materials – New Calculator http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/global-warming-potential-insulation-materials-new-calculator <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//XPS_cellulose_graph.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//XPS_cellulose_graph.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>A sample output from David White's Insulation <abbr title="Global Warming Potential is a measure of how much heat is trapped by a given mass of gas, contributing to global warming, compared with the same mass of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide has a GWP value of 1."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term1853">GWP</a></abbr> Tool. See details below on how this works. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>With this new tool you can see just how significant <abbr title="1. Embodied energy is the energy used during the entire life cycle of a product, including its manufacture, transportation, and disposal, as well as the inherent energy captured within the product itself.2. The energy expended in the process of creating a product, often including the fuel value of its constituent parts as well as transportation to its point of use."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2356">embodied energy</a></abbr> and blowing agents are in determining the role of insulation materials in addressing <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>. <br /> <br />In the June issue of <em>Environmental Building News</em> last year, we published one of those slap-in-the-face, wake-up-call articles that forces people to rethink conventional wisdom. Most of us had long thought that more insulation was almost always better in saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. After all, the more insulation we install, the less energy gets used in the building and the less carbon dioxide is emitted. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/XPS_cellulose_graph.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=174477">XPS_cellulose_graph.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/XPS_cellulose.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=393111">XPS_cellulose.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/global-warming-potential-insulation-materials-new-calculator" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/global-warming-potential-insulation-materials-new-calculator#comments Mon, 21 Mar 2011 20:15:00 +0000 Web Master 9085 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Adios - for a little while... http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/adios-little-while <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//HorstHammerschmidt_CraterOfTheMoon_NatlPark_Idaho.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//HorstHammerschmidt_CraterOfTheMoon_NatlPark_Idaho.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>I'll be looking for some open vistas and contemplative time on my upcoming bike trip--priming the pump for work I'll be focusing on during the rest of an eight-month sabbatical. Photo: Horst Hammerschmidt. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Next week I'm starting an eight-month sabbatical. It's made possible by the <a href="http://www.ecohomemagazine.com/news/2010/07-july/alex-wilson-selected-for-the-2010-hanley-award-for-vision-and-leadership-in-sustainable-housing.aspx">Hanley Award</a> that I received last fall, which included a financial grant. I'll be taking an unpaid leave from BuildingGreen (after 26 years) and stepping away from day-to-day operations and the deadlines that have largely defined my life over those years. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/HorstHammerschmidt_CraterOfTheMoon_NatlPark_Idaho.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=52561">HorstHammerschmidt_CraterOfTheMoon_NatlPark_Idaho.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/adios-little-while" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/adios-little-while#comments Tue, 15 Mar 2011 16:16:00 +0000 Web Master 9088 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Natural Gas - Not as Green as it Used to Be http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/natural-gas-not-green-it-used-be <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Oil_vs_gas_prices_1990-2011_2-26-11_NYT.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Oil_vs_gas_prices_1990-2011_2-26-11_NYT.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Oil and gas prices have diverged dramatically in the past few years. Graph: New York Times. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Natural gas has been in the news a lot recently. <br /> <br />On the economics side, we are seeing a fascinating divergence of petroleum and natural gas prices. For decades, oil and gas prices have tracked pretty closely--natural gas prices rising and falling as international political events boosted or depressed oil prices. Today, for the first time, as oil prices are surging, natural gas prices are still falling. In the last few weeks, natural gas prices have fallen to historic lows, compared with oil. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Oil_vs_gas_prices_1990-2011_2-26-11_NYT.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=153551">Oil_vs_gas_prices_1990-2011_2-26-11_NYT.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-png" alt="image/png icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Marcellus_ReelFacts.png" type="image/png; length=277931">Marcellus_ReelFacts.png</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Fracking_diagram_CleanWaterForNorthCarolina.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=47248">Fracking_diagram_CleanWaterForNorthCarolina.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/fracking_PhillyWorkersVoice.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=137136">fracking_PhillyWorkersVoice.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/natural-gas-not-green-it-used-be" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/natural-gas-not-green-it-used-be#comments Tue, 08 Mar 2011 14:10:00 +0000 Web Master 9091 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Location Efficiency: The Energy Impact of Where We Build http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/location-efficiency-energy-impact-where-we-build <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Annapolis.Brick019_Burden1.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Annapolis.Brick019_Burden1.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>A pedestrian-friendly streetscape in Annapolis, Maryland. Photo: Dan Burden. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>We spend a lot of time and money making our homes more energy efficient. Whether adding insulation, upgrading windows, replacing incandescent light bulbs, or replacing appliances, efforts we make to use less energy save us money and help the environment. But what about where we live? <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Annapolis.Brick019_Burden1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=197995">Annapolis.Brick019_Burden1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/LocationEfficiency_Rose_2-2011.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=119738">LocationEfficiency_Rose_2-2011.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/location-efficiency-energy-impact-where-we-build" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/location-efficiency-energy-impact-where-we-build#comments Tue, 01 Mar 2011 14:35:00 +0000 Web Master 9093 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Flame Retardant Used in Polystyrene to be Banned by EU http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/flame-retardant-used-polystyrene-be-banned-eu <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> BuildingGreen's Top Stories </div> <div class="field-item even"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item odd"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//XPS_Fndn_Bensonwood_9811.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//XPS_Fndn_Bensonwood_9811.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Extruded polystyrene, such as this Owens Corning Foamular, is widely used as foundation insulation. The flame retardant used in all polystyrene building insulation is being banned by the European Union. Photo: Bensonwood. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>The European Union announced last week that it is banning HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane), the brominated flame retardant used in polystyrene building insulation. The ban will take effect by mid-2015 and be implemented through the European Union's <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/reach_intro.htm">REACH program</a> (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals). <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/XPS_Fndn_Bensonwood_9811.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=378014">XPS_Fndn_Bensonwood_9811.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/12_inches_XPS_032_LoRes1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=337036">12_inches_XPS_032_LoRes1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/flame-retardant-used-polystyrene-be-banned-eu" target="_blank">read more</a></p> BuildingGreen's Top Stories Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/flame-retardant-used-polystyrene-be-banned-eu#comments Tue, 22 Feb 2011 21:50:00 +0000 Web Master 9095 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Direct-Gain Passive Solar http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/direct-gain-passive-solar <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CobbHillSolar_0069-LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CobbHillSolar_0069-LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Direct-gain passive-solar design was used extensively at the Cob Hill CoHousing project in Hartland, Vermont. A majority of the windows face south, with overhangs and window blinds that help block unwanted sun in the summer. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Over the past two weeks I've written about two relatively obscure passive solar heating strategies: isolated gain using <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2011/2/8/Sunspaces--Solar-Heat-and-a-Place-to-Grow-Plants">sunspaces</a>; and indirect gain using a <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2011/2/15/Trombe-Walls">Trombe walls</a>. This week I'll cover a far more common and cost-effective approach: direct-gain. <br /> <br />Direct-gain passive solar systems rely on south-facing windows to bring solar energy <em>directly</em> into a house. That sunlight is absorbed by materials in the house (the floor, walls, furniture, etc.), which warm up, store some of that heat, and re-radiate it back into the room, warming the space. &nbsp; <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CobbHillSolar_0069-LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=509735">CobbHillSolar_0069-LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CobbHillSolar_0104_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=560202">CobbHillSolar_0104_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/FreeNewsletterGSI_32.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=12623">FreeNewsletterGSI_32.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/direct-gain-passive-solar" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/direct-gain-passive-solar#comments Tue, 22 Feb 2011 15:24:00 +0000 Web Master 9096 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Trombe Walls http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/trombe-walls <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Alex002_150dpi.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Alex002_150dpi.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>A Trombe wall retrofit workshop that I was leading in the late-1970s in New Mexico. To this simple frame, a layer of glazing was added, and sunlight would heat up the dark-painted wall. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Last week I <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2011/2/8/Sunspaces--Solar-Heat-and-a-Place-to-Grow-Plants">wrote about sunspaces</a> and how they can be used to deliver passive solar heat to our homes. Another option for passive solar heating is the Trombe wall, or thermal storage wall. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Alex002_150dpi.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=707404">Alex002_150dpi.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Termal_Storage_Manual.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=112406">Termal_Storage_Manual.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/trombe-walls" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/trombe-walls#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 22:20:00 +0000 Web Master 9097 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Sunspaces - Solar Heat and a Place to Grow Plants http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/sunspaces-solar-heat-and-place-grow-plants <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Greenhouse_Wksp_NM_005.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Greenhouse_Wksp_NM_005.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>A solar greenhouse workshop from the late-1970s. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Way back in the late 1970s, I worked for the New Mexico Solar Energy Association in Santa Fe. I ran the Workshop Program, leading a crew of three or four like-mined idealists teaching mostly low-income New Mexicans about solar energy through hands-on construction workshops. We primarily built attached solar greenhouses, or sunspaces--structures that provide not only passive solar heat to the adjoining house, but also a place to grow seedlings or house plants. <br /> <br />While I sometimes cringe to remember the poor quality of the sunspaces we were building in these community workshops--we used simple 2x4 frames and clad them with translucent fiberglass--those structures demonstrated the value of this passive solar heating system. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Greenhouse_Wksp_NM_005.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=250986">Greenhouse_Wksp_NM_005.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Greenhouse_Wksp_NM_007.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=380109">Greenhouse_Wksp_NM_007.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/sunspaces-solar-heat-and-place-grow-plants" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/sunspaces-solar-heat-and-place-grow-plants#comments Tue, 08 Feb 2011 18:55:00 +0000 Web Master 9099 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Heating with Oil or Gas: What's to Like? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-oil-or-gas-whats <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Buderus_3367_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Buderus_3367_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Along with heating with wood at home, we rely on heating oil, burning it in this Buderus boiler. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>I think it's safe to say that nobody likes to burn oil. Maybe it's the people I hang around with, but we go straight from talking about the cold weather we've been having to how much oil we've been burning (for myself, it's in our <a href="http://www.buderus.us/">Buderus</a> oil-fired boiler that we heat with, along with cordwood in the house and a pellet stove in the adjoining garage apartment). Whether it's because of financial or planetary concerns, everyone seems to wince when they talk about how many gallons of oil or gas they've been through. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Buderus_3367_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=437870">Buderus_3367_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Buderus_3365-LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=477843">Buderus_3365-LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-oil-or-gas-whats" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-oil-or-gas-whats#comments Tue, 01 Feb 2011 15:20:00 +0000 Web Master 9103 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com What's the Greenest Option for Home Heating? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/whats-greenest-option-home-heating <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//PelletStove_3279-LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//PelletStove_3279-LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Heating with wood pellets, such as with this freestanding Quadrafire Mt. Vernon pellet stove at our own house, can be the greenest option, since wood pellets are a renewable heating fuel. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>I've always gotten a lot of questions from friends, neighbors, and casual acquaintances about energy issues, and those questions picked up dramatically when I started writing this column two-and-a-half years ago. Beginning with this week, I'm going to devote an occasional column to answering some of these questions. (Feel free to e-mail questions to me: <a href="mailto:alex@buildinggreen.com">alex@buildinggreen.com</a>.) <br /> <br />What's the greenest option for heating my home? <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/PelletStove_3279-LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=352260">PelletStove_3279-LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/whats-greenest-option-home-heating" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/whats-greenest-option-home-heating#comments Tue, 25 Jan 2011 21:39:00 +0000 Web Master 9104 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Drive-by Energy Audits http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drive-energy-audits <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//SnowRaking_3243-LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//SnowRaking_3243-LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>If heat loss through your roof is going to melt snow and cause ice dams, use a snow rake to clear the snow. Here's my wife raking our roof after last week's snowstorm. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge</strong></em></div> <p>With all the snow we received in southern Vermont last week, it's a great time to be an energy nerd! Lots of snow on roofs means that it's easy to tell at a glance how energy efficient houses in the neighborhood are. I mean, it's not a thorough energy audit. But it's a good way to quickly get a sense of how buttoned up these houses are. <br /> <br />The principle is pretty simple: the less insulation in a house attic or at the rafters, the more heat escapes through the roof. That escaping heat melts the snow. As I'm driving into town, if I see that most of the nearly two feet of snow we received is still sitting there and the depth even, I can be pretty sure I'm looking at a well-insulated and tight house. Unless it's a fairly steep metal roof (in which case the snow slides off pretty quickly), loss of snow is evidence of poor insulation. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/SnowRaking_3243-LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=396158">SnowRaking_3243-LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drive-energy-audits" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drive-energy-audits#comments Tue, 18 Jan 2011 13:30:00 +0000 Web Master 9108 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Energy Return on Investment http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/energy-return-investment <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//EROI_AmScientist_CharlesHall_JohnDayJr_RevisitingTheLimitsToGrowthAfterPeakOil_May-June_2009.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//EROI_AmScientist_CharlesHall_JohnDayJr_RevisitingTheLimitsToGrowthAfterPeakOil_May-June_2009.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Energy return on investment for different energy sources. Lighter color indicates range of EROI, depending on conditions. Source: Charles A.S. Hall and John W. Day, Jr. in "Revisiting the Limits to Growth After Peak Oil" in American Scientist, May-June, 2009. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>For the past few weeks, I've been writing about petroleum: <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/12/21/Understanding-Petroleum">what it is</a>, the <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/12/28/Our-History-of-Petroleum-Use">history of petroleum use</a>, and <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2011/1/4/Thoughts-on-the-Future-of-Petroleum">what's ahead for this ubiquitous energy source</a> that, to a significant extent, defines our society. This week, I'll cover a method of evaluating not only petroleum, but other energy sources as well: "energy return on investment." <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EROI_AmScientist_CharlesHall_JohnDayJr_RevisitingTheLimitsToGrowthAfterPeakOil_May-June_2009.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=116088">EROI_AmScientist_CharlesHall_JohnDayJr_RevisitingTheLimitsToGrowthAfterPeakOil_May-June_2009.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/energy-return-investment" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/energy-return-investment#comments Tue, 11 Jan 2011 18:48:00 +0000 Web Master 9109 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Thoughts on the Future of Petroleum http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/thoughts-future-petroleum <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//gasoline-crude-oil-since-2000_WallStreetCheatSheet.gif" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//gasoline-crude-oil-since-2000_WallStreetCheatSheet.gif" alt="" /></a><em>Significant price fluctuation has been the rule with crude oil and gasoline for the past several years. As the economy picks up, many experts predict higher oil prices during 2011. Graph: Wall Street Cheat Sheet. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>It's fitting that this first blog of 2011 takes a look into the crystal ball--at the energy source that pretty-much defines our culture. <br /> <br />That we consume oil prodigiously is an understatement. The world guzzles this highly concentrated fossil fuel at a rate of nearly one thousand barrels per second (29.2 billion barrels in 2009, according to the <a href="http://www.bp.com/productlanding.do?categoryId=6929&amp;contentId=7044622">BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2010</a>). The U.S., with 4.5% of the world's population, consumes 22.2% of its petroleum. A lot of that (71%) is for transportation; 97% of our vehicles are powered by petroleum fuels. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/gasoline-crude-oil-since-2000_WallStreetCheatSheet.gif" type="image/gif; length=66733">gasoline-crude-oil-since-2000_WallStreetCheatSheet.gif</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/thoughts-future-petroleum" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/thoughts-future-petroleum#comments Tue, 04 Jan 2011 16:45:00 +0000 Web Master 9111 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Our History of Petroleum Use http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/our-history-petroleum-use <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Titusville_PA_DrakeWellMuseumCollection_tarr_farm_560pxl.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Titusville_PA_DrakeWellMuseumCollection_tarr_farm_560pxl.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>The Phillips well (on the right) and Woodford Well (on the left) in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Drilled in 1861 and 1862, respectively, these wells are in the same Oil Creek Valley as the nation's first oil well, drilled by Edwin Drake. Photo: Pennsylvania Historical &amp; Museum Commission. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>While most of us think of the petroleum age starting in the late 1850s, when North America's first oil well began gushing oil, human use of petroleum actually goes back much further. <br /> <br />Asphalt, a heavy constituent of petroleum (see <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/12/21/Understanding-Petroleum">last week's blog</a>), was used four thousand years ago in constructing the walls of Babylon. During the Roman era, oil was collected and used in the province of Dacia (now Romania), where it was referred to as "picula." <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Titusville_PA_DrakeWellMuseumCollection_tarr_farm_560pxl.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=54056">Titusville_PA_DrakeWellMuseumCollection_tarr_farm_560pxl.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/our-history-petroleum-use" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/our-history-petroleum-use#comments Tue, 28 Dec 2010 14:32:00 +0000 Web Master 9114 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Understanding Petroleum http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/understanding-petroleum <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//BP-oil-refinery_Photo_BP.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//BP-oil-refinery_Photo_BP.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>In oil refineries crude oil is distilled into fractions that provide our major fuels and other petroleum products. Photo: BP. <strong>Click on image on enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>This week I'll take a detour from practical energy-conserving solutions to take a look at oil (petroleum)--the fluid that has powered our automobile-based society. Be prepared for some new terminology and a little bit of chemistry! <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/BP-oil-refinery_Photo_BP.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=67913">BP-oil-refinery_Photo_BP.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Exxon_sign_5763.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=211996">Exxon_sign_5763.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/understanding-petroleum" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/understanding-petroleum#comments Wed, 22 Dec 2010 04:30:00 +0000 Web Master 9115 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Comfort and Drafts http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/comfort-and-drafts <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//MinneapolisBlowerDoor_with_DG700_and_computer-LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//MinneapolisBlowerDoor_with_DG700_and_computer-LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>A Minneapolis Blower Door with DG-700 instrumentation kit. Photo: The Energy Conservatory. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Insulation is really important when it comes to saving energy in our homes. With more insulation in our walls, roofs, and foundation, less heat escapes via conduction to the outdoors. Insulate well!</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/MinneapolisBlowerDoor_with_DG700_and_computer-LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=297362">MinneapolisBlowerDoor_with_DG700_and_computer-LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/IMG_8675.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=529119">IMG_8675.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/comfort-and-drafts" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/comfort-and-drafts#comments Wed, 15 Dec 2010 02:05:00 +0000 Web Master 9117 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A Foot-control faucet for convenience and savings http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/foot-control-faucet-convenience-and-savings <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Water Wise Guys </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Kick-pad_and_cabinet_door_1751.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Kick-pad_and_cabinet_door_1751.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Tapmaster Model 1751 includes both a kick-plate and button activated by the cabinet door to turn the tap on and off. Photo: Tapmaster. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>For the past eight years we've been able to turn our kitchen faucet on and off using a knee- and foot-control valve from the Canadian company <a href="http://www.tapmaster.ca/">Tapmaster</a>. This may seem like a convenience-only product designed for lazy people. I can't argue with all of that--and admit that I probably wouldn't have installed one if I hadn't received it for testing from the manufacturer after we had reviewed a competing product in Environmental Building News. But I gotta say, I love it, and I'm convinced that it does result in significant water and energy savings. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Kick-pad_and_cabinet_door_1751.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=91787">Kick-pad_and_cabinet_door_1751.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Cabinet_1750.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=107324">Cabinet_1750.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/foot-control-faucet-convenience-and-savings" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Water Wise Guys http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/foot-control-faucet-convenience-and-savings#comments Tue, 07 Dec 2010 22:55:00 +0000 Web Master 9118 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com A Christmas List – For the Would-be Energy Savers Among Family and Friends http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/christmas-list-would-be-energy-savers-among-family-and-friends <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Concept_SL_100_32_LED.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Concept_SL_100_32_LED.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>The Concept SL-100 32 LED Solar Security Light with Motion Detector. Photo: Amazon.com. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>With Black Friday behind us, it's time for my annual Christmas shopping list--ideas for energy-saving and green living gifts this holiday season. Most of these products can be purchased locally--benefiting the local economy. Discounts may be available for both in-store and online purchases. <br /> <br /><strong>Concept SL-100 Solar-Powered LED Security Light</strong> <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Concept_SL_100_32_LED.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=32801">Concept_SL_100_32_LED.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Belkin_BG108000-04.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=55706">Belkin_BG108000-04.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Caframo_Airplus_802_Wood-Stove_Ecofan.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=178310">Caframo_Airplus_802_Wood-Stove_Ecofan.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/accutire-ms-4021b-standard-digital-tire-gauge.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=14287">accutire-ms-4021b-standard-digital-tire-gauge.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/christmas-list-would-be-energy-savers-among-family-and-friends" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/christmas-list-would-be-energy-savers-among-family-and-friends#comments Tue, 30 Nov 2010 16:45:00 +0000 Web Master 9121 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com LED Lighting Getting Better and Better http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/led-lighting-getting-better-and-better <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//LSI_LumeLEX2024_Series_LoRes1.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//LSI_LumeLEX2024_Series_LoRes1.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>This LSI light fixture features the Xicato LED Spot Module, which provides heretofore unavailable light quality from an LED light source: a <abbr title="Color-rendering index, or CRI, is a scale of 0 to 100, used by manufacturers of fluorescent, metal halide, and other non-incandescent lighting equipment to describe the visual effect of the light on colored surfaces. Natural daylight is assigned a CRI of 100."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2317">CRI</a></abbr> up to 98 and excellent color consistency. Photo: <a href="http://www.lightingservicesinc.com/">Lighting Services Inc</a> <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>I'm just back from Chicago, where I was attending the <a href="http://www.greenbuildexpo.org/education/education-sessions.aspx">Greenbuild Conference</a> of the U.S. Green Building Council. Despite the weak economy, some 27,000 architects, builders, developers, and manufacturers gathered for this 9th annual conference. <br /> <br />At Greenbuild, I moderated an interactive session looking at "hype vs. reality" with LED lighting. Indeed, there is a lot of hype out there (more on that below), but the bottom line is that there are some amazing products coming onto the market. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/LSI_LumeLEX2024_Series_LoRes1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=241523">LSI_LumeLEX2024_Series_LoRes1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/XicatoSpotModule_ScreenCapture.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=123617">XicatoSpotModule_ScreenCapture.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/2200_for_ceiling_grid.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=125144">2200_for_ceiling_grid.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/led-lighting-getting-better-and-better" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/led-lighting-getting-better-and-better#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 21:14:00 +0000 Web Master 9124 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Priority #1 – Reduce Energy Use http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-1-reduce-energy-use <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Denver_NREL_PIX_10647_WarrenGretz.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Denver_NREL_PIX_10647_WarrenGretz.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Air pollution over Denver. Most of this pollution is from fossil fuel combustion. Photo: Warren Gretz, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Number-one on my top-10 list of green building priorities is to reduce our consumption of energy. <br /> <br />Energy consumption carries with it numerous environment impacts. Most importantly, burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, to oil) to heat homes or generate electricity emits the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which is the leading cause of global <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>. Debate about whether climate change is real has long since ended in most scientific circles and is now relegated to the radical blogosphere and pseudo news outlets. The vast preponderance of evidence supports the contention that greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere are trapping heat and warming the globe. Indeed, <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?report=global">2010 is on track to be the warmest year</a> since global temperatures have been monitored. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Denver_NREL_PIX_10647_WarrenGretz.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=35349">Denver_NREL_PIX_10647_WarrenGretz.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-1-reduce-energy-use" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-1-reduce-energy-use#comments Mon, 15 Nov 2010 23:01:00 +0000 Web Master 9131 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Priority #2 – Reduce Water Use http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-2-reduce-water-use <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//U.S. Drought_11-2-10.gif" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//U.S. Drought_11-2-10.gif" alt="" /></a><em>Drought map, updated weekly, from the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Number 2 on my list of the top-10 green building priorities is to reduce water use. <br /> <br />Reducing water consumption should be a high priority not only in the parched Southwest but throughout the country. Some argue, in fact, that water is going to be an even bigger challenge than energy over the coming decades. <br /> <br />In the United States, nowhere is the focus on water greater today than in the Colorado River Basin. A series of reservoirs on the Colorado, including Lake Powell and Lake Mead, provide water for some 25 million Americans, and allocations of water from the river exceed the available flow. Lake Mead currently stands at half-full, it's scenic shore marred by a giant bathtub ring several hundred feet high. A <a href="http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=876">university study a few years ago</a> said there was a 50% chance that the reservoir would be functionally empty (its level too low to draw from) by 2021! <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/U.S._Drought_11-2-10.gif" type="image/gif; length=77701">U.S._Drought_11-2-10.gif</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Delta_H20kinetic_LoRes1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=230188">Delta_H20kinetic_LoRes1.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Taco_D%2527Mand_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=221945">Taco_D%27Mand_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-2-reduce-water-use" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-2-reduce-water-use#comments Tue, 09 Nov 2010 15:30:00 +0000 Web Master 9133 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Priority #3 – Ensure a Healthy Indoor Environment http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-3-ensure-healthy-indoor-environment <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//NaturaFlat_LoRes2.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//NaturaFlat_LoRes2.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Use low- or zero-VOC paints and finishes, such as this zero-VOC Natura paint, to help maintain a healthy indoor environment. Photo: Benjamin Moore. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Number 3 on my list of the top-10 green building priorities is to ensure that the houses we build or renovate are healthy. <br /> <br />A green home should be a healthy home. It shouldn't grow mold, mildew, and dust mites. It shouldn't introduce significant quantities of volatile organic compounds (<abbr title="1. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carbon compounds that participate in atmospheric photochemical reactions (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates, and ammonium carbonate). The compounds vaporize (become a gas) at normal room temperatures.2. A molecule containing one or more carbon atoms that tends to evaporate (volatilize) into the air at typical ambi­ent conditions. Some legal definitions of VOCs are restricted to those that react with sunlight to generate smog. Some VOCs are carcinogens, suspected carcinogens, or known irritants at typical levels."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2541">VOCs</a></abbr>) or other hazardous chemicals into the indoor environment. It should have plenty of fresh air for its occupants. <br /> <br />Beyond keeping homeowners healthy, a well-designed green home can go even further with measures to ease stress and enhance a sense of wellbeing. <br /> <br />A few specific strategies for ensuring a healthy indoor environment are described below: <strong>Deal with moisture</strong> <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/NaturaFlat_LoRes2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=259484">NaturaFlat_LoRes2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/DD_rendering_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=183762">DD_rendering_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-3-ensure-healthy-indoor-environment" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-3-ensure-healthy-indoor-environment#comments Tue, 02 Nov 2010 13:00:00 +0000 Web Master 9135 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Priority #4 – Reduce the Need for Driving http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-4-reduce-need-driving <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Lund_Street_8767_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Lund_Street_8767_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Lund, Sweden, is the least car-dependent place I've been. You rarely see a car on the streets, but bicycles and pedestrians are everywhere. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Number 4 on my list of the top-10 green building priorities is to reduce the need for driving. <br /> <br />For very good reasons, we focus a great deal of effort in green building on reducing the energy consumption of our structures--after all, these directly account for more than 35% of our energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. But if you factor in the energy used in getting to and from our buildings--usually in single-occupancy cars and pickup trucks--those percentages grow significantly. And while it's relatively easy to reduce the use of carbon-dioxide-spewing fossil fuels to operate buildings (through efficiency improvements and solar energy, for example), that's much harder with vehicles, where we rely almost entirely on gasoline and diesel. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Lund_Street_8767_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=526516">Lund_Street_8767_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/TEI_table.gif" type="image/gif; length=60683">TEI_table.gif</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Annapolis.Brick019_Burden.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=197995">Annapolis.Brick019_Burden.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Copenhagen_BikeLane_9049_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=392845">Copenhagen_BikeLane_9049_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-4-reduce-need-driving" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-4-reduce-need-driving#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2010 15:45:00 +0000 Web Master 9139 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Priority #5 – Build Smaller http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-5-build-smaller <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//JennyExt066_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//JennyExt066_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>These houses at Jenny Way on Martha's Vineyard range in size from 1,080 to 1,400 square feet. Designed and built by South Mountain Company, these were the first LEED Platinum, single-family, affordable housing units in the country. Photo: Randi Baird. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Number 5 in my list of the top-10 green building priorities is to build smaller houses and optimize the use of materials. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/JennyExt066_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=537226">JennyExt066_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Jenney_21_LoRes1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=374412">Jenney_21_LoRes1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-5-build-smaller" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-5-build-smaller#comments Tue, 19 Oct 2010 19:30:00 +0000 Web Master 9141 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Priority #6 – Ensure Durability and Reuse Existing Buildings http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-6-ensure-durability-and-reuse-existing-buildings <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CobbHillSolar_0073_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CobbHillSolar_0073_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Deep overhangs and standing-seam roofing are among the features of the homes at Cobb Hill Cohousing that will help to ensure a long life. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Number 6 in my list of the top-10 green building priorities is to ensure that the home is durably built or renovated, and to reuse existing buildings when possible rather than building new. <br /> <br />A green home should last a long time. Living in a timber-frame home in Dummerston, Vermont that was built in 1785 and having grown up in a log home in Berwyn, Pennsylvania that was built in 1710 (three centuries ago this year), I think a lot about durability. It shocks me to realize that some of the homes being built today are designed for just a fifty-year lifespan. I feel that homes should last a minimum of 500 years. My friend (and leading building science expert) <a href="http://www.buildingscienceconsulting.com/who/lstiburek.aspx">Joe Lstiburek</a> once told me that a well-designed home today should last 1,000 years. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CobbHillSolar_0073_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=492966">CobbHillSolar_0073_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-6-ensure-durability-and-reuse-existing-buildings" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-6-ensure-durability-and-reuse-existing-buildings#comments Tue, 12 Oct 2010 17:27:00 +0000 Web Master 9143 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Priority #7 – Protect and Restore the Site http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-7-protect-and-restore-site <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CBF_front_entrance(2)_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CBF_front_entrance(2)_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Native landscaping was used around the Chesapeake <abbr title="A bay is a component of a standard, rectilinear building design. It is the open area defined by a building element such as columns or a window. Typically, there are multiple identical bays in succession."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2239">Bay</a></abbr> Foundation headquarters to help protect the Bay. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Number 7 on my list of the top-10 green building priorities is to protect and restore the site. <br /> <br />Of all the environmental problems we're causing as a species--including air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion, ozone depletion, and <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>--loss of biodiversity is the most permanent. Ecologists point out that it can take hundreds of thousands or even millions of years of evolution to fill ecological niches that are being vacated by the extinctions we are causing. <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CBF_front_entrance%25282%2529_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=316430">CBF_front_entrance%282%29_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CBF_bioret_parking_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=468037">CBF_bioret_parking_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-7-protect-and-restore-site" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-7-protect-and-restore-site#comments Tue, 05 Oct 2010 14:30:00 +0000 Web Master 9145 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Priority #8 – Use Green Products http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-8-use-green-products <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//GS_Listed_color.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//GS_Listed_color.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Click on image to enlarge</em></div> <p>Number-eight in my list of the top-10 green building priorities is to use "green" or low-environmental-impact products and materials. <br /> <br />Those who are new to green building may be surprised that material selection isn't right at the top of my priority list. Many people assume that what makes a home green are things like the use of recycled-content or bio-based materials--decking made out of recycled milk jugs or foam insulation made from soybean oil, for example. <br /> <br />Selecting green materials is important, and our company focuses a lot of attention on providing guidance for product selection (especially through our GreenSpec Directory) but, in my opinion, material selection is well down the list of the most important green building priorities--sitting at #8. (Over the coming weeks, you'll learn about the green building strategies that I consider to be higher priority.) What should we look for in green building products? <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/GS_Listed_color.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=145426">GS_Listed_color.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-8-use-green-products" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-8-use-green-products#comments Wed, 29 Sep 2010 15:55:00 +0000 Web Master 9147 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Priority #9 – Create Resilient Houses http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-9-create-resilient-houses <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//days-100-degrees_NoCaption_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//days-100-degrees_NoCaption_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Number of days per year projected to exceed 100 degrees F based on lower-emission scenario (middle) and high-emission scenario (bottom); recent past shown in upper map. Image: U.S. Global Change Research Program. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Number 9 in my list of the top-10 green building priorities is to create resilient houses that will protect occupants in a changing climate or during extended power outages, loss of heating fuel, or water shortages. <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">Climate change</a></abbr> is underway, and some of the impacts of that change will affect our homes. We need to account for that in the design, construction, and remodeling of our homes. For starters, we should plan for hotter temperatures. To limit unwanted solar gain, it makes sense to reduce square-footage of west- and east-facing windows, provide overhangs above south-facing windows, and landscape around our homes with plantings that block direct sun. We should increase insulation levels to slow heat flow through the envelope, provide reflective roofing, and design our homes to make effective use of natural ventilation.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/days-100-degrees_NoCaption_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=123073">days-100-degrees_NoCaption_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-9-create-resilient-houses" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-priority-9-create-resilient-houses#comments Tue, 21 Sep 2010 20:45:00 +0000 Web Master 9150 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Top-10 Green Building Priorities: #10 – Make it Easy for Homeowners to be Green http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/top-10-green-building-priorities-10-make-it-easy-homeowners-be-green <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//RecycleTote.com.JPG" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//RecycleTote.com.JPG" alt="" /></a>Photo: RecycleTote.com</div> <p><em>Over the next ten weeks, I'm going to lay out my top-ten priorities for green building--starting, in Lettermanesque fashion, with #10 and working up to #1. These priorities are directed primarily toward the design and construction profession, but homeowners having a house built or work done on a house need to be part of this discussion too. </em> <em>This shouldn't be thought of as a hard-and-fast priority ranking. Of necessity, I've had to average the various considerations. In some places, where it's extremely dry, for example, or where the ecosystem is pristine, my priority rankings would be quite different. And if I were addressing solely existing buildings or solely new construction, my rankings and some of the measures might vary. Here, I'm taking both new construction and renovation into consideration. </em> <em>My hope is that this will be a good conversation starter. I expect some readers will be surprised at what attributes I consider to be more--or less--significant as we work toward creating greener homes.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/RecycleTote.com.JPG" type="image/jpeg; length=78311">RecycleTote.com.JPG</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/top-10-green-building-priorities-10-make-it-easy-homeowners-be-green" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/top-10-green-building-priorities-10-make-it-easy-homeowners-be-green#comments Wed, 15 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000 Web Master 9151 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Foamglas – My New Favorite Insulation Material http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/foamglas-my-new-favorite-insulation-material <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> GreenSpec Insights </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Karte_Hintergrund1_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Karte_Hintergrund1_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Foamglas is an inorganic, high-compressive-strength insulation with no need for flame retardants or other hazardous chemicals. Photo: Pittsburgh Corning. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>I have a new favorite insulation material. <a href="http://www.foamglas.com/building/">Foamglas® building insulation</a> has been made by Pittsburgh Corning for many decades and is widely used in Europe. For the past decade or two, however, it has only been actively marketed in North America for industrial applications. (It's been listed in our <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/menus/">GreenSpec Directory</a> as an industrial insulation material for years.) <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Karte_Hintergrund1_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=143234">Karte_Hintergrund1_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Folie5_1_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=238569">Folie5_1_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Bv_Schobries_Kiel_FG_Unter_Bodenpl_WU017-LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=267469">Bv_Schobries_Kiel_FG_Unter_Bodenpl_WU017-LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/foamglas-my-new-favorite-insulation-material" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions GreenSpec Insights http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/foamglas-my-new-favorite-insulation-material#comments Wed, 01 Sep 2010 22:45:00 +0000 Web Master 9154 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Saving Water by Conserving Energy http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-water-conserving-energy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Water Wise Guys </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Lake Mead_Oct07_KenDewey_Dsc_5196d70sm5.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Lake Mead_Oct07_KenDewey_Dsc_5196d70sm5.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, which supplies 90% of Las Vegas's water and millions of other residents, shown at about half capacity in 2007. Ken Dewey photo. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Last week we examined the amount of energy it takes to transport and treat water--and how we can conserve energy by using less water. This week, we'll look at the inverse of that: how much water it takes to produce energy and how our energy conservation efforts reduce water use. <strong>The water intensity of energy</strong> Whenever water shortages loom anywhere, we hear about how much "embodied water" there is in various products. According to the <a href="http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/productgallery">Water Footprint Network</a>, producing a slice of bread requires 11 gallons of water and producing a pound of beef takes 1,800 gallons. The same sort of analysis can be done with our energy sources. As with foods, different types of energy have different water intensities.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Lake_Mead_Oct07_KenDewey_Dsc_5196d70sm5.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=85264">Lake_Mead_Oct07_KenDewey_Dsc_5196d70sm5.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-water-conserving-energy" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Water Wise Guys http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-water-conserving-energy#comments Tue, 31 Aug 2010 14:05:00 +0000 Web Master 9155 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Saving Energy by Conserving Water http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-energy-conserving-water <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> <div class="field-item even"> Water Wise Guys </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Stealth_StudioPhoto_LoRes1.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Stealth_StudioPhoto_LoRes1.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Niagara uses innovative "vacuum-assist" hydraulics to provide an effective, yet super-quiet flush in the Stealth toilet, requiring just 0.8 gallons. By using less water, this toilet saves energy. Photo: Niagara Conservation. <strong>Click on image to enlarge</strong></em></div> <p>It takes a lot of energy to transport and treat water in this country, and it takes a lot of water to produce the energy we use. To put this a different way: when we save water we save energy, and when we save energy we save water. Most people don't think about this tight-knit relationship between energy and water, but public officials in a growing number of regions around the country are becoming quite aware of it. This week, I'll examine how much energy it takes to move water and to treat both supply water and wastewater. Next week, I'll look at how much water is used in producing our energy. <strong>The <abbr title="The ratio of consumption to unit of measurement (floorspace, number of workers, etc.) Energy intensity is usually given on an aggregate basis, as the ratio of the total consumption for a set of buildings to the total floorspace in those buildings. Conditional energy intensity and gross energy intensity are presented. The energy intensity can also be computed for individual buildings."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2361">energy intensity</a></abbr> of water:</strong> The amount of energy needed to deliver clean water and treat that water once we've used it varies tremendously by region.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Stealth_StudioPhoto_LoRes1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=43327">Stealth_StudioPhoto_LoRes1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-energy-conserving-water" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Water Wise Guys http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-energy-conserving-water#comments Tue, 24 Aug 2010 17:50:00 +0000 Web Master 9157 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com More Tips for Improving Mileage http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/more-tips-improving-mileage <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Copen_bikes_9049.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Copen_bikes_9049.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>Streets in Copenhagen are designed to provide safe access for bicyclists. Photo: Alex Wilson. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Last week, I touched on some of the strategies coming out of the "hypermiling" movement to boost automobile fuel economy. Here are a few more: 1. Lighten the load. The more weight we haul around in our cars or trucks, the more energy we use. If you keep sandbags in the bed of your pick-up for winter traction, remove them in the summer. Empty your trunk of those unneeded items you've been hauling around. 2. Use air conditioning only when absolutely necessary. In some cars, running the A/C on max reduces mileage by as much as 25%. Around town, open a window. At highway speeds, it's usually better to keep windows closed to reduce aerodynamic drag. If the fan alone doesn't provide enough cooling, this is when the A/C makes sense. 3. Keep your vehicle tuned up. A smoother-running car or truck usually operates more efficiently--and lasts longer.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Copen_bikes_9049.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=195730">Copen_bikes_9049.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/more-tips-improving-mileage" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/more-tips-improving-mileage#comments Wed, 18 Aug 2010 11:30:00 +0000 Web Master 9160 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Driving to Maximize Your Fuel Economy http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/driving-maximize-your-fuel-economy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//EPA_FuelEconomyLabel.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//EPA_FuelEconomyLabel.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>With careful driving techniques it's possible to significantly exceed the EPA mileage rating for any car. Source: U.S. EPA. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>In this column I usually focus on how to save energy in our homes and businesses, but for many of us, getting around is our largest energy consumer--particularly in the summer months when we're not heating our houses. Some of us are lucky enough to have hybrid cars, and this gives us a head start in saving transportation energy. I just calculated that the 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid we own, which averages about 40 miles per gallon (mpg) year-round, has saved us about 2,800 gallons of gas over the 146,000 miles we've driven it (compared with a car getting the U.S. average of 22.5 mpg)--worth $7,000 with gasoline at $2.50 per gallon. But for those who don't have a Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, or other hybrid, there are some simple ways to significantly reduce fuel consumption. It's easy to find tips for more efficient driving, but some of the more extreme strategies have come out of the hypermiling movement.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EPA_FuelEconomyLabel.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=41467">EPA_FuelEconomyLabel.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/HypermilingBumpersticker_CleanMPG.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=86670">HypermilingBumpersticker_CleanMPG.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/driving-maximize-your-fuel-economy" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/driving-maximize-your-fuel-economy#comments Tue, 10 Aug 2010 14:18:00 +0000 Web Master 9162 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Bensonwood Reinventing the House http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/bensonwood-reinventing-house <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Sawa_ 008-2_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Sawa_ 008-2_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>This Bensonwood home in Alstead, New Hampshire, combines high-tech panelized construction and superb energy performance with simple elegance. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>I had the good fortune last week to spend a few hours touring the <a href="http://www.bensonwood.com/">Bensonwood</a> offices and factory in Walpole, New Hampshire. I've known Tedd Benson for perhaps 20 years, and knew of him a lot longer than that through his writings. He pretty-much created the modern timber-framing profession, starting back in the early 1970s when he set out to reinvent the craft of timber-frame construction that our New England ancestors used centuries ago. His 1980 book, Building the Timber Frame House, and several others since, have inspired many of us for their vision, beauty, and rugged durability. In recent years, Benson has shifted his primary focus away from timber framing (though that's still an important part of what his company, Bensonwood, is all about).</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Sawa__008-2_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=401979">Sawa__008-2_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Bensonwood_1470_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=332776">Bensonwood_1470_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Bensonwood_1493_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=285588">Bensonwood_1493_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EBNad1_5.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=0">EBNad1_5.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/whole-wall-window-trim.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=139645">whole-wall-window-trim.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Bensonwood_PassiveHouse_1508_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=282215">Bensonwood_PassiveHouse_1508_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/bensonwood-reinventing-house" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/bensonwood-reinventing-house#comments Tue, 03 Aug 2010 15:32:00 +0000 Web Master 9163 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Dehumidifiers http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/dehumidifiers <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//SantaFe_MaxDry_DualXT.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//SantaFe_MaxDry_DualXT.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>The Therma-Stor Santa Fe Max Dry Dual XT is one of the most efficient stand-alone dehumidifiers on the market, with an Energy Factor of 3.75 liters/<abbr title="A kilowatt-hour is a unit of work or energy, measured as 1 kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power expended for 1 hour. One kWh is equivalent to 3,412 Btu."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2429">kWh</a></abbr>. Photo: Therma-Stor. <strong>Click on image to enlarge.</strong></em></div> <p>Last week, after reviewing a little physics regarding condensation and latent heat, I described how <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/7/20/Removing-Moisture-from-Homes-with-Air-Conditioners">air conditioners remove unwanted humidity</a>. This week I'll examine how dehumidifiers work in removing moisture and when it makes sense to use them. Like air conditioners, dehumidifiers remove moisture by condensing water vapor out of the indoor air. While an air conditioner dumps the warm air that's produced through that condensation process (latent heat) outdoors, a dehumidifier doesn't get rid of that heat. Instead, releases the warm air into the space where it's is located.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/SantaFe_MaxDry_DualXT.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=389885">SantaFe_MaxDry_DualXT.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/dehumidifiers" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/dehumidifiers#comments Wed, 28 Jul 2010 03:27:00 +0000 Web Master 9165 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Removing Moisture from Homes with Air Conditioners http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/removing-moisture-homes-air-conditioners <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//LG_AirConditioner_1120_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//LG_AirConditioner_1120_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a><em>This LG window air conditioner at the BuildingGreen office has a setting that maximizes moisture removal. Click on image to enlarge.</em></div> <p>Last week, I addressed strategies for <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/7/13/Controlling-Humidity">controlling moisture sources in homes</a> during the summer--one of the contributors to discomfort during hot humid summers. This week, I'll examine how to remove unwanted humidity using air conditioning equipment, starting with some fundamentals. To understand moisture removal, it's important to brush up on a bit of physics. Air is able to hold only a finite amount of water vapor, and that amount is governed by the temperature of the air. Warm air can hold more moisture than cool air. This is why water droplets appear on that cold glass of iced tea: the outer surface of the glass is cold so the air close to the glass cools off and the amount of moisture it can hold drops.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/LG_AirConditioner_1120_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=208157">LG_AirConditioner_1120_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/AC_Controls_1126_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=244953">AC_Controls_1126_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/removing-moisture-homes-air-conditioners" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/removing-moisture-homes-air-conditioners#comments Tue, 20 Jul 2010 17:29:00 +0000 Web Master 9168 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Controlling Humidity http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/controlling-humidity <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//WhisperGreen_80cfm_SmartAction_MotionSensor_FV-08VKM2.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//WhisperGreen_80cfm_SmartAction_MotionSensor_FV-08VKM2.jpg" alt="" /></a>To remove moisture when showering, install a quiet <abbr title="A popular government-sponsored product certification and label established in 1992 for energy efficient products and energy-efficient buildings."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term1826">Energy Star</a></abbr> bath fan, such as this Panasonic FV-08VKM2 with built-in motion sensor. <em>Click on image to enlarge.</em></div> <p>High relative humidity is a significant problem in many regions of the country during the summer months. In hot weather, the higher the humidity, the less comfortable we are--partly because moisture does not evaporate from our skin as readily. More worrisome over the long haul, high humidity levels in the air and high moisture content of materials in our homes can result in mold growth, which, in turn, can cause allergies and other health problems (as well as damage the building itself). There are two broad strategies for minimizing indoor humidity problems during the summer months: eliminating moisture sources, and removing moisture from the air. This week we'll take a look at controlling moisture sources; next week we'll examine moisture removal. Keeping moisture out of a home is almost always less expensive and less energy-intensive than removing that moisture.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/WhisperGreen_80cfm_SmartAction_MotionSensor_FV-08VKM2.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=111811">WhisperGreen_80cfm_SmartAction_MotionSensor_FV-08VKM2.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-png" alt="image/png icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Fndn_drainage_00080.png" type="image/png; length=21733">Fndn_drainage_00080.png</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/controlling-humidity" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/controlling-humidity#comments Tue, 13 Jul 2010 19:03:00 +0000 Web Master 9170 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Simple Strategies for Keeping Cool http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/simple-strategies-keeping-cool <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//duette04b_TheBlindAlley.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//duette04b_TheBlindAlley.jpg" alt="" /></a>While blocking sunlight on the outside of a house is better than using interior insulating blinds to reflect sunlight back out through windows, the latter can still make a big difference. <em>Click on image to enlarge.</em></div> <p>We're into those hot days of summer--really hot--with temperatures predicted in the mid- to upper-90s, even in Vermont, this week. In this column I'll provide some simple tips for keeping (reasonably) cool in hot weather or, if you use air conditioning, operating that air conditioning equipment most efficiently. <strong>Keep the sun out</strong> Shading windows is the easiest way to keep your house cool or keep your air conditioning bills down. Pulling down interior window blinds will help (the more reflective the outer surface of the blinds the better), but shading is even more effective if you can block the sunlight on the outside of your windows. In Europe, exterior roller blinds are often used, and these are beginning to catch on here, but they're not yet widely available.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/duette04b_TheBlindAlley.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=121598">duette04b_TheBlindAlley.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/duetteariosa1b_TheBlindAlley.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=53488">duetteariosa1b_TheBlindAlley.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/simple-strategies-keeping-cool" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/simple-strategies-keeping-cool#comments Tue, 06 Jul 2010 15:16:00 +0000 Web Master 9173 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com It's Time to Rethink the All-Glass Building http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/its-time-rethink-all-glass-building <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//All-Glass_Bldg_Chelsea_from_EBN_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//All-Glass_Bldg_Chelsea_from_EBN_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a>The highly glazed CORE Building on 7th Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Upper floors are residential. Photo: Alex Wilson <em>Click on image to enlarge.</em></div> <p>The July 2010 issue of Environmental Building News asks whether we should end our love affair with all-glass buildings. The short answer is "yes." With most large commercial buildings there is an energy penalty associated with increasing the glazing area beyond 20 to 30 percent. Given today's glazing technologies, it does not make sense to create highly glazed buildings. That is especially the case with "green" buildings, where extra effort is being made to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. <br /> <br /><strong>The energy penalty of more glazing</strong> <br /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/All-Glass_Bldg_Chelsea_from_EBN_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=200225">All-Glass_Bldg_Chelsea_from_EBN_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/AnnEnergyConsumpation.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=38750">AnnEnergyConsumpation.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Peak_Heating_and_Cooling.gif" type="image/gif; length=73313">Peak_Heating_and_Cooling.gif</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/MetLife_and_BOA_0928_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=156088">MetLife_and_BOA_0928_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/its-time-rethink-all-glass-building" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/its-time-rethink-all-glass-building#comments Thu, 01 Jul 2010 15:55:00 +0000 Web Master 9174 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com New Lighting for Historic Covered Bridge http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/new-lighting-historic-covered-bridge <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Night_WestEnd_0700_LoRes.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Night_WestEnd_0700_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /></a>The 1872 West Dummerston covered bridge, Vermont's longest covered bridge that's still in use, has just been fitted with state-of-the-art LED lighting.</div> <p>One of Vermont's longest and most treasured covered bridges now has the newest, most environmentally responsible lighting. This past weekend, the 267-foot West Dummerston Covered Bridge (the longest operating covered bridge fully within Vermont), built in 1872 by Caleb Lamsom and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was fitted with state-of-the-art LED lighting. Ten new fixtures replace very old high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures. Those of the older units that were still working at all (see photo of fixtures that were removed) had greatly reduced output and resulted in poor visibility in the bridge. While some people might have liked the dim, warm-yellow light that the aged HPS lights provided, the <abbr title="In lighting, the ratio of light output (in lumens) to input power (in watts). Higher efficacy indicates higher efficiency."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2353">efficacy</a></abbr> (lumens per watt) of that lighting was horrible. Despite the very low light output, each of the HPS fixtures was still using 100 watts of electricity as much as 17 hours per day.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Night_WestEnd_0700_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=132466">Night_WestEnd_0700_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/OldFixtures_0621_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=177358">OldFixtures_0621_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/MountingFixture_0659_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=166302">MountingFixture_0659_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/StanHowe_0644_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=144267">StanHowe_0644_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/MountedFixture_0674_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=166440">MountedFixture_0674_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/new-lighting-historic-covered-bridge" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/new-lighting-historic-covered-bridge#comments Wed, 30 Jun 2010 01:20:00 +0000 Web Master 9175 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Saving Energy by Recycling http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-energy-recycling <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CompactedWaste_6725_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /> While our homes and cars get most of the attention relative to energy savings, our materials stream also has a huge impact on energy use. Nationally, the U.S. generates about 236 million tons of municipal solid waste each year, according to the <a href="http://www.epa.gov/">U.S. Environmental Protection Agency</a>. That works out to about 4 pounds of waste for every American every day. Recycling our waste saves a lot of energy. Just how much depends on the material. With very energy-intensive materials, like aluminum, carpeting, and copper, a phenomenal amount of energy is saved because the new materials take so much energy to produce. Recycling just one ton of aluminum cans saves 209 million British Thermal Units (<abbr title="A unit of energy consumed by or delivered to a building. A Btu is an acronym for British thermal unit and is defined as the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit, at normal atmospheric pressure. Energy consumption is expressed in Btu to allow for consumption comparisons among fuels that are measured in different units."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2258">Btu</a></abbr>), according to EPA; with 5.8 million Btu in a barrel of crude oil, that's equivalent to 36 barrels of oil.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CompactedWaste_6725_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=145681">CompactedWaste_6725_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/MRF_6703_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=233618">MRF_6703_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Bunker_6716_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=202402">Bunker_6716_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/BaledPaper_6708_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=241855">BaledPaper_6708_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-energy-recycling" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-energy-recycling#comments Wed, 23 Jun 2010 16:23:00 +0000 Web Master 9178 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Now's the Time to Install Solar http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/nows-time-install-solar <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CobbHillSolar_0070.jpg" alt="" /> This summer is a great time to get a good deal on a solar water heating or solar-electric (photovoltaic) system for your home. While I argued a few months ago in this column that the 30% federal solar tax credit has some flaws--key among them being that it's based on the dollar value rather than performance and that there's no cap on the cost of the system (and credit you can earn)--these aren't reasons not to take advantage of it. While the <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index">solar tax credits</a> are scheduled to be in place until 2016, I won't be at all surprised to see them scaled back or eliminated well before then. If you haven't noticed, the political pendulum is swinging, and incumbents who supported the stimulus funding are now being cast as reckless spenders and are losing primaries. I think we'll see a growing focus on deficit control--and that could well include scaling back on incentives like the solar tax credits. The bottom line is that now's the time to benefit from the solar tax credit.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CobbHillSolar_0070.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=126855">CobbHillSolar_0070.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CobbHillSolar_0105.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=136491">CobbHillSolar_0105.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/nows-time-install-solar" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/nows-time-install-solar#comments Wed, 16 Jun 2010 02:12:00 +0000 Web Master 9180 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Driving Our SUVs to the BP Protests http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/driving-our-suvs-bp-protests <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//mike06012010.jpg" alt="" /> I'm sorry, but the irony is just too thick these days. We Americans are rightly upset with <a href="http://www.bp.com">BP</a> for the devastating spill in the Gulf that is wreaking ecological devastation on a mammoth scale. But as I watch the television news and read the daily coverage, I'm not hearing enough outrage at our petroleum-dependent lifestyles and the gas-guzzling vehicles we hop into at a moment's notice to drive to the store for a pint of ice cream. We need to hold a mirror up to ourselves at those protest rallies. Oil spills are tragic on multiple levels: to the affected ecosystems; to those who depend on the region's bounty for their livelihoods; to the tourism industry in the region; and even to employees at the oil companies and public agencies whom we have to assume are trying hard to do the right thing. Residents of the Gulf Coast and ecosystems are being--or will soon be--devastated by the spill that continues to hemorrhage tens of thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf daily. We must redouble efforts to protect coastal wetlands while workers with their undersea robotic vehicles continue trying to stem the leak.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/mike06012010.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=43990">mike06012010.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/driving-our-suvs-bp-protests" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/driving-our-suvs-bp-protests#comments Tue, 08 Jun 2010 21:19:00 +0000 Web Master 9182 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Avoiding the Global Warming Impact of Insulation http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/avoiding-global-warming-impact-insulation <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//brightbuilt_081508_0055-crop_LoRes.jpg" alt="" /> Can insulation materials, which we use to save energy and help prevent <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>, <em>cause</em> greenhouse gas emissions? Yes, in two ways. First, it takes energy to produce and ship these materials--which we refer to as "<abbr title="1. Embodied energy is the energy used during the entire life cycle of a product, including its manufacture, transportation, and disposal, as well as the inherent energy captured within the product itself.2. The energy expended in the process of creating a product, often including the fuel value of its constituent parts as well as transportation to its point of use."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2356">embodied energy</a></abbr>"--and using fossil fuels for these energy needs releases carbon dioxide (our most significant greenhouse gas). So in a sense, all insulation materials have embodied global warming potential (<abbr title="Global Warming Potential is a measure of how much heat is trapped by a given mass of gas, contributing to global warming, compared with the same mass of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide has a GWP value of 1."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term1853">GWP</a></abbr>). Second, two of our common insulation materials are made with hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) blowing agents that are very potent greenhouse gases. Extruded polystyrene (XPS), best known by the brands <a href="http://building.dow.com/na/en/products/insulation/tonguegroove.htm">Dow Styrofoam</a> ("blueboard") and <a href="http://insulation.owenscorning.com/professionals/insulation-products/foamular-250.aspx">Owens Corning Foamular</a> ("pinkboard"), insulates to R-5 per inch and is made with HFC-134a, which has a GWP of 1,430--meaning that it's 1,430 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/brightbuilt_081508_0055-crop_LoRes.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=207205">brightbuilt_081508_0055-crop_LoRes.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/embodied_GWP_with_title.gif" type="image/gif; length=65709">embodied_GWP_with_title.gif</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/GWP_Payback_chart1_with_title.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=35545">GWP_Payback_chart1_with_title.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/GWP_Payback_chart2_with_title.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=38611">GWP_Payback_chart2_with_title.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EBNad1_7.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=0">EBNad1_7.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/avoiding-global-warming-impact-insulation" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/avoiding-global-warming-impact-insulation#comments Tue, 01 Jun 2010 19:20:00 +0000 Web Master 9185 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Emergency Energy Conservation Saves a School http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/emergency-energy-conservation-saves-school <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//SMIT_Transformer.jpg" /><br /> Back when I was in college, a transformer failure forced the school to cut electricity demand by two-thirds--and I found myself leading student energy conservation efforts.</p> <p>As an avid environmentalist with a casual awareness of the importance of energy conservation when I entered college in the 1970s, a chance situation clarified for me just how much energy could be saved through strong, concerted effort. Sometime in 1974 or '75 (those years tend to run together for me for some reason), the transformer serving <a href="http://www.ithaca.edu/">Ithaca College</a> blew up. </p> <p>The initial blackout was remedied after a day or two when the utility company hooked up an emergency transformer that could be used until the replacement was built--which was expected to take three months. (Large transformers are typically built to order; utility companies don't have back-<abbr title="An uninterrupible power supply, or UPS, provides usually short-term emergency power to computer or other systems in case of outages."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2551">ups</a></abbr> sitting on a shelf.) But this emergency transformer was one-third the size of the original--necessitating drastic conservation efforts on campus. I must have had a reputation for environmental activism, because I was tapped for an emergency response committee to coordinate student energy conservation efforts.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/SMIT_Transformer_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=28983">SMIT_Transformer_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/emergency-energy-conservation-saves-school" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/emergency-energy-conservation-saves-school#comments Tue, 25 May 2010 21:17:00 +0000 Web Master 11975 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Bloom Box Rekindles Excitement About Fuel Cells http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/bloom-box-rekindles-excitement-about-fuel-cells <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Installation_005.JPG" /><br /> The high-profile roll-out of the highly secretive Bloom Box fuel cell, on CBS's <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6228923n&amp;tag=mncol;lst;1">60 Minutes</a> in February, ushered in a new round of excitement about fuel cells. </p> <p>Fuel cells have been around for over 50 years. They are, in essence, chemical batteries that <abbr title="1. Churn is the movement of workstations and people within a space.2. The reorganization of office space due to relocation of an employee from one workstation to another, employee turnover, or reorganization of an entire office."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2291">churn</a></abbr> out electricity as long as a fuel, such as hydrogen or natural gas, is fed in at the other end. They have been a mainstay of power generation in NASA's space program for decades and have slowly been making inroads for more earthly applications. </p> <p>While President George W. Bush and many others have touted hydrogen fuel cells as the "energy source of the future," a fuel cell is not an energy source at all, but rather a device that converts a fuel into electrical energy--and it does so quite efficiently and cleanly. </p> <p>One of the problems with most fuel cells is that they require pure hydrogen for their operation, and hydrogen is a difficult material to store and transport. Being our lightest element, hydrogen has to be compressed to achieve a reasonable power density, so you're usually dealing with very high pressures in storing it.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Installation_005_0.JPG" type="image/jpeg; length=101443">Installation_005_0.JPG</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/KR_Sridhar_JonathanSprague-photo_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=30379">KR_Sridhar_JonathanSprague-photo_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Bloom_EnergyServers_eBay_002_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=73857">Bloom_EnergyServers_eBay_002_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/bloom-box-rekindles-excitement-about-fuel-cells" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/bloom-box-rekindles-excitement-about-fuel-cells#comments Wed, 19 May 2010 01:26:00 +0000 Web Master 11978 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Fiber Optics for Daylighting http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/fiber-optics-daylighting <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Parans_Showroom.jpg" /><br /> Fiber optics, that miracle of modern communications, can also be used to deliver natural light to spaces deep in a building.</p> <p>Last week I focused on <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/5/4/Tubular-skylight-bringing-natural-daylight-through-an-unheated-attic">tubular skylights</a>, which provide a great way to bring daylighting into home offices, hallways, bathrooms, and other spaces. An aluminum tube that's highly reflective on the interior transmits daylight down through an unheated attic to the space below--delivering the light through what appears to be a fairly standard light-diffusing ceiling fixture.</p> <p>It's a great technology--especially with the relative low cost--but it has some limitations. You need a relatively straight shot, and it's hard to extend the tubes through living space to reach first-floor spaces in multi-storey buildings.</p> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Parans SP21.jpg" />For those with deep pockets, "active daylighting" using fiber optics provides a way to bring daylight deep into a home or commercial building--beyond the reach of tubular skylights.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Parans_Showroom_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=116272">Parans_Showroom_0.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Parans_SP21.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=203413">Parans_SP21.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Parans_OC_x_4.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=66087">Parans_OC_x_4.jpg</a></div> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Parans_L3middle1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=335015">Parans_L3middle1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/fiber-optics-daylighting" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/fiber-optics-daylighting#comments Tue, 11 May 2010 18:10:00 +0000 Web Master 11981 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Tubular Skylights Introduce Daylight to Dark Interiors http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tubular-skylights-introduce-daylight-dark-interiors <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//solartubecutaway1.gif" /><br /> Much attention is focused on efficient lighting--from CFLs and <abbr title="Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, use semiconductors to produce light, giving them more in common with computer chips than with conventional incandescent lighting."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2553">LEDs</a></abbr> to advanced controls. But for daytime lighting you can avoid electricity use altogether--with daylighting. Most daylighting is provided with windows or skylights (roof windows that are installed in the plane of the roof). For a lot of applications, there's another, easier option: tubular skylights.</p> <p>Tubular skylights have three components: a round, domed plastic skylight that mounts on the roof; an 8- to 22-inch-diameter cylindrical metal tube with a highly reflective interior surface that is usually less that 12 feet long, but in some cases may be over 20 feet; and a diffuser that mounts on the ceiling. Sunlight shines through the skylight dome and bounces its way downward through the reflective tube to the diffuser, which delivers the light below. For cold climates, some manufacturers offer an additional layer of glazing in the tube or diffuser to reduce heat loss back up through the tubular skylight.<br /> While a standard skylight requires structural modifications to carry roof loads as well as a large, insulated light-well to bring the light into the living space, a tubular skylight is thin enough that it can fit between roof rafters or trusses and ceiling joists.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/solartubecutaway1_0.gif" type="image/gif; length=19711">solartubecutaway1_0.gif</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tubular-skylights-introduce-daylight-dark-interiors" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tubular-skylights-introduce-daylight-dark-interiors#comments Tue, 04 May 2010 19:04:00 +0000 Web Master 11984 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Now Might be a Good Time to Replace Your Heating System http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/now-might-be-good-time-replace-your-heating-system <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//York.jpg" /><br /> If your heating system is old and inefficient, now is a great time to replace it with a new, high-efficiency model. There are eight months remaining to take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit that's available for installing energy-efficient gas- or oil-fired furnaces and boilers, as well as air-source heat pumps.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/home.aspx">American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009</a>, a key part of the federal economic stimulus program, extended a 30% federal tax credit for certain home energy upgrades through 2010. The <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index">tax credit</a> covers both the equipment and installation cost and is capped at $1,500. In other words, you can get the full 30% tax credit for a system costing up to $5,000.<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/York_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=33054">York_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/now-might-be-good-time-replace-your-heating-system" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/now-might-be-good-time-replace-your-heating-system#comments Wed, 28 Apr 2010 00:40:00 +0000 Web Master 11964 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Earth Day plus 40 http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/earth-day-plus-40 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Earth_Apollo_17_1972_LoRes.jpg" /><br /> The 40th anniversary of Earth Day arrives this week to relatively little fanfare. We're focused on other things: high unemployment, a moribund economy, residual sniveling over health insurance reform. But 40 years is an important milestone.</p> <p>I was the Earth Day coordinator at my junior high school in Wayne, Pennsylvania, 40 years ago. I remember running off Earth Day flyers on the school's mimeograph machine and can still recall that sweet (no-doubt-toxic) aroma of the chemicals those machines used. I recall, too, the huge celebration in Philadelphia's <a href="http://www.fairmountpark.org/">Fairmount Park</a> (I believe the largest Earth Day celebration anywhere that year). Pioneering landscape architect Ian McHarg, of the University of Pennsylvania, chaired the event.</p> <p>One of my distinct memories was of a speaker asking participants to pledge never to buy a new internal-combustion-engine car. We knew about the air pollution and resource extraction impacts of petroleum (though not yet global warming), and automobiles were correctly recognized as one of the major culprits. I didn't join that pledge--suspecting, rightly, that I would indeed buy a new car somewhere along the line, and I've bought several.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Earth_Apollo_17_1972_LoRes_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=63630">Earth_Apollo_17_1972_LoRes_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/earth-day-plus-40" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/earth-day-plus-40#comments Wed, 21 Apr 2010 14:21:00 +0000 Web Master 11966 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Myth #7: Green Homes are Ugly http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-7-green-homes-are-ugly <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//not-so-big-house-cover1.jpe.jpg" /><br /> For the last several weeks I've been describing a number of common myths about green building. This week I'll address the myth that green homes are ugly--that incorporating solar and other green features somehow compromises aesthetics.</p> <p>I was active in the solar energy movement back in the late 1970s and early '80s, when, indeed, a whole lot of ugly solar homes were built. Back then, solar energy was often captured by appending large fiberglass-glazed solar panels onto roofs at odd angles or adding stark glass walls to the south side of homes, without regard to proportions and design sensibilities. There were solar geodesic domes and yurts and bizarre, high-tech structures that looked as if they had just landed from outer space. Meanwhile, the "superinsulated" houses of that era were austere--often simple boxes with very small windows and very little appeal.</p> <p>There are certainly oddball homes still being built today, but there is no reason that green homes have to stand out. Indeed, there are thousands of examples of very attractive houses being built or renovated today that one would be hard-pressed to immediately identify as particularly energy-efficient or green.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/not-so-big-house-cover1.jpe_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=208038">not-so-big-house-cover1.jpe_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-7-green-homes-are-ugly" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-7-green-homes-are-ugly#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2010 02:24:00 +0000 Web Master 11969 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Myth #6: Technology Will Solve All Our Problems http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-6-technology-will-solve-all-our-problems <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//HangingLaundryOutside_fibers.com.jpg" /><br /> The last several weeks I've written about a number of common myths of green building. (Last's week's myth: <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/3/30/Green-Building-Myth-5-Adding-Solar-is-the-Best-Way-to-Green-a-Home">solar panels are the best way to green a home</a>.) Here's another: that the energy-conservation features and products we install are enough to ensure that our houses will be top energy performers.</p> <p>The starting point in greening a home should always be the sorts of features I cover weekly <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/Energy-Solutions">in this blog</a>: high levels of insulation, good air sealing and weatherization, efficient heating and <abbr title="The equipment used for cooling room air in a building for human comfort."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2315">cooling equipment</a></abbr>, energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and renewable energy systems. But these systems aren't enough to ensure that our energy bills will be low. How we operate our houses also has a huge impact.</p> <p>To use an extreme example, even a superinsulated house with R-50 walls and triple-glazed windows will use a huge amount of energy if we leave the windows open all winter. Most of us would never do that--but we do leave the lights on and run water unnecessarily all the time.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/HangingLaundryOutside_fibers.com_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=42816">HangingLaundryOutside_fibers.com_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-6-technology-will-solve-all-our-problems" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-6-technology-will-solve-all-our-problems#comments Tue, 06 Apr 2010 18:57:00 +0000 Web Master 11971 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Passive House in North America http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/passive-house-north-america <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Whitmore_RaisingWall_LoRes1.jpg" /> </p><p>Our April <em>EBN</em> feature article--<a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2010/3/31/Passive-House-Arrives-in-North-America-Could-It-Revolutionize-the-Way-We-Build/">"Passive House Arrives in North America: Could it Revolutionize the Way We Build?"</a>--went online today. This was a fun article to research and write, because it put me in touch with my low-energy building roots. Until digging into the history of Wolfgang Feist's German <a href="http://www.passiv.de/07_eng/index_e.html">Passivhaus</a> standard, I hadn't realized that this building system really had its origins in North America--with the passive solar energy and superinsulation movements of the late 1970s (back when I got involved in this field while working in New Mexico).<br /> </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Whitmore_RaisingWall_LoRes1_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=143756">Whitmore_RaisingWall_LoRes1_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/passive-house-north-america" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions Op-Ed http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/passive-house-north-america#comments Wed, 31 Mar 2010 18:11:00 +0000 Web Master 11943 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Myth #5: Adding Solar is the Best Way to Green a Home http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-5-adding-solar-best-way-green-home <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Maumee_OH_home_by_DeckerHomes_of_Lambertville_MI_BIPV_NREL_PIX_15617.jpg" /></p> <p>The last several weeks I've written about common myths of green building: that it <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/3/4/Does-Green-Building-Have-to-Cost-More">has to cost more</a> to build green, that green building is <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/3/10/Green-Building-Myth-Its-All-About-Materials">mostly about materials</a>, that <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/3/16/Green-Building-Myth-3-Green-Products-Dont-Work-as-Well-as-Standard-Products">green products don't work as well</a> as conventional products, and that it's <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/3/23/Green-Building-Myth-4-Green-Products-Are-Hard-to-Find">hard to find green products</a>. This week I'll cover the myth that adding solar panels is the best way to green a home.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Maumee_OH_home_by_DeckerHomes_of_Lambertville_MI_BIPV_NREL_PIX_15617_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=30469">Maumee_OH_home_by_DeckerHomes_of_Lambertville_MI_BIPV_NREL_PIX_15617_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-5-adding-solar-best-way-green-home" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-5-adding-solar-best-way-green-home#comments Wed, 31 Mar 2010 01:34:00 +0000 Web Master 11944 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Myth #4: Green Products Are Hard to Find http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-4-green-products-are-hard-find <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//PPG_PurePerformance.jpg" /></p> <p>The last few weeks I've written about common myths of green building: that <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/3/4/Does-Green-Building-Have-to-Cost-More">it has to cost more to build green</a>, that <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/3/10/Green-Building-Myth-Its-All-About-Materials">green building is mostly about materials</a>, and that <a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm/2010/3/16/Green-Building-Myth-3-Green-Products-Dont-Work-as-Well-as-Standard-Products">green products don't work as well as conventional products</a>. This week I'll cover the myth that green building products are hard to find.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/PPG_PurePerformance_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=65246">PPG_PurePerformance_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-4-green-products-are-hard-find" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-4-green-products-are-hard-find#comments Tue, 23 Mar 2010 21:49:00 +0000 Web Master 11946 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Green Building Myth #1: Does Green Building Have to Cost More? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-1-does-green-building-have-cost-more <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//energyuse1.jpg" /><br /> <div align="right">Even if a small house has lower levels of insulation than a larger house, it's likely to cost less to heat. 1. R-19 walls, R-30 ceilings, double-<abbr title="Low-E or Low-Emissivity Coating: Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that reduces heat loss and heat gain through the window; the coating emits less radiant energy (heat radiation), which makes it, in effect, reflective to that heat. In that way it boosts a window's R-value and reduces its U-factor."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2440">low-e</a></abbr> (U=0.36) vinyl windows, R-4.4 doors, infiltration of .50 <abbr title="The number of times per hour a volume of air, equivalent to the volume of space, enters that space."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2204">ACH</a></abbr>, and R-6 ducts in attic; 2. R-13 walls, R-19 attic, insulated glass vinyl windows, R-2.1 doors, infiltration of .50 ACH, and uninsulated ducts; 3. Natural gas at $0.50 per therm; 4. Electricity at $0.10 per <abbr title="A kilowatt-hour is a unit of work or energy, measured as 1 kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power expended for 1 hour. One kWh is equivalent to 3,412 Btu."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2429">kWh</a></abbr>. </div> </p><p>Having written about green building for more than twenty years now, I've encountered lots of misperceptions. One of those is that green building always has to cost a lot more than conventional building. There are plenty of examples where it does cost more (sometimes significantly more), but it doesn't have to, and green choices can even reduce costs in some cases. Let me explain.<br /> When someone is considering building a green home, my first, number-one recommendation is to keep the size down. Since 1950, the average house size in the U.S. has more than doubled, while family size has dropped by 25% -- so we're providing 2.8 times more area per person than we were back then.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/energyuse1_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=47353">energyuse1_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-1-does-green-building-have-cost-more" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/green-building-myth-1-does-green-building-have-cost-more#comments Thu, 04 Mar 2010 19:54:00 +0000 Web Master 11959 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Ground-Source Heat Pumps http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ground-source-heat-pumps-0 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CBF_front_entrance(2)_LoRes.jpg" /><em>The most common configuration of a ground-source <abbr title="A type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2404">heat pump</a></abbr> has tubing laid in a horizontal trench--often as a series of coils.</em></div> <p>Despite being highly efficient at turning kilowatt-hours of electricity into heat or chilled air, ground-source heat pumps have a significant drawback and usually aren't the best heating system choice.</p> <p>For the past month, I've examined various home energy improvements for which one can earn a <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index">30% federal tax credit</a>. The last of these opportunities I'll cover is ground-source heat pumps. A ground-source heat pump (GSHP) is also referred to as a "geothermal" heat pump, though I prefer the former terminology, to avoid confusion with true geothermal energy systems that rely on elevated temperatures deep underground from the Earth's mantle. GSHPs are eligible for the 30% tax credit with no cap on the dollar amount that can be received. But this system may not be the best choice for home heating, and I'd like to offer some warnings about the potential for exaggerated claims and outright scams.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CBF_front_entrance%25282%2529_LoRes_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=316430">CBF_front_entrance%282%29_LoRes_1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ground-source-heat-pumps-0" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ground-source-heat-pumps-0#comments Mon, 22 Feb 2010 20:52:00 +0000 Web Master 11935 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Home Wind Power http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/home-wind-power <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//skystream.jpg" /> <em>The Skystream 3.7 is rated at 2.4 kW in a 24-mph wind. This system is in Mullica Hills, New Jersey.</em></div> <p>The 30% federal tax credit for residential wind turbines (with no upper limit) opens the door to scams, which could tarnish the reputation of the wind energy industry</p> <p>For several weeks now, I've addressed tax credits for home energy improvements. The <a href="http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/home.aspx">American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009</a> provides a 30% tax credit for a wide range of energy measures, including efficiency retrofits, better heating and <abbr title="The equipment used for cooling room air in a building for human comfort."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2315">cooling equipment</a></abbr>, and renewable energy systems, including solar water heating and photovoltaics, which I discussed last week. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/skystream_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=16896">skystream_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/home-wind-power" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/home-wind-power#comments Mon, 15 Feb 2010 21:09:00 +0000 Web Master 11937 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Tax Credits for Solar Energy Systems http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tax-credits-solar-energy-systems <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//NREL_PIX_Glastonbury_CT_2.52kW_EvergreenSolar_groSolar_15679.jpg" /><em>This gird-connected, 2.52 kW PV system in Glastonbury, Connecticut, comprised of Evergreen Solar modules, was installed by groSolar, of White River Junction, Vermont.</em></div> <p>Take advantage of these tax credits now, because they're unlikely to last.</p> <p>I've been addressing tax credits for home energy improvements the past few weeks. This week, we'll look at what's available for solar energy systems.</p> <p>Through the <a href="http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/home.aspx">American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009</a>, a 30% tax credit was created for a wide range of measures, including insulation, window replacement, and heating system upgrades (see <a href="http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/tax-credits-energy-upgrades">January 26, 2010 column</a>). Most of the home energy tax credits are capped at $1,500 and expire at the end of 2010. With solar energy systems and a few other measures, though, there is no cap on the dollar amount, and the program is scheduled to remain in place until the end of 2016.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/NREL_PIX_Glastonbury_CT_2.52kW_EvergreenSolar_groSolar_15679_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=47840">NREL_PIX_Glastonbury_CT_2.52kW_EvergreenSolar_groSolar_15679_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tax-credits-solar-energy-systems" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tax-credits-solar-energy-systems#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2010 14:02:00 +0000 Web Master 11940 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Tax Credits for Window Replacement http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tax-credits-window-replacement <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Thwaites_BostonHouse_crop.jpg" /><em>Five different glazing options, along with the option of having no windows, are shown here for a highly insulated house in the Boston climate. Shown are the annual combined heating and cooling loads. Energy modeling was done by Bruce Gough of Energy Building Group using the Minto Inspiration house as the baseline.</em></div> <p>Why the 30-30 Requirement for Windows Isn't Very Smart</p> <p><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm?mode=entry&amp;entry=D0BC09BB-948F-C150-E7EA9794F24BC3FB">Last week</a>, I provided an overview of the 30% federal tax credits that are in place for 2009 and 2010 for residential energy upgrades. Most of the provisions of those tax credits are very good. In the rush to do a lot very quickly, though, some mistakes were made. One such mistake, in my opinion, has to do with the credit provided for window replacement.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Thwaites_BostonHouse_crop_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=92371">Thwaites_BostonHouse_crop_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tax-credits-window-replacement" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tax-credits-window-replacement#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2010 14:21:00 +0000 Web Master 11942 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Tax Credits for Energy Upgrades http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tax-credits-energy-upgrades <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//EnergyStar_TaxCredits.png" /></div> <p>Benefiting from the 30% federal tax credit for energy improvements</p> <p>There are some great opportunities right now to upgrade your home energy performance with support from federal tax credits. These tax credits, created as part of the <a href="http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/home.aspx">American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009</a> greatly expanded tax credits that had been put in place through the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct). Over the next few weeks I'll describe these tax credits--addressing what they cover and how you can benefit--but also editorializing a bit about some of the poorly thought-out features. </p> <p>A 30% federal tax credit with a cap of $1,500 is available for 2009 and 2010 for six broad energy conservation measures and equipment purchases. This tax credit is available only for existing homes that serve as principal residences, and the $1,500 is a total figure that can be spread over multiple energy improvements, but can't be exceeded. This group of tax credits is described briefly below, and a number of them will be covered in greater detail in future columns. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-png" alt="image/png icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/EnergyStar_TaxCredits_0.png" type="image/png; length=66648">EnergyStar_TaxCredits_0.png</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tax-credits-energy-upgrades" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/tax-credits-energy-upgrades#comments Mon, 25 Jan 2010 14:39:00 +0000 Web Master 11924 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Innovative Financing for Energy Improvements http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/innovative-financing-energy-improvements <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Solar PV2 CIMG1756 (4)1.jpg" /><br /> <em>The PV system on this Lafayette, Colorado home, providing 100% of the power requirements, was installed with no money down through Boulder County's ClimateSmart program. The cost will be repaid through the homeowners' tax bill.</em></div> <p>One of the greatest challenges to energy improvements is the financing needed to make those improvements. Conventional home improvement and business loans have such short terms (usually less than ten years) that the interest costs are often greater than the energy savings--making such loans hard to afford for most families and businesses. Also, it's hard to justify putting money into a house if you're not sure how long you'll be there.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Solar_PV2_CIMG1756_%25284%25291.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=412401">Solar_PV2_CIMG1756_%284%291.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/innovative-financing-energy-improvements" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/innovative-financing-energy-improvements#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2010 14:43:00 +0000 Web Master 11926 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Seeking Common Ground on Climate Change Policy http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/seeking-common-ground-climate-change-policy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Pettit Back Low-Res.jpg" /><em>This deep-energy retrofit on Betsy Pettit's 100-year-old house makes sense whether or not <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr> is happening. Photo: Betsy Pettit, FAIA.</em></div> <p>How to build a stronger country and a cleaner planet</p> <p><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm?mode=entry&amp;entry=D0D2CBD6-D40D-43CB-EA70CB384F1A8C7F">Last week's column</a> took a quick look at the science of climate change and how scientific hypotheses have shifted over time based on new evidence. In developing public policy, I believe we should start with a firm foundation of science--whether the issue is banning lead in gasoline, regulating the annual harvest of salmon, or adopting policies on energy efficiency. The better the science, the better the resulting policies or laws.</p> <p>So, what about climate change? Today, the overwhelming consensus among scientists is that human activities are warming the earth's climate and dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are needed to stave off potentially catastrophic consequences.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Pettit_Back_Low-Res.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=127561">Pettit_Back_Low-Res.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/seeking-common-ground-climate-change-policy" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/seeking-common-ground-climate-change-policy#comments Mon, 11 Jan 2010 14:52:00 +0000 Web Master 11929 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Science, Climate Change, and Policy http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/science-climate-change-and-policy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//PolarBear.jpg" /></div> <p>Global warming deniers have garnered a lot of attention in recent years. From opinion columns and letters in our local newspaper to heated reporting on Fox News (whose trademarked slogan "Fair &amp; Balanced" is often anything but), those who doubt the underlying science of global warming are receiving unprecedented access to the American public and to policymakers.</p> <p>Let me offer a few thoughts on all this. I've long had a fascination with the science of <abbr title="1. Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)2.The increase in global average temperatures being caused by a buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This temperature change is leading to changes in circulation patterns in the air and in the oceans, which are affecting climates differently in different places. Among thepredicted effects are a significant cooling in Western Europe due to changes in the jet stream, and rising sea levels due to the melting of polar ice and glaciers."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2296">climate change</a></abbr>. After college, with a degree in biology, I worked for a while at the <a href="http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/aboutcrs.html">Congressional Research Service</a> at the Library of Congress studying world food problems. One of the issues I was investigating was whether changes in the world's climate might affect agricultural production. I just pulled from my bookshelf a faded yellow report that I had used in this research: <em>A Primer on Climatic Variation and Change</em>.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/PolarBear_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=93353">PolarBear_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/science-climate-change-and-policy" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/science-climate-change-and-policy#comments Mon, 04 Jan 2010 15:04:00 +0000 Web Master 11933 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Last-Minute Shopping List for Christmas http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/last-minute-shopping-list-christmas <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//1B_wovel_lg.jpg" /><em>Folding Frame Sno Wovel, designed to reduce the physical strain of shoveling and the related risks of back and heart injuries.</em></div> <p>You're down to the last few days before Christmas. You're looking for that meaningful, special gift for a family member, special friend, or co-worker. Buy a gift that keeps on giving--by saving energy! Below, is my top-10 list of energy-saving holiday gifts.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/1B_wovel_lg_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=43265">1B_wovel_lg_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/last-minute-shopping-list-christmas" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/last-minute-shopping-list-christmas#comments Mon, 21 Dec 2009 15:12:00 +0000 Web Master 11915 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Vacuum-Insulated Windows http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/vacuum-insulated-windows <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Guardian_VIG.jpg" /><em>If you look closely at a low viewing angle, you can see the tiny pillars in this prototype Guardian VIG panel.</em></div> <p><a href="/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/making-case-triple-glazed-window">Last week</a> we took at look at one way to achieve very-high-performance windows: adding additional layers of glazing and multiple low-<abbr title="Emissivity is the ratio of the radiation emitted by a surface to the radiation emitted by a black body at the same temperature."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2359">emissivity</a></abbr> (low-e) coatings. This week, we'll look at another option that's even higher-tech: vacuum-insulated glass.</p> <p>We know how well vacuums work in reducing heat flow. That's how Thermos bottles function. We have a thirty-year-old Stanley Thermos bottle at home that keeps hot chocolate piping hot for eight hours. Most of the air molecules have been removed from the double-walled stainless steel shell of a Thermos bottle, and this dramatically slows conductive and convective heat flow. You might remember from high-school physics that conduction depends on having molecules close together so that kinetic energy can be transferred from one molecule to the next, while convection depends on molecules of a warm fluid (such as air) moving from one place to another and transferring heat in the process.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Guardian_VIG_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=66718">Guardian_VIG_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/vacuum-insulated-windows" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/vacuum-insulated-windows#comments Tue, 15 Dec 2009 15:16:00 +0000 Web Master 11917 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Making the Case for Triple-Glazed Windows http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-case-triple-glazed-windows <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//RMI_4151.jpg" /><em>Reglazing the Rocky Mountain Institute in 2007 with R-20 center-of-glass Alpen Windows (now Serious Windows).</em></div> <p>It won't surprise many of my readers to learn that I'm a fanatic about energy conservation and efficiency. That goes back more than 30 years to the mid-70s. During those years I've paid a lot of attention to windows--and seen dramatic improvement in window performance. </p> <p>Before the 1973 energy crisis, the best windows were made from two layers of glass, usually separated by a quarter-inch air space. Then some researchers at MIT invented a very thin, transparent metallic coating that significantly reduced heat loss by reducing the amount of heat the glazing would radiate outward. These low-<abbr title="Emissivity is the ratio of the radiation emitted by a surface to the radiation emitted by a black body at the same temperature."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2359">emissivity</a></abbr>, or low-e, coatings were on suspended plastic film between the layers of glass (the original MIT approach) or coated directly onto the glass. </p> <p>Other researchers figured out that if the air between the layers of glass were replaced with a lower-conductivity gas, further reductions in heat loss could be achieved. Argon has been most commonly used for this, though the best windows today use krypton or even xenon gas-fill.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/RMI_4151_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=156071">RMI_4151_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-case-triple-glazed-windows" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-case-triple-glazed-windows#comments Mon, 07 Dec 2009 15:19:00 +0000 Web Master 11918 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com High-Tech Windows with Dynamic Glazings http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/high-tech-windows-dynamic-glazings <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-1_10.gif" /><em>A before and after comparison of the results from dynamic window glazing.</em></div> <p><a href="http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/storing-heat-walls-phase-change-materials">Last week</a> I wrote about one of the innovative building materials that I saw at this year's <a href="http://www.greenbuildexpo.org/Home.aspx">Greenbuild Conference</a> in Phoenix (phase-change drywall). This week, I'll cover a very different innovation from the conference: dynamic window glazing.</p> <p>Windows provide some important functions in houses: admitting natural daylight, allowing views to the outdoors, letting in fresh air, and protecting against unwanted heat loss and gain. How effectively they do all this depends mostly on the glazings (usually glass, but sometimes plastic, or a combination of glass and plastic). Energy performance can be significantly improved by adding multiple layers of glazing separated by sealed air spaces, by using special low-<abbr title="Emissivity is the ratio of the radiation emitted by a surface to the radiation emitted by a black body at the same temperature."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2359">emissivity</a></abbr> (low-e) coatings on the glazing, by using tinted glass that blocks unwanted solar heat gain, or by using low-conductivity gas fill, such as argon and krypton, that slows the movement of heat through the space between layers of glass.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-1_10_0.gif" type="image/gif; length=171192">Untitled-1_10_0.gif</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/high-tech-windows-dynamic-glazings" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/high-tech-windows-dynamic-glazings#comments Tue, 01 Dec 2009 15:29:00 +0000 Web Master 11921 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Just Say No to Idling http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/just-say-no-idling <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-3_0.jpg" /><em>Idling a medium-sized car just five minutes each day will crank out about 30 pounds of harmful pollutants in a year plus 300 pounds of carbon dioxide.</em></div> <p>The easiest energy savings come from little changes in our behavior that don't cause any hardship--or even result in ancillary benefits. Such is the case with reducing the amount of time spent idling a car engine when stopped. Turning off the ignition at the drive-up window or when pulled over to take a cell phone call not only saves energy (burning less gasoline), but also pollutes less--a big benefit for the teller at the drive-up bank window. You might even improve your car's operation.</p> <p>Average drivers in America idle five to ten minutes per day--sitting at traffic lights, warming up the car in the morning, waiting at the drive-up McDonalds, or picking up the kids at the bus stop. This is "voluntary idling"--as opposed to the idling that occurs in traffic congestion. Idling ten minutes per day wastes about 30 gallons of gas per year. Collectively, Americans consume about 3.8 million gallons of gasoline per day from voluntary idling.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-3_0_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=13723">Untitled-3_0_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/just-say-no-idling" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/just-say-no-idling#comments Mon, 23 Nov 2009 18:56:00 +0000 Web Master 11890 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Just Say No to Idling http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/just-say-no-idling-0 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-3_0.jpg" /><em>Idling a medium-sized car just five minutes each day will crank out about 30 pounds of harmful pollutants in a year plus 300 pounds of carbon dioxide.</em></div> <p>The easiest energy savings come from little changes in our behavior that don't cause any hardship--or even result in ancillary benefits. Such is the case with reducing the amount of time spent idling a car engine when stopped. Turning off the ignition at the drive-up window or when pulled over to take a cell phone call not only saves energy (burning less gasoline), but also pollutes less--a big benefit for the teller at the drive-up bank window. You might even improve your car's operation.</p> <p>Average drivers in America idle five to ten minutes per day--sitting at traffic lights, warming up the car in the morning, waiting at the drive-up McDonalds, or picking up the kids at the bus stop. This is "voluntary idling"--as opposed to the idling that occurs in traffic congestion. Idling ten minutes per day wastes about 30 gallons of gas per year. Collectively, Americans consume about 3.8 million gallons of gasoline per day from voluntary idling.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-3_0_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=13723">Untitled-3_0_1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/just-say-no-idling-0" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/just-say-no-idling-0#comments Mon, 23 Nov 2009 18:56:00 +0000 Web Master 11891 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Storing Heat in Walls with Phase-Change Materials http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/storing-heat-walls-phase-change-materials <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-1_7.gif" /><em>National Gypsum introduced ThermalCORE at this year's GreenBuild conference, though the product is not yet commercially available..</em></div> <p>I just returned from the <a href="http://www.greenbuildexpo.org/Home.aspx">Greenbuild conference</a> in Phoenix. This annual event, now in its eighth year, has become the leading locus for exchange of information about the rapidly growing green building movement. This year's event drew some 22,000 attendees, including architects, builders, engineers, developers, and manufacturers, from the U.S., Canada, and dozens of other countries.</p> <p>As is typical at Greenbuild, I spent a lot of my time in the trade show. While there were only a few hundred exhibitors at the first Greenbuild in Austin, Texas, this year's conference drew 1,800 exhibitors--so I had acres to cover. Indeed, there was lots of new stuff--despite the state of the economy and building industry. This week I'll focus on one of them: a phase-change wallboard, ThermalCORE, just announced by <a href="http://www.nationalgypsum.com/">National Gypsum</a>.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-1_7_0.gif" type="image/gif; length=40252">Untitled-1_7_0.gif</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/storing-heat-walls-phase-change-materials" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/storing-heat-walls-phase-change-materials#comments Mon, 23 Nov 2009 15:38:00 +0000 Web Master 11892 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Update on a Wood Chip CHP Plant for Brattleboro http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/update-wood-chip-chp-plant-brattleboro <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p>A little over a year ago <a href="http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/bringing-combined-heat-and-power-brattleboro">I reported</a> on the efforts of a local organization, Brattleboro Thermal Utility (<abbr title="A unit of energy consumed by or delivered to a building. A Btu is an acronym for British thermal unit and is defined as the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit, at normal atmospheric pressure. Energy consumption is expressed in Btu to allow for consumption comparisons among fuels that are measured in different units."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2258">BTU</a></abbr>), to develop a wood-chip-fired "combined heat and power" (<abbr title="Combined heat and power (CHP), or cogeneration, generates both electrical power and thermal energy from a single fuel source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2289">CHP</a></abbr>) plant for the town. In that column I reported that BTU, on whose board I sit, was trying to identify a company to carry out a preliminary feasibility study for the project; we were also seeking funding for that study.</p> <p>Funding for the feasibility study was received from Vermont's <a href="http://publicservice.vermont.gov/energy/ee_cleanenergyfund.html">Clean Energy Development Fund</a>, with some matching support from the Town of Brattleboro. The Exeter, New Hampshire firm, <a href="http://www.waldron.com">Waldron Engineering and Construction</a>, was identified to carry out the study, with the <a href="http://www.biomasscenter.org/">Biomass Energy Resource Center</a> in Montpelier, Vermont providing additional technical input. Results of that study are now in, and I'll provide a brief summary here.</p> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/update-wood-chip-chp-plant-brattleboro" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/update-wood-chip-chp-plant-brattleboro#comments Tue, 17 Nov 2009 15:40:00 +0000 Web Master 11897 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Drying Clothes With Less Energy http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drying-clothes-less-energy <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//clothes-line.jpeg.jpg" /><em>Drying clothes indoors accounts for approximately 6% if all household electricity in the U.S.</em></div> <p><a href="http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/clothes-washer-revolution">Last week</a>, we took a look at how to save energy and water with clothes washing. This week we'll turn our attention to drying, which accounts for approximately 6% of all household electricity consumption in the U.S. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/clothes-line.jpeg_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=44810">clothes-line.jpeg_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drying-clothes-less-energy" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drying-clothes-less-energy#comments Thu, 12 Nov 2009 15:42:00 +0000 Web Master 11904 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Clothes Washer Revolution http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/clothes-washer-revolution <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//washer.gif" /><em>The Whirlpool Duet -- the latest washer to be used at the Wilson residence.</em></div> <p>In the 1980s, when my wife and I were expecting our first child, we decided it was time to give up our weekly adventure at the laundromat and buy our first clothes washer: a used Maytag. It was rugged and generally dependable despite its age, but it had a big drawback: it used about 50 gallons of water to wash a load of laundry. Our house was served by a spring that often ran dry in the late summer, so we had to watch our water use very carefully. It wasn't too long before we decided to replace that Maytag.</p> <p>Even back then, I was a resource-efficiency fanatic, and I wanted to buy a high-efficiency washer that would use not only significantly less water but also a lot less energy--because most of the energy use of a clothes washer is to heat the water. I had done enough research on laundry appliances to know that front-loading (horizontal-axis or H-axis) washers were much more efficient than top-loading (vertical-axis or V-axis) model. Front-loaders were common in laundromats, and they dominated the market in Europe.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/washer_0.gif" type="image/gif; length=25666">washer_0.gif</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/clothes-washer-revolution" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/clothes-washer-revolution#comments Mon, 02 Nov 2009 15:45:00 +0000 Web Master 11912 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariffs http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/renewable-energy-feed-tariffs <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-1_21.jpg" /><em>Earlier this year, Vermont became the first state to approve feed-in tariffs. The state has a goal of producing 20% of its electricity using renewable energy by 2017..</em></div> <p>Vermont made history last week, becoming the first state to offer "feed-in tariffs" for electricity generated from renewable energy sources.</p> <p>Feed-in tariffs have been used since the early 1990s in Europe, most notably in Germany, to jump-start the photovoltaic (solar electricity) industry. In a nutshell, they are government-mandated, long-term power purchase contracts for electricity generated by renewable energy systems at rates that are significantly higher than the market rate for wholesale power.</p> <p>In Germany, feed-in tariff rates have been as high as $0.60/kilowatt-hour (<abbr title="A kilowatt-hour is a unit of work or energy, measured as 1 kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power expended for 1 hour. One kWh is equivalent to 3,412 Btu."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2429">kWh</a></abbr>)--far above either the going wholesale rate that power producers are paid or the retail price of electricity. With such a power-purchase structure, all of the utility customers pay slightly higher electricity bills to subsidize the payments to the renewable energy producers.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-1_21_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=83405">Untitled-1_21_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/renewable-energy-feed-tariffs" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/renewable-energy-feed-tariffs#comments Mon, 26 Oct 2009 14:48:00 +0000 Web Master 11874 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Improving Water Heater Efficiency http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/improving-water-heater-efficiency <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//water heater.jpg" />&gt;<em>Insulating your water heater is a very effective way of reducing heat loss.</em></div> <p><a href="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/index.cfm?mode=entry&amp;entry=D1007CC1-941B-CF7A-4A40CFFF5DEB005B">Last week</a> I wrote about a high-tech solution for water heating--<a href="/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/heat-pump-water-heaters">heat-pump water heaters</a> that can cut costs by more than half compared to conventional electric water heating. This week, I'll address the low-tech efficiency side of water heating. </p> <p>First, some context: in a typical American home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heating accounts for about 16% of total annual energy expenditures--a little more than for air conditioning, on a national-average basis, and twice as much as is used for refrigerators. An average American family pumps nearly 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year from heating water, a not-insignificant contributor to global warming.</p> <p>The two easiest ways to reduce your energy use for hot water are to a) use less hot water, and b) reduce heat loss in your water heating and hot water distribution systems. We'll take a look at each of these in turn.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/water_heater.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=47375">water_heater.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/improving-water-heater-efficiency" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/improving-water-heater-efficiency#comments Tue, 20 Oct 2009 14:55:00 +0000 Web Master 11877 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Heat Pump Water Heaters http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heat-pump-water-heaters <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Geyser_MedRes.jpg" /><em>The North Road Technologies Geyser <abbr title="A type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2404">heat pump</a></abbr> water heater..</em></div> <p>There's a revolution underway with electric water heating. It could be just as significant as the shift from top-loaders to horizontal-axis front-loaders that we've seen in the laundry appliance industry.</p> <p>For years, electric water heaters were simply insulated tanks with a couple of electric-resistance elements that heated the water. These have worked pretty well, and with the highest-insulation products, the "Energy Factor" (a standardized measure of efficiency that factors in losses through the insulated tank) of the best products get pretty close to 1.0 (100% efficient).</p> <p>Within the past few months, at least three electric water heaters have been introduced that double this efficiency. These are heat pump water heaters. <a href="http://www.rheem.com/">Rheem</a> offers the 50-gallon HP-50; the German company <a href="http://www.stiebel-eltron-usa.com/">Stiebel Eltron</a> introduced in the U.S. the 80-gallon Accelera 300; and <a href="http://www.northrdt.com/">North Road Technologies</a> offers the "retrofit" Geyser product that connects to a conventional electric or gas water heater.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Geyser_MedRes_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=114903">Geyser_MedRes_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heat-pump-water-heaters" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heat-pump-water-heaters#comments Mon, 12 Oct 2009 14:57:00 +0000 Web Master 11883 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Efficiency First http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/efficiency-first <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//bridge.jpg" /><em>Alex and others from GreenBuildingAdvisor.com recently attended the West Coast Green conference in San Francisco -- the nation's largest green building conference and trade show focused exclusively on residential applications.</em></div> <p>I'm writing this from San Francisco, where I've been at the West Coast Green Conference. This is the fourth year of the event--the nation's largest green building conference and trade show focused exclusively on residential applications. It was in the Fort Mason Center, a sprawling, ex-military base with large, daylit buildings that are now used for exhibitions, and assorted meeting spaces throughout other buildings in the complex. It's right on the water, just west of Fisherman's Wharf--looking out on the Golden Gate Bridge.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/bridge_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=3108075">bridge_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/efficiency-first" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/efficiency-first#comments Mon, 05 Oct 2009 15:01:00 +0000 Web Master 11885 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Time to Tune Up Your Heating System http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/time-tune-your-heating-system <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//furnace_inspection.jpg" /><em>When inspecting your heating system, recognize that some things you can do yourself, and others are best done by a professional.</em></div> <p>Mechanical systems need to be tuned up periodically to keep them operating smoothly and efficiently. That's true with our cars, and it's true with our heating systems. If you haven't done so already, now is the time to get your heating system inspected, cleaned, and tuned.<br /> Some of this annual maintenance can be done by homeowners, but most of it should be done by a heating system technician.</p> <p>Here are some things you can do yourself:</p> <p>Check and adjust your thermostats. If you have programmable thermostats in your house, take advantage of their convenience and savings potential by properly setting them. Most provide multiple time-periods during weekdays, with potential for separate settings on weekends. For more on programmable thermostats, see my prior column, "<a href="http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/using-thermostats">Using Thermostats</a>."</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/furnace_inspection_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=817134">furnace_inspection_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/time-tune-your-heating-system" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/time-tune-your-heating-system#comments Mon, 28 Sep 2009 18:25:00 +0000 Web Master 11858 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Avoid Unvented Gas Heaters http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/avoid-unvented-gas-heaters <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-1_17.jpg" /><em>Strong influence by the unvented appliance industry has made it more difficult for states and provinces to prohibit these products. Today, only California has a ban on unvented appliances.</em></div> <p>Let me get right to the point: unvented gas (and kerosene) space heaters and fireplaces are a bad idea. Don't install one.</p> <p>Euphemistically called "vent-free appliances" by the gas industry (see <a href="http://www.ventfree.org">ventfree.org</a>), unvented heaters and fireplaces that are installed indoors release combustion products directly into the living space. These heaters are very popular, with buyers attracted to the low purchase price and inexpensive installation. According to data in Appliance Magazine, U.S. sales of vent-free room heaters have averaged 290,000 units per year from 2004 through 2008.</p> <p>Installation is cheap. You just buy the unit, hook it up to your gas supply, and turn it on. There's no annoying vent pipe to install through the wall or up the chimney. Simple, right?</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-1_17_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=39665">Untitled-1_17_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/avoid-unvented-gas-heaters" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/avoid-unvented-gas-heaters#comments Tue, 22 Sep 2009 18:37:00 +0000 Web Master 11865 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Combined Heat and Power in Sweden http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/combined-heat-and-power-sweden <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//VEAB_steam_turb_9240.jpg" alt="" /><em>Lars Ehrlén, manager of heat and power for Växjö Energi AB, standing in front of the 38 MW steam turbine at the Sandvik <abbr title="Combined heat and power (CHP), or cogeneration, generates both electrical power and thermal energy from a single fuel source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2289">CHP</a></abbr> plant</em></div> <p><a href="http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/getting-around-sweden">Last week</a> I described some observations about transportation from a trip I took to Sweden two years ago. While there, I toured two state-of-the-art, wood-chip-fired, combined heat and power (CHP) plants, one in Kristianstad and one in Växjö.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/VEAB_steam_turb_9240_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=229913">VEAB_steam_turb_9240_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/combined-heat-and-power-sweden" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/combined-heat-and-power-sweden#comments Wed, 16 Sep 2009 18:43:00 +0000 Web Master 11867 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Getting Around in Sweden http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-around-sweden <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-category"> <div class="field-label">Blog Category:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Energy Solutions </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Parking_Lot_9024.jpg" alt="" /><em>A nearly empty parking lot in Lund, Sweden during the middle of the workday. Residents of Lund, and many European cities, spend less time in automobiles than their counterparts in the U.S.</em></div> <p>I had the great fortune two years ago to spend a couple weeks in Sweden. In late December 2007 I was visiting my daughter, who was studying at Lund University.</p> <p>When I arrived in Lund by train from the airport in Copenhagen, Denmark, it was late afternoon, raining lightly, and nearly dark--even southern Sweden is quite far north. I was immediately struck by the way people got around: despite the rain, bicyclists were everywhere; sidewalks were filled with pedestrians; and I think city busses almost outnumbered cars.</p> <p>Something was different here. Lund is an old, medieval city, densely populated with row-houses lining the narrow, cobblestone streets and broad sidewalks. Compared with my home state of Vermont, it's also fairly flat, making it well-suited to bicycling.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Parking_Lot_9024_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=169651">Parking_Lot_9024_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-around-sweden" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-around-sweden#comments Mon, 07 Sep 2009 18:46:00 +0000 Web Master 11869 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Air Conditioning With Ice http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/air-conditioning-ice <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//BankOfAmerica_Calmac.jpg" /><em>Calmac IceBank tanks at One Bryant Park in New York City, one of the nation's greenest high-rise buildings.</em></div> <p><a href="/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/keeping-cool-hot-weather">Last week</a>, we took a look at practical, easy-to-implement strategies for keeping our buildings cool during hot weather. This week, I'll describe a fascinating way to cool buildings using electricity at night to make ice. This isn't something most of us can run out and implement in our houses, but it's highly practical and cost-effective for many commercial buildings.</p> <p>The technology is often referred to as "thermal energy storage" or TES. It's a practice most common in large commercial buildings, but at least one company is pursuing a residential market. </p> <p>Here's how it works: At night, electricity is used to make ice. Most TES systems use "chillers" to cool an antifreeze solution that circulates through tubing in insulated tanks of water. Ice builds up on these submerged coils and by morning the whole tank is frozen. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/BankOfAmerica_Calmac_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=66202">BankOfAmerica_Calmac_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/air-conditioning-ice" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/air-conditioning-ice#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2009 18:57:00 +0000 Web Master 11843 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Keeping Cool in Hot Weather http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-cool-hot-weather <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//natte_l_web.jpg" /><em>Exterior shades is one way to keep out direct sunlight during hot summer days.</em></div> <p>If yesterday's forecast was correct, today may be the hottest day of the year for much of New England--with temperatures rising into the mid-90s. This may not draw much sympathy from friends in Austin, Texas where today's temperature may rise to 100 in this unusually hot summer, or in Phoenix, where it's projected to warm up to 107 (well below the season high of 116), but for southern Vermont, the mid-90s is pretty hot.</p> <p>There are lots of things we can do to keep reasonably cool during hot weather. The easiest--but most expensive--is to turn on an air conditioner, which uses electricity (a lot of it) to cool down a space and remove moisture. There are other strategies that use a lot less energy, though they require some thought and common sense.</p> <p>The first priority should be to keep unwanted heat out of the house. This means closing windows during the hottest part of the day and using blinds, awnings, or other devices to keep direct sunlight out of windows--especially on the east and west side of a house. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/natte_l_web_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=26544">natte_l_web_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-cool-hot-weather" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/keeping-cool-hot-weather#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2009 19:00:00 +0000 Web Master 11850 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Hardest Insulating Job Ever http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/hardest-insulating-job-ever <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//h153jaRW.preview_0.gif" /><em>The hazards of a poorly sealed crawl space: 1) Roof runoff and improper grading allow water to collect, where it can enter the crawlspace through cracks in the foundation walls. 2) Humid summer air enters the crawlspace through foundation vents and condenses. 3) Radon rises through the soil, into the crawlspace and ultimately into the living space. For more information, see <a href="http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/green-basics/crawl-spaces">Crawl Spaces</a>.</em></div> <p>I've done a bunch of home weatherizing and insulating projects over the years; let me tell you about the worst.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/h153jaRW.preview_0_0.gif" type="image/gif; length=61626">h153jaRW.preview_0_0.gif</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/hardest-insulating-job-ever" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/hardest-insulating-job-ever#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2009 19:02:00 +0000 Web Master 11853 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Drainage on Exterior Walls http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drainage-exterior-walls <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-1_1.gif" /><em>Installation of Cedar Breather rainscreen material on house in Yarmouth, Maine.</em></div> <p><a href="/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/deep-energy-retrofits">Last week</a> I wrote about "deep-energy retrofits"--strategies for dramatically reducing the energy consumption of an existing house. In northern climates, such retrofits often involve adding a layer of rigid insulation to the exterior of a house. If you're removing the siding to add insulation, this is a great time to provide a drainage layer--or "rainscreen"--before reinstalling siding. </p> <p>A rainscreen detail provides an air space between the exterior siding or cladding and the wall sheathing (whether rigid insulation, as described above, plywood, or wood). </p> <p>That air space does two primary things. First, it allows any moisture that gets through the siding or cladding to evaporate and dissipate up and out, or flow down to the bottom of the wall. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-1_1_0.gif" type="image/gif; length=178475">Untitled-1_1_0.gif</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drainage-exterior-walls" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/drainage-exterior-walls#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2009 19:28:00 +0000 Web Master 11854 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Deep-Energy Retrofits http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/deep-energy-retrofits <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-2_1.jpg" /><em>A variety of insulation types were used on this retrofit including blown-in celluose, rigid foam, and cotton batts.</em></div> <p>Starting in the 1970s, following the first energy crisis, major weatherization programs were launched to tighten up American homes. The Weatherization Assistance Program of the U.S. Department of Energy, which focuses on low-income homes, has weatherized some 6.2 million dwellings, reducing energy consumption by an average of 32%, since its inception in 1976. State and local programs and private weatherization companies have weatherized tens of millions of additional homes.</p> <p>All this is great. But it isn't enough. If the U.S. is serious about reducing our contributions to global warming it is becoming increasingly clear that we will have to go a lot further in reducing the energy consumption of existing houses. Residential buildings account for 21% of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and 4.3% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-2_1_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=75850">Untitled-2_1_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/deep-energy-retrofits" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/deep-energy-retrofits#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2009 19:32:00 +0000 Web Master 11821 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com How Tight is Too Tight? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-tight-too-tight <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//ventilation_0.jpg" /><em>Sucking air out is one way to clean up indoor air With an exhaust-only system, make-up air comes from air leaks in the building envelope. This drawing also shows passive air inlets in the walls.</em></div> <p>As houses get tighter, they becaome less able to 'breathe' on their own -- they need mechanical ventilation. Put another way, energy efficient houses deserve healthy indoor air.</p> <p>The first question I usually get when I start talking about insulating and buttoning-up houses is, "Won't my house be too tight?" It's a very logical question.</p> <p><strong>Tight houses need fresh air</strong><br /> As we make houses tighter, less air flows through them. With less circulation, pollutants in the house can build up. These pollutants can include carbon dioxide from our breathing, smoke from burning our toast, volatile organic compounds (<abbr title="1. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carbon compounds that participate in atmospheric photochemical reactions (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates, and ammonium carbonate). The compounds vaporize (become a gas) at normal room temperatures.2. A molecule containing one or more carbon atoms that tends to evaporate (volatilize) into the air at typical ambi­ent conditions. Some legal definitions of VOCs are restricted to those that react with sunlight to generate smog. Some VOCs are carcinogens, suspected carcinogens, or known irritants at typical levels."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2541">VOCs</a></abbr>) from cleaning materials and furnishings, moisture (which isn't a pollutant itself, but causes mold and other problems), and, yes, even bathroom deodorizers that often contain harmful chemicals. Without as much fresh air getting in to dilute those pollutants and replenish the oxygen we need, aren't we going to suffocate? Shouldn't the house be left leaky?</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/ventilation_0_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=20663">ventilation_0_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-tight-too-tight" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-tight-too-tight#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2009 19:36:00 +0000 Web Master 11823 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com How Much Insulation is Needed? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-much-insulation-needed <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//new_insulation.jpg" /></div> <p>Standard residential construction in much of the country is 2x4 framing with fiberglass insulation, achieving a paltry R-10 or so in the walls. If insulation is installed at all on the foundation walls, it's rarely more than an inch thick, and insulation is almost never put under slabs. In Vermont, we typically do a lot better. Act 250, enacted nearly four decades ago, required developers to improve energy performance and that led to a widespread switch to 2x6 framing in home building.</p> <p>But 2x6 wall construction is still woefully inadequate in my book. A well-built 2x6 frame wall insulated with dense-pack cellulose or fiberglass will achieve only about R-17 or R-18 (accounting for the "thermal bridging" through the more conductive wood studs). If we want to have a chance of achieving the carbon-emission-reduction goals that climate scientists tell us will be needed--80% reduction by 2050, or even sooner--we will have to start insulating houses much better.</p> <p>So what's a reasonable target?</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/new_insulation_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=14654">new_insulation_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-much-insulation-needed" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/how-much-insulation-needed#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2009 19:40:00 +0000 Web Master 11828 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Getting Ready for Winter? http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-ready-winter <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-1_6.jpg" /></div> <p>But summer has hardly started!</p> <p>As we fire up the grill and hope that the rain will let up enough for us to enjoy summer, we should also remember that the days are now getting shorter, and in just a few months we'll be firing up our heating systems again.</p> <p>Now's the time to think about how we can keep our heating costs down next winter. Here I'll present a few of my top priorities in preparing for winter:</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-1_6_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=136960">Untitled-1_6_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-ready-winter" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/getting-ready-winter#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2009 19:45:00 +0000 Web Master 11833 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com One Year Later http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/one-year-later <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-1_5.jpg" /><em>Fuel prices reached historic height last year.</em></div> <p>When I started writing this weekly column for the <a href="http://reformer.com">Brattleboro Reformer</a> one year ago this week, the price of oil was spiraling to an all-time high of $147 per barrel. Residents were dealing with pre-buy heating oil contracts at over $4.50 per gallon. Panic was brewing.</p> <p>Then, with a tanking economy, oil prices collapsed. Crude oil prices plummeted 80% to a four-year low of $30/barrel by late December 2008. To the surprise of a lot of experts--and myself--those prices have been rising fairly steadily since, doubling since the first of the year. In 2006 and 2007, when the price of oil rose into new territory of around $70 per barrel, that was huge news, dominating headlines. Today, having experienced prices twice as high, $70 per barrel doesn't seem so high at all.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-1_5_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=62010">Untitled-1_5_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/one-year-later" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/one-year-later#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2009 19:34:00 +0000 Web Master 11802 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Waiting for Hot Water http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/waiting-hot-water <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Taco_D&#039;Mand_undersink.jpg" /><em>The D'Mand system, installed under a sink, allows the user to bring hot water to the sink very quickly without wasting the water.</em></div> <p>Over the past several weeks, I've written about water conservation as a strategy for saving energy and examined a number of water heating options. This week, we'll look at the issue of water waste while waiting for hot water and what to do about it.</p> <p>Here's the problem: Most of us waste a lot of water waiting for hot water to reach a sink or shower. In a large house, it's not unusual for 50 feet of piping--or more--to extend from the water heater to the most distant fixtures. And with 50 feet of pipe, it can take a long time for hot water to reach the tap; while waiting all the water goes down the drain.</p> <p>How long you have to wait for hot water depends on three factors: the distance from the water heater, the diameter of the piping, and the flow rate. The effect of distance is pretty obvious: the further hot water has to flow, the longer it will take to get there. With a new house, you can keep plumbing runs short by locating bathrooms and the kitchen near each other.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Taco_D%2527Mand_undersink.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=89017">Taco_D%27Mand_undersink.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/waiting-hot-water" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/waiting-hot-water#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2009 19:42:00 +0000 Web Master 11805 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Off-Peak Electric Water Heating http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/peak-electric-water-heating <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//electric-water-heater.jpg" /><em>Diagram of an electric water heater.</em></div> <p>Twenty-five years ago, if you had predicted that I might be suggesting that electric water heating could be a good option, I'd have asked what you were smoking. I agreed with the argument that it's dumb to use such a high-grade form of energy (electricity) for such a low-grade energy need--a need that can be satisfied with renewables, such as solar energy or wood heat. I was also aware--and still am--of the significant environmental impacts of many of our power-generation options.</p> <p>But here I am, suggesting that electricity can sometimes be a pretty good option for water heating. What's up?</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/electric-water-heater_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=33637">electric-water-heater_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/peak-electric-water-heating" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/peak-electric-water-heating#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2009 19:44:00 +0000 Web Master 11810 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Using Your Heating System to Heat Water http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/using-your-heating-system-heat-water <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-1_4.jpg" /><em>In this photo, the indirect water heater is the large tank on the left.</em></div> <p>Continuing our series on water heating, this week we'll look at two options for heating water with the home's central boiler. First some terminology: boilers heat water or produce steam for distribution in baseboard units or steam radiators, while furnaces heat air for distribution through ducts and registers. Integrating water heating with a standard hot-air furnace is not possible; if you have a furnace, you have to stick with a stand-alone water heater.</p> <p>There's a lot of appeal to the idea of using your boiler to also heat water. You can get by with just one burner for both heat and hot water, so there's less to maintain or to go wrong, and when you're heating the house anyway, it doesn't take all that much extra energy to heat water also.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-1_4_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=36950">Untitled-1_4_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/using-your-heating-system-heat-water" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/using-your-heating-system-heat-water#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2009 19:47:00 +0000 Web Master 11813 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Storage vs. Tankless Water Heaters http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/storage-vs-tankless-water-heaters <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//ccp_tankless_water_heater.gif" /></div> <p>Last week I suggested some <a href="/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/saving-energy-saving-water">ways to reduce your hot water use</a>. This is almost always the easiest way to save energy with water heating--it's the "low-hanging fruit" to be sure. Over the next few weeks, I'll get into water heating options. To start, let's look at the differences between "storage" and "tankless" water heaters.</p> <p>The vast majority of homes have storage-type water heaters. There's an insulated tank and either a gas burner or electric heating element (often two elements) to heat the water. An advantage of storage water heaters is that you don't need a very large gas burner or a really high electric current flow to heat the water. The gas burner or element can chug along for hours, gradually warming up water in the tank. The water remains "thermally stratified" so that water drawn off from the top is always the hottest and even after 90% of the hot water is used up, the delivered water is still at full temperature. Storage electric water heaters also allow "off-peak" electricity to be used--more about this in a future column.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-gif" alt="image/gif icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/ccp_tankless_water_heater_0.gif" type="image/gif; length=109259">ccp_tankless_water_heater_0.gif</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/storage-vs-tankless-water-heaters" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/storage-vs-tankless-water-heaters#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2009 19:49:00 +0000 Web Master 11816 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Saving Energy by Saving Water http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-energy-saving-water <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//water.jpg" /></div> <p>Whenever we reduce water use, we also save energy. In fact, several of the most cost-effective energy saving strategies -- projects with the quickest "payback" -- are water conservation improvements that reduce hot water use. I'll cover some of these strategies here, but first I want to explain why even reducing our cold water use saves energy.</p> <p>If you have your own water system with a deep-well pump and pressure tank, the less water you use, the less electricity you will consume pumping that water out of the ground and pressurizing your water tank. The deeper the well, the more energy is needed. In some houses with really deep wells and large water demand, this is one of the three or four largest energy users in the home.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/water_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=15533">water_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-energy-saving-water" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/saving-energy-saving-water#comments Mon, 25 May 2009 19:52:00 +0000 Web Master 11782 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Dishwashers http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/dishwashers <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//dishwasher.jpg" /></div> <p>It often surprises people to learn that with today's water-conserving dishwashers and typical practices for hand-washing, properly filled automated dishwashers use less water and energy. If you wash dishes by hand and leave the water running when washing or rinsing, hand-washing almost certainly uses more water. Even if you try to be miserly and use plastic tubs for wash water and rinse water, you may well be using more than the most efficient of today's dishwashers, a few of which use less than four gallons for a full wash and rinse cycle.</p> <p>About 60% of the energy used by dishwashers is to heat the water--both by the water heater in your house and through an integrated booster heater in the dishwasher. That booster heater takes the incoming hot water, say at 120 degrees F, and boosts the temperature to about 140 degrees. Dishwasher detergents need such hot water to work most effectively, and the high temperature also aids drying of dishes. Most of the other energy used in dishwashers is to operate pumps and dry dishes at the end of the final rinse cycle. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/dishwasher_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=14419">dishwasher_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/dishwashers" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/dishwashers#comments Sun, 17 May 2009 20:00:00 +0000 Web Master 11788 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Buying a New Refrigerator http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/buying-new-refrigerator <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//CBF_front_entrance(2)_LoRes.jpg" /></div> <p>In a typical home, the refrigerator accounts for about 8% of the total annual energy expense, according to 2005 data from the U.S. Department of Energy. While this energy consumption for food storage is significant, it's far less than it was a few decades ago. In the mid-1970s, an average new refrigerator used about 1,800 kilowatt-hours (<abbr title="A kilowatt-hour is a unit of work or energy, measured as 1 kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power expended for 1 hour. One kWh is equivalent to 3,412 Btu."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2429">kWh</a></abbr>) per year, making it the single most expensive energy load in many homes. </p> <p>Today, even though refrigerators are significantly larger than in the mid-70s, the energy use has dropped dramatically, due to more efficient compressors, improved insulation, and other features. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/CBF_front_entrance%25282%2529_LoRes_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=316430">CBF_front_entrance%282%29_LoRes_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/buying-new-refrigerator" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/buying-new-refrigerator#comments Mon, 11 May 2009 20:03:00 +0000 Web Master 11791 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Measuring Electricity Use http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/measuring-electricity-use <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//killawatt.jpg" /><em>The Kill-A-Watt meter by P3 International Corporation.</em></div> <p>I get a lot of questions about energy. Electricity consumption factors into many of them. Why are electric bills so high? How can I tell when it's time to replace a refrigerator? Most of us have electric meters on our houses, but these measure your total household electricity use. To figure out what accounts for that overall figure, you need to measure the consumption of individual appliances and pieces of equipment. A really useful gadget for figuring out these sorts of questions is an electricity monitor.</p> <p>You plug one of these into a wall outlet, and then plug the device whose electrical consumption you're trying to measure into it. You can measure the instantaneous electrical consumption (wattage) and also the cumulative consumption over time in kilowatt-hours (<abbr title="A kilowatt-hour is a unit of work or energy, measured as 1 kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power expended for 1 hour. One kWh is equivalent to 3,412 Btu."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2429">kWh</a></abbr>). It's a great way to figure out how much power your refrigerator is really using, whether your television set consumes electricity even when it's "turned off," and just how much electricity your pellet stove needs to power its fans (mine uses a maximum of about 320 watts, and during the winter consumes about 0.7 kWh per day). </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/killawatt_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=5219">killawatt_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/measuring-electricity-use" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/measuring-electricity-use#comments Mon, 04 May 2009 20:06:00 +0000 Web Master 11795 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Efficient Cooking http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/efficient-cooking <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img div /><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//electric-range.jpg" /><em>Electric ranges may actually be more efficient than gas ranges.</em> </p><p>Which is better: a gas or electric range? Most serious cooks prefer gas, because it delivers heat instantly and is highly controllable. With typical electric cooktops, it takes longer for the burner to respond when turned on and when the setting is adjusted.</p> <p>I used to be in the gas cooking camp. But I switched to electric nearly 20 years ago when my two daughters were very young, and I've been surprised at how satisfactory the electric cooking has been. My decision was fueled by studies I read back in the 1980s about possible long-term impacts of breathing gas combustion products in homes, particularly by children. Concerns include asthma, other respiratory ailments, and even (some studies suggested) effects on mental development and intelligence. So I've opted for an electric range for health reasons. But how does the energy performance compare? It's actually quite interesting--at least for energy geeks!</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/electric-range_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=24023">electric-range_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/efficient-cooking" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/efficient-cooking#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2009 20:09:00 +0000 Web Master 11767 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Efficient Cooking http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/efficient-cooking-0 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <p><img div /><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//electric-range.jpg" /><em>Electric ranges may actually be more efficient than gas ranges.</em> </p><p>Which is better: a gas or electric range? Most serious cooks prefer gas, because it delivers heat instantly and is highly controllable. With typical electric cooktops, it takes longer for the burner to respond when turned on and when the setting is adjusted.</p> <p>I used to be in the gas cooking camp. But I switched to electric nearly 20 years ago when my two daughters were very young, and I've been surprised at how satisfactory the electric cooking has been. My decision was fueled by studies I read back in the 1980s about possible long-term impacts of breathing gas combustion products in homes, particularly by children. Concerns include asthma, other respiratory ailments, and even (some studies suggested) effects on mental development and intelligence. So I've opted for an electric range for health reasons. But how does the energy performance compare? It's actually quite interesting--at least for energy geeks!</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/electric-range_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=24023">electric-range_1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/efficient-cooking-0" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/efficient-cooking-0#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2009 20:09:00 +0000 Web Master 11768 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Air-Source Heat Pumps http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/air-source-heat-pumps <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//276.jpg" /><em>The Hallowell Acadia <abbr title="A type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2404">heat pump</a></abbr> can operate at temperatures below 0 degrees and still perform significantly better than electric-resistance heat.</em></div> <p><a href="http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/ground-source-heat-pumps">Last week's column</a> looked at efficient but also very expensive ground-source heat pumps; this week we'll look at a less expensive option that's becoming more common even in our climate: air-source heat pumps. Traditionally, air-source heat pumps have been an option mainly for more southern climates, because they have to extract heat from the outside air, and when it's cold out their performance drops significantly.</p> <p>However, a few things have changed. One is a relatively new type of air-source heat pump that's optimized for cold climates. The Hallowell Acadia cold-climate heat pump, manufactured in Maine, is an advanced, two-stage heat pump. This feature both allows the unit to work at much colder temperatures than conventional air-source heat pumps, and it boosts the efficiency--referred to as "coefficient of performance" with heat pumps.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/276_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=14746">276_1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/air-source-heat-pumps" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/air-source-heat-pumps#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2009 20:14:00 +0000 Web Master 11769 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Ground-Source Heat Pumps http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ground-source-heat-pumps <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//276_0.jpg" /><em>The ClimateMaster ground-source <abbr title="A type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2404">heat pump</a></abbr> is recognized by the GreenSpec directory as a green product.</em></div> <p><a href="http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/introducing-heat-pumps">Last week</a> I introduced heat pumps and described how they can deliver more heat than is contained in the electricity they consume--while being able to provide cooling as well as heating. I mentioned two different types of heat pumps: air-source and ground-source. This week I'll cover ground-source (also known as "geothermal" and "geo-exchange") heat pumps.</p> <p>All heat pumps rely on a "heat source" during the winter months and a "heat sink" in the summer where unwanted heat can be dumped. While air-source heat pumps use the outside air as the heat source and heat sink, ground-source heat pumps use the ground, or sometimes a body of water, for these functions.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/276_0_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=7511">276_0_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ground-source-heat-pumps" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/ground-source-heat-pumps#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2009 20:16:00 +0000 Web Master 11773 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Introducing Heat Pumps http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/introducing-heat-pumps <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-8_0.jpg" /><em>An air-source <abbr title="A type of heating and/or cooling equipment that draws heat into a building from outside and, during the cooling season, ejects heat from the building to the outside. Heat pumps are vapor-compression refrigeration systems whose indoor/outdoor coils are used reversibly as condensers or evaporators, depending on the need for heating or cooling. In the 2003 CBECS, specific information was collected on whether the heat pump system was a packaged unit, residential-type split system, or individual room heat pump, and whether the heat pump was air source, ground source, or water source."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2404">heat pump</a></abbr> is like a window air conditioner:<br /> Running one way, it cools, running the other, it heats. When outside air is cold enough, electric resistance heaters kick in. Most air source heat pumps work better in moderate climates than cold ones, although there are specialized models for cold areas.</em></div> <p>I used to think that electric heating should be avoided at all cost. After all, most of our electricity is produced from highly polluting and greenhouse-gas- spewing coal power plants or from nuclear power plants with their own, quite different, risks. I bought in to physicist Amory Lovin's argument that heating buildings with electricity was like "cutting butter with a chainsaw." It just didn't make sense, Amory said, to use such a high-grade and versatile form of energy to provide something as crude as heat.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-8_0_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=26815">Untitled-8_0_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/introducing-heat-pumps" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/introducing-heat-pumps#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2009 20:19:00 +0000 Web Master 11777 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Radiant-Floor Heating http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/radiant-floor-heating <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-3_1.jpg" /></div> <p>Occasionally I wonder if I have some sort of masochistic streak--somehow enjoying the grief I get when bursting people's favorite bubbles. I'll brace myself for such a response to this column, when I point out why radiant-floor heating systems don't make sense for new, energy-efficient houses.</p> <p>Radiant-floor heating is a way of delivering heat through the floor--usually with hot-water tubing embedded in a concrete slab. It's a very popular heating system advanced by zealous proponents. If you want to pick a fight in the building industry, simply criticize such sacred cows as radiant-floor heating or ground-source heat pumps (stay tuned on that one).</p> <p>Don't get me wrong. Radiant-floor heating makes a lot of sense for the right applications. In fact, I think it's a great heating system...for lousy houses. But with new construction, if the house is designed and built to be highly energy-efficient (something I always encourage as the number-one priority), it doesn't make sense.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-3_1_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=25767">Untitled-3_1_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/radiant-floor-heating" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/radiant-floor-heating#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2009 20:22:00 +0000 Web Master 11745 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Using Thermostats http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/using-thermostats <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-4.jpg" /></div> <p>I get a lot of questions about energy--from relatives, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. I think the most common question is about thermostats and whether it makes sense to lower the temperature of your house at night or when you aren't home. </p> <p>"Doesn't it take more energy to warm the house back up," some ask? </p> <p>"Do setback or programmable thermostats really save energy?"</p> <p>Yes, these thermostats can--and usually do--save energy, lots of it. But simply having such a thermostat isn't enough; you have to know how to use it. Here, I'll be referring to the heating season, though these ideas also apply to the cooling season for those who have central air conditioning.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-4_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=18050">Untitled-4_1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/using-thermostats" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/using-thermostats#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2009 20:25:00 +0000 Web Master 11747 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Understanding Pellet Stoves http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/understanding-pellet-stoves <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//3900_xxvroom590b.jpg" /></div> <p>I resisted buying a pellet stove for a long time for a number of reasons. First, I would be tied to a fuel source that I don't have control over--and whose price might go up if demand exceeds supply.</p> <p>Second, pellet stoves don't work without electricity, and I didn't want to risk freezing pipes in the event of a power outage. Third, I don't really like the noise of the fan and the blowtorch-like flame. Fourth, I had heard about technical problems with early pellet stoves. And fifth, good pellet stoves cost a lot.</p> <p>While most of these concerns still apply, I went ahead a bought a pellet stove last summer.</p> <p>Here's why.</p> <p>Unlike wood stoves, today's advanced, thermostatically controlled, auto-igniting pellet stoves operate with very little intervention. Stacking firewood, bringing armfuls in from the woodshed every few days, and dealing with the mess aren't required (though you still have to deal with bags of pellets--more on that below). So a pellet stove can operate more like an oil or gas heating system--by simply setting the thermostat. Pellet stove also generate much less pollution than wood stoves, which is important to me.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/3900_xxvroom590b_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=114388">3900_xxvroom590b_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/understanding-pellet-stoves" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/understanding-pellet-stoves#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2009 20:31:00 +0000 Web Master 11753 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Outdoor Wood Boilers http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/outdoor-wood-boilers <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-7_0.jpg" /><em>Outdoor wood boilers typically look like a small utility building with a smoke stack.</em></div> <p>Over the past few weeks, we've been looking at wood burning--a popular and affordable heating option in rural New England. Ten or 15 years ago, a new option started showing up. Driving along country roads, we began to see shed-like structures with smoke billowing from smokestacks. These are outdoor wood boilers (sometimes called outdoor wood furnaces), and they have been the focus of considerable attention and debate in recent years, mostly over the pollution they generate.</p> <p>A traditional outdoor wood boiler has a large firebox surrounded by a water jacket in which up to a few hundred gallons of water are heated. This hot water is piped into the house through a buried insulated pipe, and it heats the house either with a fairly conventional baseboard hot water (hydronic) system or a "fan coil" and forced-air distribution system.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-7_0_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=16833">Untitled-7_0_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/outdoor-wood-boilers" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/outdoor-wood-boilers#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2009 20:33:00 +0000 Web Master 11757 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Cleaner and More Efficient Wood Burning http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cleaner-and-more-efficient-wood-burning <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//space_heating_wood_stove_1_h176mb_2484.jpg" /><em>A CENTRALLY LOCATED WOOD STOVE and an open floor plan work together to heat this well insulated home. Tending a stove is not as convenient as turning up the thermostat, so homeowners have to be willing to do the extra work. On the right site, a well managed woodlot could provide a perpetual source of fuel that costs no more than the labor to cut and stack it.</em></div> <p>Wood is a renewable fuel and, assuming that new trees grow up to replace those cut for firewood, it is carbon-neutral, meaning that it doesn't have a net contribution to global warming. That said, wood burning also churns out a lot of air pollutants, some of which are highly visible as smoke. Fortunately, there's a lot we can do to reduce the pollution generated by wood burning--and boost the efficiency.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/space_heating_wood_stove_1_h176mb_2484_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=567689">space_heating_wood_stove_1_h176mb_2484_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cleaner-and-more-efficient-wood-burning" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/cleaner-and-more-efficient-wood-burning#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2009 21:36:00 +0000 Web Master 11762 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Heating With Wood http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-wood <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-9_0.jpg" /><em>The Jøtul F 100 Nordic QT wood burning stove.</em></div> <p>In the 27 years that I've owned my house in West Dummerston, Vermont, I've always used wood heat to some extent. But my commitment to it has ebbed and flowed. For about the first 15 years, I heated the house almost exclusively with wood. Built in 1785, the house had electric heat when I bought it, but with my work focused on energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, I couldn't bring myself to use electricity for heating, because so much energy is wasted during power generation.</p> <p>A Vermont Castings Resolute wood stove was one of my first purchases when I bought the house in 1981. To save money, I picked up the stove at Vermont Castings' factory in Randolph in my little Datsun pickup. I also tried to save money by installing it myself with galvanized stovepipe going up through the old, unlined chimney. (Not too many years later, after that stovepipe began rusting out, I had Friends of the Sun do a proper installation with stainless steel.) </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-9_0_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=10664">Untitled-9_0_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-wood" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/heating-wood#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2009 21:39:00 +0000 Web Master 11727 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Wind Power Today and in the Future http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/wind-power-today-and-future <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//vermont_wind_turbine.jpg" /><em>Turbines in Mount Equinox, Vermont.</em></div> <p><a href="/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/answer-blowing-wind">Last week</a> we reviewed the history of wind energy, including its use for pumping water and generating power. This week we'll take at look at the state of the art with wind power and what's ahead.</p> <p>The growth of wind power over the past decade has been nothing short of spectacular. In ten years, from 1998 to 2008, installed world wind energy capacity increased more than 12-fold, from 9,700 megawatts (MW) to 121,000 MW, according to the World Wind Energy Association. During the same period, U.S. wind power capacity increased nearly 13-fold, from 1,946 to 25,170 MW. Having been the world leader in wind power until 1997, the U.S. lost that position to Germany for the next ten years, but recaptured the world leadership in 2008, with a remarkable 49.7% increase in capacity over 2007. This is still just a tiny percentage of our total power generation, but it's increasing faster than other energy source.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/vermont_wind_turbine_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=29819">vermont_wind_turbine_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/wind-power-today-and-future" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/wind-power-today-and-future#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2009 21:41:00 +0000 Web Master 11736 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com The Answer is Blowing in the Wind http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/answer-blowing-wind <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Wind_powered_VT_home_turbine_install.jpg" /><em>NOT FOR EVERY SITE. Wind power doesn't make sense everywhere. Fortunately this site is consistently breezy enough to generate the 6,000 <abbr title="A kilowatt-hour is a unit of work or energy, measured as 1 kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power expended for 1 hour. One kWh is equivalent to 3,412 Btu."><a class="glossary-term" href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/glossary/6#term2429">kWh</a></abbr> of electricity that David Pill's family demands each year. Here, a gin pole -- an old-fashioned but effective winch-and-mast system -- is used to hoist the wind turbine into position.</em></div> <p>Over the past few weeks, we've looked at a few power-generation technologies: pumped hydro, landfill gas, and nuclear. This week, we'll examine another option that's been in the news a lot over the past few years: wind power.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Wind_powered_VT_home_turbine_install_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=445301">Wind_powered_VT_home_turbine_install_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/answer-blowing-wind" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/answer-blowing-wind#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2009 21:57:00 +0000 Web Master 11738 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Thoughts on Nuclear Power http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/thoughts-nuclear-power <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-12.jpg" /><em>The reactor at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vermont..</em></div> <p>Continuing in the recent thread of examining various power generation technologies, this week I'll weigh in on nuclear power. I do this against my wife's better judgment, and perhaps out of concern that my columns haven't been generating enough controversy.</p> <p>Let me start with the bottom line--that I am generally opposed to nuclear power, and I do not support the relicensing of Vermont Yankee beyond 2012. But some of my thoughts on both the benefits and concerns about nuclear power differ considerably from the standard no-nukes arguments.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-12_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=28170">Untitled-12_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/thoughts-nuclear-power" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/thoughts-nuclear-power#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2009 14:11:00 +0000 Web Master 11706 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Thoughts on Nuclear Power http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/thoughts-nuclear-power-0 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-12.jpg" /><em>The reactor at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vermont..</em></div> <p>Continuing in the recent thread of examining various power generation technologies, this week I'll weigh in on nuclear power. I do this against my wife's better judgment, and perhaps out of concern that my columns haven't been generating enough controversy.</p> <p>Let me start with the bottom line--that I am generally opposed to nuclear power, and I do not support the relicensing of Vermont Yankee beyond 2012. But some of my thoughts on both the benefits and concerns about nuclear power differ considerably from the standard no-nukes arguments.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-12_1.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=28170">Untitled-12_1.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/thoughts-nuclear-power-0" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/thoughts-nuclear-power-0#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2009 14:11:00 +0000 Web Master 11707 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Pumped Hydro Power Storage http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/pumped-hydro-power-storage <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div id="body_text"> <p>Last weekend, looking for someplace new to explore, my wife and I drove down to Northfield, Massachusetts, to check out the cross-country ski center. The skiing was great, and it occurred to me that readers of this column might be interested in learning about the pumped-hydro power plant on the mountain--the ski center was created as a recreational amenity for this power project.</p> <p>When the Northfield Mountain pumped-hydro power station was built in 1972, it was the largest facility of its type in the world. To understand why the plant is so significant, it helps to understand one of the problems with an electrical power grid: storage. </p> <p>Electricity is generated by power plants, and the electric current (made up of electrons) flows through a massive current loop--our electrical grid. We tap into this grid to operate our lights and appliances, to heat our houses, and (someday) even to charge our plug-in hybrid cars. </p> <p>The problem is that electricity is very hard to store. It takes a long time to start up and shut down power plants, so utility companies have to keep those plants operating even when there's more power being produced than is being used--thus wasting a lot of electricity. This is where pumped storage comes in.</p> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/pumped-hydro-power-storage" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/pumped-hydro-power-storage#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2009 14:40:00 +0000 Web Master 11718 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com An Overview of HID Lighting http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/overview-hid-lighting <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-2_2.jpg" /><em>HID lighting at Fenway Park in Boston.</em></div> <p>Three recent columns provided a brief history of lighting, an overview of fluorescent technology, and a look at the challenges of improving streetlights. Following a side trip into the issue of "<a href="http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/energy-solutions/making-houses-resilient-power-outages">passive survivability</a>," I'm returning this week to illumination with an overview of high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting.</p> <p>HID lighting involves creating an arc of electricity in a sealed bulb containing mercury vapor and other gases. One of the advantages of HID lighting is long lamp life--which is important in outdoor and hard-to-reach indoor applications. Another advantage is the potential for very high light output from a concentrated light source--useful in illuminating Fenway Park, for example. All HID lamps require a ballast to produce the proper electric current to start and then maintain the electric arc. Because of this ballast, most HID lamps take several minutes to turn on (referred to as restrike delay)--which is one of their drawbacks.</p> <p>There are four basic types of HID lighting:</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-2_2_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=25002">Untitled-2_2_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/overview-hid-lighting" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/overview-hid-lighting#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2008 14:58:00 +0000 Web Master 11690 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Making Houses Resilient to Power Outages http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-houses-resilient-power-outages <div class="field field-type-text field-field-bg-blog-author-name"> <div class="field-label">Author name:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alex Wilson </div> </div> </div> <div><img src="http://www.buildinggreen.com/live/images//Untitled-1_3.jpg" /><em>Some homes in New Orleans were without power for months as a result of hurricane Katrina in 2005.</em></div> <p>The ice storm a week-and-a-half ago illustrated, all too clearly, the vulnerability of our homes. Hundreds of thousands of homes in New England lost power in the storm, which deposited up to an inch of ice on trees the night of December 11th, and tens of thousands were still without power a full week later, despite heroic efforts by utility crews. This illustrates why all houses should be designed and built to achieve "passive survivability," an idea that, nationally, I've been advancing for the past three years.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-bg-blog-image"> <div class="field-label">Images:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="filefield-file clear-block"><img class="filefield-icon field-icon-image-jpeg" alt="image/jpeg icon" src="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/sites/all/modules/filefield/icons/image-x-generic.png" /><a href="/sites/buildinggreen.com/files/live/Untitled-1_3_0.jpg" type="image/jpeg; length=34984">Untitled-1_3_0.jpg</a></div> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-houses-resilient-power-outages" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Energy Solutions http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/making-houses-resilient-power-outages#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2008 15:00:00 +0000 Web Master 11693 at http://www2.buildinggreen.com Mercury Vapor Lighting http://www2.buildinggreen.com/blogs/mercu