Editor's Note: This is one of a series of blogs by David Goodyear describing the construction of his new home in Flatrock, Newfoundland, the first in the province built to the Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. standard. The first installment of the GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com blog series was titled An Introduction to the Flatrock Passive House. For a list of Goodyear's earlier blogs on this site, see the "Related Articles" sidebar below; you'll find his complete blog here.
Donald Wulfinghoff is an energy consultant who works in Maryland. In 2015, he published Super House, a 700-page book that explains how an ordinary person without architectural training can design a superinsulated home that (he claims) will use only 10% to 20% as much energy for heating and cooling as a conventional home.
Today, most of the world's air conditioners are concentrated in a handful of affluent countries, but a sharp increase in demand will triple the amount of energy used for space cooling by 2050 and require new generating capacity equal to what's produced in the U.S., Japan, and the European Union today.
Every so often an environmentally friendly building gives us a glimpse of the low-carbon future so many climate plans envision. With the development of Clichy-Batignolles, the city of Paris has created a groundbreaking eco-village filled with such buildings. Begun in 2002, the massive redevelopment project is about 30% complete and is slated to be finished in 2020.
It's getting hot out there. Here in the Southeast, we love our air conditioning. In fact, without air conditioning, far fewer people would live in places like Houston, Hattiesburg, and Sopchoppy. And that's true for the hot, dry places, too, like Phoenix, El Paso, and Boron.
So if we're going to have air conditioning in our homes, we want it to work. It should be effective and efficient. It should keep us cool without creating new problems, such as excessive noise, bad indoor air quality, or comfort that varies from room to room.
Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) have developed a new type of triple glazingWhen referring to windows or doors, the transparent or translucent layer that transmits light. High-performance glazing may include multiple layers of glass or plastic, low-e coatings, and low-conductivity gas fill. for windows that is about the same thickness and weight as a standard low-eLow-emissivity coating. Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that permits most of the sun’s short-wave (light) radiation to enter, while blocking up to 90% of the long-wave (heat) radiation. Low-e coatings boost a window’s R-value and reduce its U-factor. double-glazed window but comes with twice the insulating value.
Editor's note: This is one in a series of blogs detailing the construction of a net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. house in Point Roberts, Washington, by an owner/builder with relatively little building experience. You'll find Matt Bath's full blog, Saving Sustainably, here. If you want to follow project costs, you can keep an eye on a budget worksheet here.
Will Welch has chosen to build his high-performance house in Nederland, Colorado. The site is at the border of Climate Zones 6 and 7, and it poses some challenges: it's at an elevation of 8,600 feet; the area gets a generous amount of snow and wind; and the number of heating degree days tops 8,800 a year.
But Welch has one more concern: the threat of wildfires.
Thousands of Connecticut residents whose homes are threatened by failing concrete foundations got some encouragement this week with the visit of U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who expressed hope that federal assistance might be possible.
As many as 34,000 homes in eastern and north central Connecticut could be at risk because aggregate used in the concrete contained a pyrrhotite, a mineral that in time causes the concrete to crack and degrade. Homeowners face bills of as much as $200,000 to repair the damage, and until now help has been slow in coming.
Many Americans live in areas of the country where the local utility sponsors energy efficiency programs — for example, one that offers homeowners free energy audits. In addition to offering this type of residential efficiency program, many utilities have also developed energy efficiency programs to help commercial customers, including retailers and manufacturers.
More California rooftops will soon sport solar panels, partly due to a new state mandate requiring them for all new houses and low-rise residential buildings by 2020.
This rule immediately sparked lively debates. Even experts who generally advocate for solar energy expressed skepticism that it was actually a good idea.
Editor's note: This post is one of a series by Eric Whetzel about the design and construction of his house in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. A list of Eric's previous posts appears below. For more details, see Eric's blog, Kimchi & Kraut.
This post originally appeared at Yale Environment 360.
Last month's flooding of the historic downtown in Ellicott City, Maryland, sent a torrent of brown water down Main Street, erasing millions of dollars in reconstruction carried out after a similar incident just two years ago.
Editor's Note: This post is one of a series by Chris Stratton and Wen Lee, a husband-and-wife team living in the Los Angeles area who are turning their suburban house into an all-electric, zero-net energy home. They chronicle their attempts at a low-carbon, low-cost, and joyful lifestyle on their blog Frugal Happy. This post was written by Chris.
Readers often post a simple question on our Q&A page: “What brand of window should I buy?” For an editor, it’s an exasperating question, because it’s unanswerable. The answer depends on a host of factors, including the buyer’s geographical location, performance expectations, budget, and personal sense of aesthetics.
Rather than attempting to answer the question, I decided to interview fourteen designers and builders of high-performance homes. I asked them, “What brand of window did you specify on recent high-performance projects — and why?”
A sweeping plan passed by Denver voters last fall to require green roofs on large buildings is headed for a rewrite.
The Denver Post reports that a task force representing a variety of city interests has proposed a number of changes in the citizen initiative that would allow more flexibility and lower costs.
Think of a net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. (NZE) home, and it’s likely that you imagine a single-family house in a well-to-do neighborhood, with a roof covered in solar panels and an electric car parked in the driveway. This is a pleasant picture, but it highlights two underlying assumptions many of us have: that NZE homes are available only to the wealthy, and that new-build, single-family homes in nonurban settings are best suited for NZE.
Botched details in a two-year refurbishment of a London high-rise turned what had been a safe concrete tower into a "tinderbox" that contributed to the deaths of 72 tenants, a British newspaper reports.