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Green Building Advisor Blogs



Green home building news and views from experts in the field.



 



Sill Pans for Exterior Doors

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 12:17:02 +0000

Prime: 
prime
Subtitle: 
Flashing the rough openings of exterior doors isn’t just a good idea; it’s a code requirement

Most residential builders understand that window rough openings need sill pan flashing — either a site-built sill pan made with peel-and-stick tape, or a commercial sill pan made from metal or plastic. Window manufacturers’ installation instructions began requiring sill pans about 20 years ago, and by now these details are standard at most residential construction sites.

For some reason, though, many builders are neglecting to install sill pans under exterior doors. It's time for a gentle reminder: If you skip the sill pan under an exterior door, you are risking a very expensive callback.

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South Australia Plugs in World’s Largest Battery

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 09:28:42 +0000

Subtitle: 
Tesla’s installation is designed to ease grid overloads during periods of high demand
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The world's largest lithium ion battery is up and running in South Australia where officials hope it will help reduce power shortages during blistering summer weather that lies ahead.

The state government announced last week that the football-field-sized battery has been installed at the Hornsdale Power Reserve, where it will store energy generated at an adjacent wind farm. According to a statement from South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill, the battery is "history in the making" and will ensure that the state has backup power to get it through the summer.

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Solar Power Alone Won’t Solve Energy or Climate Needs

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 12:17:15 +0000

Subtitle: 
For the same installed capacity, nuclear facilities produce eight to nine times as much electricity as solar facilities
Images: 

Recent reports that solar capacity will soon exceed nuclear capacity reveal an important fact. It also hides a crucial distinction needed to understand the context of energy production, and the use and consequences of choices among supply options for the future.

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How Does a Heat Pump Get Heat From Cold Air?

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 12:01:10 +0000

Prime: 
prime
Subtitle: 
The physics of heat pumps isn’t really that difficult to understand
Images: 

Cold weather is coming back to Atlanta this week, so let’s talk about heat. An increasingly popular way to heat buildings these days is with heat pumps, even in cold climates. But how do they work?

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Urban Rustic: Air Sealing the Attic Floor

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 12:05:13 +0000

Subtitle: 
After considering Zip sheathing for the ceiling air barrier, we settled on the Intello membrane instead

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. The first blog in his series was called An Introduction to a New Passive House Project; a list of Eric's previous posts appears below. For more details, see Eric's blog, Kimchi & Kraut.

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Chinese Decree Alters Recycling Picture

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 11:42:32 +0000

Subtitle: 
A campaign targeting ‘foreign garbage’ will have far-reaching effects on the recycling industry
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Recycling plastic, paper, and metal is fundamental to a sustainable lifestyle, and for years China has given U.S. consumers a helping hand by accepting millions of tons of waste plastic every year. That practice is about to end.

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Why Solar Microgrids Are Not a Cure-All for Puerto Rico’s Power Woes

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 12:12:40 +0000

Subtitle: 
Even if the substantial costs are not a consideration, distributed systems aren’t a substitute for the grid
Images: 

By PETER FOX-PENNER

In addition to its many other devastating human consequences, Hurricane Maria left the island of Puerto Rico with its power grid in ruins. Power was knocked out throughout the island, with an estimated 80% of its transmission and distribution wires incapacitated. When hospitals and other critical users could not get backup power and water supplies ran low, an extended outage became a humanitarian crisis that has yet to be resolved.

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A New Multifamily Will Put Passive House Performance to the Test

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 17:05:59 +0000

Subtitle: 
Half the Minneapolis building will be built to code, the other half to the Passive House standard
Images: 

A planned multifamily project in Minneapolis will give designers a chance to see just how much of a difference 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. construction makes when it comes to energy consumption, if not tenant comfort.

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Lumber from a Bandsaw Mill

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 12:18:50 +0000

Prime:  prime Subtitle:  This simple piece of equipment turns logs into building materials Images:  Let’s say that you own a piece of land and you want to build a house. If you live in a forested region, the first step is to cut down enough trees to create the needed open space for your foundation, lawn, and driveway. As you’re cutting down the trees, you may think to yourself, “I’m going to need to buy lumber to build my house. I wonder if these logs can be milled into 2x6s and 2x10s.” The answer is: they probably can. read more[...]



Extending the Reach of a Moisture Meter

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:16:59 +0000

Subtitle:  Simple ways to measure moisture content deeper into building assemblies Images:  Typical pins on moisture meters are ½ inch long, meaning you can only determine moisture content by weight near the surface of building assemblies and materials (including wood, gypsum wallboard, and concrete). But I often find myself needing to assess moisture content of first condensing surfaces in walls and ceilings or well below the surface of basement slabs. This article looks at ways to extend the reach of a moisture meter. (For introductory information on moisture meters, see Tools of the Trade: Moisture Meters.) read more[...]