Guest Blogs

Inefficient Hot Water Piping Layouts Waste Hot Water

Posted on September 25, 2012 by Gary Klein

What is the key to an efficient piping layout for domestic hot water? The answer is to keep the volume of hot water between the water heater and the tap as small as possible. The difficulty is that most buildings have only one source of hot water and the many uses are spread throughout the floor plan.

Getting Into Hot Water — Part 2

Posted on September 18, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum

In my last blog, I discussed the basics of our domestic hot water (DHW) load, and looked briefly at adding a solar hot water system to satisfy most of that load. What I decided to do first was to try a heat-pump water heaterAn appliance that uses an air-source heat pump to heat domestic hot water. Most heat-pump water heaters include an insulated tank equipped with an electric resistance element to provide backup heat whenever hot water demand exceeds the capacity of the heat pump. Since heat-pump water heaters extract heat from the air, they lower the temperature and humidity of the room in which they are installed. (HPWH), partly because it was a much simpler and less costly installation, and partly because I was just curious to see how well one would work.

Looking Through Windows — Part 4

Posted on September 17, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the eighth article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

We have been comparing two window options for EdgewaterHaus: German-manufactured , and Canadian-made windows from . I’ll talk about Thermotech in this blog; a previous blog discussed our impressions of the Unilux windows.

Getting into Hot Water — Part 1

Posted on September 12, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum

Dick and Tim Mavro, with the help of a large friend of Tim's named Justin, came and took our oil heating system away. I was glad to see the truck drive off with all that equipment on the trailer. Now I have to find a home for the Vermont Castings gas heater, and then we'll be fossil-fuel-free, at least as far as site energy is concerned.

Tips from a Commercial Demolition Company

Posted on September 11, 2012 by J.D. Elder

The demolition of a building is a carefully orchestrated, thoroughly researched affair. Demolition contractors must be conscientious about both employee safety and environmental safety, or else risk losing their business licenses. Just like general contractors, demolition experts are required to follow OSHA standards for employee safety. And demolition firms must also abide by EPA standards guiding environmentally safe deconstruction techniques. Hazardous construction materials, such as asbestosMineral fiber once commonly used in many building materials, including insulation, fireproof siding, and resilient flooring. Inhalation of invisible asbestos fibers can lead to chest and abdominal cancers as well as scarring of the lungs. The use of asbestos in some products has been banned by the EPA and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission; manufacturers also have adopted voluntary limitations on its use. When found in older buildings (most commonly in floor tiles, pipe and furnace insulation, or asbestos shingles), the product's friability is a major determinant in how it must be handled during renovations. More information: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/asbestos.html, must be safely removed before a building can be demolished.

Looking Through Windows — Part 3

Posted on September 4, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the seventh article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

Woe are we with windows!

We started seriously exploring window options in June. Two months later, we are STILL hung-up on windows.

Most people who build new homes go look at window samples in few building supply stores, check the features, open and close the display units, get a price, and quickly decide, “Let’s go with this one.”

Basement Insulation — Part 2

Posted on September 3, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum

In Part 1 of this blog series, I mentioned that I had to move a number of infrastructure items away from the concrete walls so I could have an unbroken insulation installation. In retrospect, it was a good idea to move them, and the time it took was at least partially compensated for by not needing to take time to fit the foam around the obstacles.

They were:

Basement Insulation — Part 1

Posted on August 29, 2012 by Marc Rosenbaum

A common truism (that isn't) is “heat rises.” Actually, what rises is air that is warmer than the surrounding air. Anyone who has lived with a wood stove knows this — it's a lot hotter at the ceiling in the room with the stove than it is at the floor. But heat flows from hot to cold, so it readily goes from our houses down into whatever connection they have with the ground, because the ground is cooler than the temperature most of us like our homes to be at.

Looking Through Windows — Part 2

Posted on August 28, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the sixth article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

Looking Through Windows — Part 1

Posted on August 21, 2012 by Roger Normand

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a Passivhaus in Maine. This is the fifth article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

When we first began looking at windows for our Passivhaus project, we started with a list of 15 window manufacturers. We whittled the list down to two: Schüco, which on paper looked like the best European-style window, and Pella, the best North American style window.

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