Guest Blogs

Essential Energy-Audit Equipment

Posted on July 3, 2012 by Erik North

I thought I’d put together a list of all of the tools and equipment I use during an . Not all of these tools are used during every audit, and some aren’t essential to investigating the house. I’ve separated the lists into two categories: essential items and useful items.

The Journal of Poor Homebuilding

Posted on June 11, 2012 by Erik North

I'm calling this collection of photos The Journal of Poor Homebuilding — kind of like Holmes on Homes, except that I won’t act like the previous contractors ought to be hunted down, predator-style.

I had some other ideas for naming it before settling on JoPH (though they are all the same basic joke): Energy Rearguard, Home Energy Amateurs, Journal of Light Destruction, or the Building Magic Corporation. (As a side note, I love the sites on which these parodies are based and highly recommend reading them).

Cold-Climate Passivhaus Construction Costs

Posted on June 4, 2012 by mike eliason

Despite all the fuss about on detached housing in über cold climates, there have been several projects recently that seemingly disprove the fussers.

How to Insulate and Air Seal an Attic Hatch

Posted on May 2, 2012 by Erik North

There’s a subset of issues in the realm of home efficiency that falls into the category “out of sight/out of mind.” The boiler in the basement, how much insulation is in the attic … as long as these issues stay out of your view, no problem. So what’s up with attic hatches, then?

Even though attic hatches can be huge air leaks and sources of radiant heat loss, they are rarely fixed. An attic hatch is usually located in a hallway or closet where the homeowners see it daily. Yet...

Lakesideca Haikus

Posted on April 30, 2012 by Andrea Lemon

My part-time employer, , recently celebrated the overlap of National Poetry Month and National Architecture Week with . I am not normally someone who writes poetry, but I quickly discovered that writing haiku was a great way to blow off years of accumulated steam from trying to build a 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..

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Posted on April 4, 2012 by Vera Novak

Is there a construction process which can deliver a value of ? This is the term being used by Worldwatch in preparation for the upcoming . It moves beyond the “do no further harm” approach of the original definition of sustainability (Brundtland report), and recognizes the need to actively restore the Earth’s systems to full health.

Design for Disassembly

Posted on March 19, 2012 by Vera Novak

In his seminal book designer William McDonough advocated that objects should be designed with the end in mind. This has been codified by the EU , which has improved upon the traditional , or co-mingled material.

Fiberglass versus Cellulose

Posted on March 5, 2012 by Erik North

The two least expensive and most commonly used residential insulation are fiberglass and cellulose. Granted, fiberglass is about 50 times more common — but a distant second is still second.

Unless the homeowner opts for spray foam, the insulation choice usually comes down to fiberglass vs. cellulose. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of each one? How are they similar and how are they different?

The Pretty Good House, Part 2

Posted on February 28, 2012 by Michael Maines

What is truly important when designing and building a green home? Some of the many existing programs don’t go far enough, some are accused of going too far, and some just miss the mark. What should be included in a Pretty Good House?

PHIUS PHlogging

Posted on February 8, 2012 by mike eliason

“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. is not a brand, it is a building concept which is open to all.” – Anton Kraler

I have to say, I completely agree with Kraler. I don’t view Passive House as a brand, but a concept that belongs to the greater built environment (Passivhaus is a greater good!). And as a concept, I find it very sound and worthwhile. So it was interesting to be forwarded the (I’m not making that up!).

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