Guest Blogs

Toronto Passive: Some Thoughts on Drainwater Heat Recovery

Posted on April 10, 2017 by Lyndon Than

Editor's Note: Lyndon Than is a professional engineer and Certified 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. Consultant who took a year off from work to design and build a home with his wife Phi in North York, a district of Toronto, Ontario. A list of Lyndon's previous blogs at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com appears in the sidebar below. For more, you can follow his blog, .

Does Green Energy Have Hidden Health and Environmental Costs?

Posted on April 6, 2017 by Anonymous

By EDGAR HERTWICH, ANDERS ARVESEN, SANGWON SUH, and THOMAS GIBON

There are a number of available low-carbon technologies to generate electricity. But are they really better than fossil fuels and nuclear power?

To answer that question, one needs to compare not just the emissions of different power sources but also the health benefits and the threats to ecosystems of green energy.

Why We Still Need to Discuss Grid Defection

Posted on April 5, 2017 by Anonymous

By JAMES MANDEL, MARK DYSON, and TODD ZERANSKI

The rapidly declining costs of distributed energy resources (DERs), including rooftop photovoltaics (PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.) and behind-the-meter batteries, have introduced new dynamics into a traditionally slow-moving electricity industry. This paradigm shift has ushered us into a new era where previous assumptions about how, where, and at what scale electricity is best generated, transmitted, and distributed may no longer hold.

Just Say No to (Swiss) Cheesy Attic Floors

Posted on April 4, 2017 by Greg Labbe

As the biting cold of winter hit the Great Lakes area last December, many building owners started to see signs of moisture damage on parts of their walls and ceilings. As we keep indoor temperatures consistent while the outdoor temperature drops, the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures (the ole’ Delta T, as they call it) becomes greater. This difference pushes indoor air upward; if there are leaks in the ceiling, the air goes up and out and into the cold attic space. That’s the stack effectAlso referred to as the chimney effect, this is one of three primary forces that drives air leakage in buildings. When warm air is in a column (such as a building), its buoyancy pulls colder air in low in buildings as the buoyant air exerts pressure to escape out the top. The pressure of stack effect is proportional to the height of the column of air and the temperature difference between the air in the column and ambient air. Stack effect is much stronger in cold climates during the heating season than in hot climates during the cooling season. — slightly less powerful than the force Darth Vader uses, but equally nefarious.

Airport House: Heating and Cooling

Posted on March 30, 2017 by Reid Baldwin

Editor’s note: This is one of a series of guest blogs by Reid Baldwin about the construction of his house in Linden, Michigan. You can read his entire blog .

What the Wall Street Journal Got Wrong About PACE

Posted on March 28, 2017 by Anonymous

This post originally appeared on the

Wolfe Island Passive: Heat Recovery Ventilation

Posted on March 27, 2017 by David Murakami Wood

Editor's note: David and Kayo Murakami Wood are building what they hope will be Ontario's first certified 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. on Wolfe Island, the largest of the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River. They are documenting their work at their blog, . For a list of earlier posts in this series, see the sidebar below.

Choosing and Installing Windows in the ProHOME

Posted on March 23, 2017 by Mike Guertin

Editor's note: This post originally was published as part of the at Fine Homebuilding magazine. , a former editor at FHB, leads it off with a discussion of how these windows were chosen, and FHB editorial advisor and builder picks it up with instructions on how to install the windows correctly.

Is There Lead in the Water of Your Lakesideca?

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Stuart Kaplow

Worries about lead leaching from pipes and faucets into drinking water are not new. But the broad growth of "green" buildings, including schools, that use water conservation strategies has the potential to lower the quality of drinking water in their plumbing systems.

To reduce water consumption, the latest version of LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Lakesideca Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. (LEED v4 New Construction) requires that indoor water use be reduced by 20%, and offers additional credits for reducing water use even further. But the consequences of that reduced water flow have ledLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. to concerns about water quality in green schools across the country.

Energy Predictions vs. Energy Performance

Posted on March 21, 2017 by Kent Earle

Editor's note: Kent Earle and his wife, Darcie, documented construction of their superinsulated house on the Canadian prairies in a blog called . GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com published a number of those posts in a series that wrapped up last year. Recently, Kent wrote to say he has been monitoring energy use at the house and offered this followup.

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