Green Building
Building my passive house

Building my passive house

Passive House Institute US offers a certification program developed in Europe to assist home building professionals seeking to build highly energy efficient homes (www.phaus.org for more information). This is the first entry in what will be a series of columns about the design and construction of my own Passive House. This is a rigorous process,...
Build green, be happy! Part III

Build green, be happy! Part III

Happiness. This is what some may call the touchy-feely reason to build green. I get it. I have friends who need a lot of convincing; they just want to know the bottom line and only want to talk about the facts. How can I even bring something as ephemeral and vague as happiness into to...
Build green, stay healthy

Build green, stay healthy

In my last column, we talked about building to be energy efficient; this month we’ll discuss building to be healthy. Keep It All Out: The Awesome Building Envelope Here is a big plus. The more you adhere to the tenants of Green Building (like building a well-insulated, well-sealed, envelope) the less allergens and illness you...
Build Green: Save Money

Build Green: Save Money

What are we talking about when we talk about green building? We all know the basics: recycle, turn the heat down, install cfl light bulbs, use no-voc paint.  Many of us even know that the first, and best, thing you can do to make a house energy efficient is to add insulation and address air...
What kind of house do you drive?

What kind of house do you drive?

Is your house a Yugo or a Mercedes? Would you rather your house was a Prius? How about a Tesla? Before we talk about houses, let’s talk about cars. With cars it’s generally considered obvious: you get what you pay for. There are quality levels associated with cars brands and price tags. But what does...

The Energy Efficient Foundation, Part 3

In my second column of three on foundations, I wrote about how to insulate a basement that is always dry. In this column, I’m going to write about what to do if your basement is always or sometimes damp or wet. The first thing is to see if there’s a cost-effective way to make your...
The energy-efficient foundation, Part 2

The energy-efficient foundation, Part 2

Last month, I wrote that an unfinished basement represents a golden opportunity to improve the thermal envelope (TE) of your home at a low cost with a rapid payback by way of reduced energy bills.  The fact is that most basements have little insulation, and there is no clear boundary between conditioned and unconditioned space,...

The Energy-Efficient Foundation

Illustration courtesy of Elizabeth DiSalvo, Trillium Architects I began this monthly series of columns by taking a look at options for building energy-efficient walls and then moved on to attics and roofs. Now let’s complete our look at advanced thermal envelopes (TEs) by checking out foundations. Most homes in Fairfield County have foundations that include...

Insulating the Roof of an Energy-Efficient Home

Reducing the flow of heat from the conditioned areas of a house to either an unconditioned attic or directly through the roof itself is a critical task in an energy-efficient house. In last month’s column, I wrote about how to insulate and air-seal at the level of the attic floor. However, there are times when...
Keeping the heat in

Keeping the heat in

We know that warm air rises. Consequently, during the cold months it’s important to stop the flow of heat through the roof or, alternatively, the attic floor. To accomplish this, the same solutions that I described for walls in my previous columns will work. First, we want a high level of insulation. Second, we want...
The Green House Effect

The Green House Effect

  If you start with the premise that a “green” house is an energy efficient one, then the exterior walls of such a house should excel at keeping heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer. Most existing houses provide second rate control over heat flow, resulting in the need for lots of...

Green veggies versus a green home

Everyone knows that green vegetables are good for you, but for many people veggies will never make their lists of favorite foods.  So is a green home good for you in the same way, where you have to make compromises and put up with a home that’s not really what you wanted?  The answer is...