Building Science

Climate Smart

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint — Part Two

Posted on April 6, 2009 by Annette Stelmack

Boulder County’s Climate Smart loan program

Part Two: A deeper level of action
The first major step toward reducing your carbon footprintAmount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that a person, community, industry, or other entity contributes to the atmosphere through energy use, transportation, and other means. is understanding how much energy you use. Energy efficiency is often more cost effective than renewable-energy alternatives. The target is to use less energy for the same amount of heating, cooling, lighting, and of course, powering appliances, the stereo, televisions, and iPods. Fortunately, a big benefit of most energy-efficiency measures is creating greater comfort in the home over the long term.


Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Posted on April 3, 2009 by Rob Moody

I’ve been absent from the blog for about a week. My apologies. I was traveling and studying for the LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. AP exam, which I took on Monday this week and passed. I have since been recovering. I’m glad it’s over, and I am looking forward to enrolling in the LEED AP+ program when it comes out later this year. The test was pretty much what I had expected, and I’m definitely glad that I studied.

Mold in a vented attic

Don't Try This At Home: Armchair Building Science

Posted on April 2, 2009 by Peter Yost

The homeowners called me after a certified home inspector stated that the attic was underventilated and moisture was building up as a result. The roof assembly had soffit vents at the eaves and two gable-end vents. These vents would not be as effective as ridge-to-soffit ventilation, but were probably close to building code requirements (see Green Basics – Attics).

Climate Smart

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint — Part One

Posted on March 31, 2009 by Annette Stelmack

How many of you have searched the Web to calculate your carbon footprint? I have, and it is exciting, intimidating, and perhaps an all-consuming process. More than 10 years ago my husband and I signed on with Xcel Energy support wind power. We installed a programmable thermostat and set the temperature higher in the summer and lower in the winter.

USGBC Education Provider Program

LEED Can Change, Part Three: The Education Program

Posted on March 24, 2009 by Rob Moody

Here’s where I start to get a bit giddy (I know that’s geeky). When I was teaching high school environmental science, I had my students create and carry out green building projects. Partially due to my excitement about the topic, I had some of the best results in that class of any unit that I taught. The basic model that I utilized for most of my major lessons was the same: I would verbally present the content, followed by a demonstration of the topic, and conclude with a lab or project so that the kids could experience the concept first-hand.


Moisture Sources, Relative Humidity, and Mold

Posted on March 24, 2009 by Peter Yost

A little water goes a long way

We hear a lot about how moisture can be an indoor pollutant in tight houses. But just how much moisture can be a problem; how does boiling a pot of water compare to a 15-minute shower? This keeps some of us mold worrywarts up at night, so I thought it would be a good idea to run some numbers.

thermal bridge - steel

Thermal Bridging

Posted on March 19, 2009 by Peter Yost

Everything is relative — especially when it comes to thermal bridgingHeat flow that occurs across more conductive components in an otherwise well-insulated material, resulting in disproportionately significant heat loss. For example, steel studs in an insulated wall dramatically reduce the overall energy performance of the wall, because of thermal bridging through the steel. . Thermal bridging occurs wherever assembly components with low R-values relative to surrounding materials span from the inside to the outside of a building assembly. Thermal bridging takes place in wood-framed assemblies because, although wood is a pretty good insulator at about R-1 per inch, it is at least three times more thermally conductive than any cavity insulation, which start at about R-3.5 per inch.

Moisture Meter - basement

Pressure-Treated Sill Plates and the Building Code

Posted on March 9, 2009 by Peter Yost

Code requirements for wood-concrete contact treat the symptoms of rot, not the cause

Last week we talked about moisture meters, and I asked readers why the wood in the picture was wet. As it turns out, that photo was taken in the same house on the same day as the two pictures at right.

moisture meter - crawl2

Tools of the Trade: Moisture Meters

Posted on March 2, 2009 by Peter Yost

A moisture meter is a simple, easy-to-use tool for evaluating moisture and mold problems

Moisture meters help you figure out whether your building materials are too wet. They typically use electrical conductivity between a couple of metal pins to assess moisture content; the more moisture in the material, the greater the electrical conductivity. The moisture content is measured as a percentage of total weight.

Solar fan vent

Are Solar-Powered Attic Ventilators Green?

Posted on February 26, 2009 by Peter Yost

At face value, attic exhaust fans make a lot of sense: if your attic is too hot, you force more air through it to cool it down. To be efficient, you use a solar-powered attic exhaust fan. When the sun is shining and heating up your attic, that’s when the photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. panel wired to the exhaust fan powers the fan. Pretty slick.

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