Dawn Killough

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon.  
Doors and windows effect R-value of a building

What Affects the R-Value of a Building?

This is part two of our posts on R-value.  Read the first post to get a definition of R-value and find out what it means to you. Doors and Windows As much as we love, and need, doors and windows, they are not good for a building’s insulation value.  Doors open and close, allowing air to move freely inside and out.  Additionally, it can be tough to completely seal the gap around a door, causing even more air leakage when…

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R-value of building insulation

What Is R-Value and What Does It Mean To You?

What Is R-Value? Simply put, R-value is a measurement of how insulating a building material is, protecting one side from the heat or cold on the other side.  A higher R-value means that a material insulates better than one with a lower value. In order to get an idea of what these values are, here are a few examples of common building materials and their R-values: 1/2″ drywall – 0.45 1/2″ plywood – 0.62 4″ wide brick – 0.80 1″…

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BluBloc insulated concrete forms

New Insulated Concrete Blocks Made From Recycled Styrofoam

A new company in Portland, Oregon is gearing up to manufacture large quantities of the latest product in the ICF (insulated concrete forms) world.  BluBloc offers a twist on standard ICF products – it uses recycled styrofoam instead of manufacturing new for use in the forms. BluBloc is 85% recycled polystyrene foam (styrofoam) and 15% cement.  Like other ICF products, the “blocks” interlock to form the outside structure of a building.  Cement is then poured inside the forms, creating a…

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Mushrooms Hold Key to Stormwater Treatment

Mycoremediation, the use of fungi to treat water and soil, could be the stormwater filter of the present and future.  A couple of projects in Portland, Oregon are putting the science to the test. According to Wikipedia, “one of the primary roles of fungi in the ecosystem is decomposition, which is performed by the mycelium. The mycelium secretes extracellular enzymes and acids that break down lignin and cellulose, the two main building blocks of plant fiber… The key to mycoremediation…

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SunBeamer Skylight System Provides Natural Light Indoors, Promotes Vitamin D Production

SunCentral has announced the release of a new skylight system that claims to promote vitamin D production by providing natural sunlight in interior spaces that would not normally see sunlight. “Our goal was to develop an indoor lighting system that provides much of the sun’s health benefits, including boosting the body’s ability to produce Vitamin D, while reducing the intensity of wavelengths of ultraviolet (UV) light that are more harmful than beneficial,” said the system’s co-inventor, Lorne Whitehead, Ph.D., professor…

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New Tool to Improve Building Energy Efficiency Fits In Backpack

A group of scientists from University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new tool that measures a building’s dimensions, locates HVAC systems and ductwork, and maps out the location of electrical sources, all in an effort to improve building energy efficiency. When a building is slated for improvements, designers usually have to comb files to find old drawings or contact the original architect, if they are still in business.  If neither of these options pan out, they have to physically…

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The US leads the world in investment in electric vehicles

US Leads World In Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, and High Energy Consumption

Next 10’s Green Innovation Index, International Edition for the first time analyzes and ranks the economic and energy performance of the world’s 50 largest greenhouse gas emitting nations. While the US ranks high in investment in clean energy and electric vehicle ownership, it also leads in having the highest energy consumption and emissions, but we are improving. “Some of the world’s largest economies are now decoupling economic growth and energy use, actually growing their GDPs [gross domestic products] while shrinking their…

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Ink-coated window shade saves energy

New Ink-Coated Window Shades Save Energy

A New Jersey firm has found a way to provide electronic energy-saving shading for windows at very little additional cost. Elliott Schlam, the principal of New Visual Media Group, says his firm has come up with a new take on the traditional window shade – a super-thin sheet of polymer film that’s installed inside insulating glazing units (IGUs). “All of the dynamic window technologies are basically chemically oriented,” Schlam says. “Ours is an actual physical shade that’s coated with ink.…

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Fernhill Eco Center

Ferncliff Eco Center Features Unique Sustainable Flooring Options

Something very unique has happened in Arkansas!  The Eco Center at Ferncliff in Little Rock is a volunteer-built straw bale mecca for those looking for sustainable building options.  The floors alone are worthy of an article to themselves! First, a bit of background.  Ferncliff is a summer camp and conference center owned by a nearby Presbyterian church.  The center built the eco building to provide a place where children and adults could learn about sustainable building and living.  It features…

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Tenant Star Program Recognizes Energy Efficient Office Spaces

The US Congress and President Obama recently approved a bill that would establish the Tenant Star Program to recognize office spaces that implement energy efficiency measures, saving money and the environment. The Tenant Star Program will be a part of the current Energy Star Program for buildings, providing incentives to encourage tenants in office buildings to install energy-reducing fixtures and systems.  It will be the first government-endorsed label in the United States to recognize leased spaces within commercial buildings for sustainable…

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3-D printing from Lowe's

Lowe’s Offers 3-D Printing Out of Any Material, Including Gold

Lowe’s Innovation Labs is now offering 3-D printing of household hardware items from a Lowe’s-owned Orchard Supply Store in Mountain View, California.  While 3-D printing is becoming more commonplace, it takes a certain knowledge to program a printer to create an item.  With Lowe’s new system, average homeowners are able to design and print their own ideas, no special knowledge required. Lowe’s service is meant to help customers with no knowledge of 3-D printing create something from scratch or from…

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Sustainable power systems rating system

Sustainable Power Systems Rating Program Launched

Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI) launched the newest green rating system earlier this week – this one is for sustainable power systems.  PEER, as it is called, stands for Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal, and it evaluates power generation, transmission and distribution systems through the lens of the customer, focusing on efficiency, quality, reliability, resiliency and the environment. The PEER rating system is modeled after the US Green Building Council’s LEED green building certification program (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design),…

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Buy Scottish land and become a lord or lady

Become a Scottish Lord or Lady for $50, and Help the Planet Too

Ever dreamed of being a part of the landed gentry?  Here’s your chance.  For less that $50 you can purchase a small plot of land in Scotland, which entitles you to use the title of Laird (landowner), Lord, or Lady!  The good thing is, the land is preserved in its natural state and you can help the planet. Highland Titles, one of the world’s leading innovators in land preservation, is offering the opportunity to purchase souvenir plots of land in…

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The first power-to-gas plant in the US opened in California

First US Power-to-Gas Plants Open in California and Colorado

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) is bringing science fiction to life, launching two demonstration projects to create and test a carbon-free, power-to-gas system for the first time ever in the U.S. The technology converts electricity into gaseous energy and could provide North America with a large-scale, cost-effective solution for storing excess energy produced from renewable sources. Using electrolyzer-based methods, the power-to-gas concept uses electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, to make carbon-free hydrogen gas by breaking…

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Dunbarton High School is the greenest school on the earth

Dunbarton High School Is the Greenest School on Earth

Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ontario, Canada has been selected as the 2015 Greenest School on Earth by the Global Coalition for Green Schools. Dunbarton High School, built in the 1960s, has undergone a significant retrofit over the past five years, installing new energy-efficient windows, insulation and lower wattage lighting. The school offers a Specialist High Skills Major in Environment and engages students through coursework and extracurricular activities related to the school’s natural surroundings. Also a winner of the 2014…

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LEED certified parking structure

LEED Helps Companies Show Corporate Responsibility

The world’s top-performing companies are prioritizing sustainability as part of their corporate responsibility efforts, and a majority of them are using LEED to help them achieve their goals, according to a survey released by the U.S. Green Building Council. The study looked at Fortune 200 companies, most of them users of LEED and members of USGBC. “We launched LEED 15 years ago so that the world’s leading businesses would have a tool that would deliver the immediate, measureable results they need…

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LEED recognizes Living Building Challenge credits

LEED to Recognize Living Building Challenge Credits

The U.S. Green Building Council recently announced that it will recognize energy and water requirements from the Living Building Challenge (the Challenge) green building system within the LEED green building program. Projects achieving the energy and water requirements in Living Building Challenge will be considered as technically equivalent to LEED. “USGBC and the International Living Future Institute, developers of the Living Building Challenge, share a common commitment and goal to transform the way we design, build and operate our buildings,”…

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Bullitt Center Earns Living Building Certification

Bullitt Center Earns Living Building Certification

The Bullitt Center has proven its status as the greenest commercial building in the world by becoming the first office building to earn Living Building certification, the most challenging benchmark of sustainability in the built environment. To earn the certification, the Bullitt Center demonstrated that it produces more electricity from solar panels on its roof than occupants use in a year. In addition, toxic chemicals were screened from all building materials and all wood was Forest Stewardship Council certified. Its…

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