Platinum LEED 19th Century Building

Harvard University has achieved several firsts with the recent renovation of an old power plant into an office building. It is the first LEED Platinum certified university building renovation, as well as Harvard’s first Platinum building. More interestingly though, it is the first Platinum building built before the turn of the the century–last century, that is. Further, the university was able to complete this building without an increase in the up-front construction costs.

Read More

Super-Insulating Vacuum Glass

In terms of energy efficiency, windows are one of the biggest contributors to heat loss from buildings. However, a new window technology being developed by Guardian Industries could allow for windows that can provide insulation values comparable to a standard insulated 2×4 stud wall, with a new double-pane glass and a vacuum between the panes. A thermos keeps hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold by separating the contents from the outside world with a vacuum. Heat is conducted by…

Read More

Increasing Tax Breaks for Public Buildings

The IRS has had tax deductions in place through the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which allow taxpayers to deduct the cost of energy-efficient equipment installed in commercial buildings they own. But publicly-owned buildings aren’t taxed, and therefore, there is no additional tax savings to the building owner. However, the law allows the designer of the energy-saving portion of a public building to claim the tax credit.

Read More

Geothermal Energy and Ground Source Heat Pumps

Although they sound like they are different terms for the same thing, geothermal energy and ground source heat pumps are two different systems, with little in common other than that they are making use of what lies below the surface of the Earth. They do it in very different ways, however. A geothermal energy system uses heat from below the surface of the earth as an energy source, much like solar panels capture sunlight and convert it into useful energy…

Read More

GreenBean Seeking a Chicago Editor

There are a number of regional blogs about green building that I follow, more or less, regularly. Some of them are already in our blogroll (at the right), and we’re working to expand that list. One of the best, in my opinion, is Green Bean, which covers green building in Chicago and the surrounding counties. It’s tight in its focus because it deals only with the Chicago region, and it is focused on building projects that have been…

Read More

What’s a Watt?

BuildingGreen.com has a very good and useful piece about energy measurement from the December 2007 Environmental Building News. The article, titled “Energy Metrics: Btus, Watts, and Kilowatt-Hours,” helps explain the differences between different terms such as kilowatt-hours (kWh) and British thermal units (BTU) and when and how they should be used. This is good information for everyone to understand, since we all use energy in our homes and workplaces. Practically anyone interested in improving energy efficiency in a building will…

Read More

Efficiency in a Clothes Dryer

The Dryer Miser is a huge step forward for one kind of energy sucking home appliance, the clothes dryer. While clotheslines are even more efficient and lower energy consuming, not everyone can use them all the time. Climate and weather can limit when a clothesline can be used, and many people live in buildings or sites where line drying is impractical. Instead of directly heating the air, the Dryer Miser uses a heat exchanger filled with a fluid that is…

Read More

Green Communities, Part 1: New Urbanism

[There are a number of different approaches to communities and building that serve to support sustainability (and often other aims at the same time; sustainable strategies are almost invariably diverse and multi-faceted in the benefits they offer). Over the next few weeks, I intend to take a look at a number of these types of communities and the ways each of them contribute to improving overall sustainability.] New Urbanism (sometimes referred to as Traditional Neighborhood Design) is a movement spearheaded…

Read More

Book & DVD Review: Building with Awareness

Building with Awareness is an interesting package loaded with information. It is a DVD with an accompanying book (or a book that comes with a DVD included, depending upon how you look at it). The two nicely complement one another in a fairly unique way. The story contained in the DVD documents the construction of the author’s own small (800 sq. ft.) home built in Albuquerque, NM. The book goes into more detail about the solutions and approaches that are…

Read More

Formaldehyde and Indoor Air Quality

Today’s news included the story that testing on FEMA-supplied temporary housing trailers in Mississippi and Louisiana has found extremely high levels of formaldehyde in the air, despite earlier reports issued by FEMA indicating that there was no problem. Tests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on more than 500 trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi showed formaldehyde levels that were five times higher than levels in a normal house. The levels in some trailers were nearly 40 times what…

Read More

2009 Solar Decathlon Teams Announced

The 20 teams selected for the 2009 Solar Decathlon have been announced by the US Department of Energy. Each team will receive a $100,000 grant from the DOE to be used for creating a completely solar-powered home for the competition. The full list can be found in an article at Custom Home Online. The 2009 competition has some international flavor, including last year’s winner, the Technische Universität Darmstadt, as well as the Universidad Polytécnica de Madrid and two groupings of…

Read More

The Calendar of Green Building Events

Increasing numbers of home builders and home remodeling programs across the country are embracing green building and sustainable design. Some programs are specifically focused on green building while others are including it as a part of the wider event program. In either case, these events can be an excellent (though sometimes overwhelming) source of information for home owners as well as building professionals. In communities like Plano, Texas and Santa Monica, California events are sponsored by the local government and…

Read More

Green Options Turns One: Green Building Elements

The Green Options Media Network that Green Building Elements belongs to started out as a group blog called Green Options a year ago today. I was one of the green building writers on board when it started. In the course of that first year, and all the changes we’ve gone through, Green Options has become a network of related blogs, and I’ve moved to now be the lead writer for an entire blog devoted to green building and sustainable design.…

Read More

Greensburg KS to Rebuild as LEED Platinum City

The city of Greensburg KS was nearly obliterated by an F5 tornado in May 2007. But turning the devestation into an opportunity, the city is looking to make its mark by rebuilding as a green community. The city has mandated that all city buildings larger than 4,000 sq. ft. must be built to LEED-Platinum level and must have an energy performance level at least 42% better than current building code requirements. “The city of Greensburg has taken the extraordinary step…

Read More

Photovoltaics and Firefighters

Safety concerns are going to start being an issue with alternative energy installations. With any new technology come unanticipated concerns, as that system leaves the ideal world of the drawing board (or the computer simulation) and enters the real world. We are already well acquainted with the concerns about wind turbines and birds (for the most part, the issue of bird strikes is not that great compared to other man-made hazards for birds, and is more than offset by the…

Read More

Retrofit Radiant Heating

Radiant heating is an efficient and comfortable method for heating. Instead of heating air and blowing it into spaces to mix with the cooler air and increase the temperature, radiant heating directly heats everything around it. When you stand in direct sunlight and feel the heat on you, that is radiant heating. Household radiant heating uses hot water, either from a water heater or from a boiler, to convey heat throughout the house. Some older homes used hot water or…

Read More

Cars and Buildings

I’ve been away a bit the last couple of weeks which is why you haven’t heard as much from me as usual. I’ve been learning some new things about cars and automotive technology and seeing the latest models being unveiled. I had an opportunity to find out about the new ethanol process and partnership between General Motors and Coskata Inc. that may prove to be a significant milestone in energy production, and signal a reduction in the use of fossil…

Read More

Design Competition for Greener Concrete

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and the Portland Cement Association (PCA) have announced their “Concrete Thinking for a Sustainable World” student design competition. This is the third year for the competition. The concrete industry is looking for opportunities to boost the perception of concrete as a green material, since the mining, processing and transportation of concrete is responsible for 8% of all carbon dioxide produced by human activity.

Read More
×