Author: Philip Proefrock

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Aerogel Insulation Advances

[social_buttons] Aerogel is almost a product out of science fiction. Nicknamed “frozen smoke,” aerogel is extremely lightweight material, with a density only 3 times that of air. Only a small fraction of a volume of aerogel is the material itself. Most of the volume is filled with air. This makes aerogel an excellent insulator. (Aerogel […]

April 11th

Architecture Week 2008 – Is It Sustainable?

Architecture Week was first established one year ago as part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the American Institute of Architects.  This year, for the second Architecture Week, there are three big programs the organization is promoting.  But sustainability gets only a passing mention in one of them, and seems not to be […]

April 7th

When to Turn Off Fluorescent Lights

As more and more homes have compact fluorescent lights, questions are arising about when (or even whether) they should be turned off. One school of thought is that it takes a huge surge of electricity to start fluorescent lights (like those institutional tubes in your 6th grade classroom), and turning the lights on and off […]

April 7th

New Levels of LEED

A new top-level LEED classification called Unobtanium is being proposed to replace the currently proposed Protactinium level, leading to a possible schism in the growing green building rating system.  Whether Protactinium or Unobtanium becomes the new top-level of the LEED rating system…? Earlier this year, officials proposed a new level of LEED (Leadership in Energy […]

April 1st

Expanding Green Building Elements Blogroll

Green Building Elements has a few more interesting and useful websites added to its blogroll for you to check out for more information about green building and design.  If you have come across a particularly useful or interesting site with a strong emphasis on green building and sustainable design, drop us a note about it […]

March 30th

Book Review: Solar Power in Building Design

Solar Power in Building Design by Peter Gevorkian is subtitled “The Engineer’s Complete Design Resource,” and it is certainly an apt description of this extensive volume. The book goes far beyond what a casual reader interested in solar power would need to know, but there is a wealth of good information inside, and it is […]

March 29th

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 […]

March 27th

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. […]

March 17th

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 […]

March 15th

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 […]

March 6th

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 […]

March 3rd

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 […]

February 28th

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 […]

February 22nd

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 […]

February 21st

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 […]

February 16th