All posts from Philip Proefrock

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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 […]

February 14th

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 […]

February 13th

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 […]

February 7th

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 […]

February 5th

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 […]

January 28th

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 […]

January 25th

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 […]

January 17th

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 […]

January 15th

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 […]

December 29th

Greener Roof Replacement Options

At some point in the useful life of most houses, the roof needs to be replaced. An EPA report prepared in the late 1990s calculated that almost 4 million homes per year have their asphalt roofs replaced, leading to the generation of 6.4 million tons of asphalt roofing waste. (Table A-8) Because of this, roofing […]

December 27th

LEED-EB Silver for World's Largest Commercial Building

The Merchandise Mart in Chicago is the largest commercial building and second only to the Pentagon as the largest building. So getting such a large building into the LEED program was a great step for promoting green buildings. In November, the Merchandise Mart received its certification as a LEED-EB Silver building. That’s a whole lot […]

December 18th

Least Sexy Top Ten Green Building Product

Of this year’s Building Green Top 10 Green Building Products, the least sexy is, without a doubt, the LifeGuard electrical cable manufactured by Houston Wire & Cable Company. Wire isn’t a sexy new building material. But sometimes the most prosaic of materials can be interesting, and something as exciting as a top 10 placement can […]

December 13th

Home Ventilation Control

Big buildings save energy by controlling which areas need to have heating or cooling, and not wasting energy on those spaces when they are not occupied. Similar features are sometimes found on high end homes (and are probably almost a necessity on the oversized starter castles spread across the outskirts of every city). But systems […]

December 6th

Buy Locally, Build Locally

Use of local materials can be a good way to help make a construction project greener. If the materials being used don’t need to be transported from great distances, there is less embodied energy in the transportation of the materials, and thereby the production of those materials has less environmental impact. Of course, there are […]

December 4th

Dealing with Wildfires and Drought


Wildfires aren’t usually on my radar, because I don’t live in a region that is much susceptible to them. But, in the past couple of weeks, everyone has become more aware of them. They have been widely across the news because of the number of serious wildfires in southern California recently. At the same time, recent news coverage has also looked at drought conditions which are being felt in Georgia and North Carolina. While these two are be peripherally linked in other ways, it makes some sense to look at these issues from the perspective of sustainable building.

Addressing the issue of preparation for these extreme conditions as part of a sustainable building strategy only makes sense. Water use and xeriscaping (drought tolerant landscaping) are issues that are included in the LEED rating system, and are well regarded as part of the overall sustainability of buildings. But addressing a building and it’s site in terms of wildfires should be equally considered for regions where fire susceptibility is high. Keeping the building from burning down is also an issue of conservation of resources and should be part of a green building approach.

October 31st