Category Archives: Green Building

Megawatt, Gigawatt, Watt is What?

Megawatt, Gigawatt, Watt is What?

The Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Baraboo, WI The LEED Platinum facility features a 39.6 kilowatt (kW) solar electric (photovoltaic) system on its roof, the second largest in Wisconsin. Image property of Daniel Overbey There have been a flurry of headlines lately announcing large-scale renewable energy plans. Here are just a few of the recent news clips: Fast-Track Solar Development Zones Identified: The U.S. Department of the Interior has published a “Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement,” which, among other items,….

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‘Hypermiling’ for Housing

‘Hypermiling’ for Housing

‘Hypermiling’ for Housing: How home energy monitors will liberate an energy-conscious consumer base. By Daniel Overbey A 1996 Civic DX Sedan is not usually considered to be a preeminent fuel-efficient vehicle. Try telling that to Darin Cosgrove of Brockville, Ontario. He’s the cofounder of an online forum, EcoModer.com, chalk full of stories where consumers have taken vehicles like the Civic DX Sedan and increased their fuel efficiency by more than 100 percent over the EPA’s “combined” fuel economy rating. Cosgrove himself….

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Putting the 2012 Indianapolis Heatwaves and Drought into Perspective

Putting the 2012 Indianapolis Heatwaves and Drought into Perspective

Photograph by Ewan Bellamy. Some rights reserved under a Creative Commons license. You heard about it all over the streets of Indianapolis during the Super Bowl festivities. It was unseasonably warm in the Circle City. Patrons swarmed the Super Bowl Village along Georgia Street – some wearing little more than a heavy sweatshirt. As the host city, Indianapolis was bracing itself to deal with several feet of snow and here we were – experiencing the kind of weather Dallas was hoping for….

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The Invention of the Roofpond System

The Invention of the Roofpond System

The roofpond system has always been a dark horse of sorts in the realm of passive solar heating and cooling. Most literature on passive systems will pay lip service to roofponds, but few give credence to the system’s immense potential as exemplified by various case studies with well-documented performance. The reason that the roofpond is often overlooked is two-fold. First, the system has always had a difficult time  “fitting in” with any one category of environmental control systems. It can be used….

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Water: The Ideal Thermal Mass

Water: The Ideal Thermal Mass

What if I told you that I knew about a building product that: Has three times the thermal storage capacity of concrete. Has only half the weight of brick. Is completely non-toxic. Is completely transparent. Is inherently fire-resistant. Is abundantly available in the U.S. at virtually zero cost (at least for the time being). That’s right. I’m talking about water. The nectar of life. Throughout the history of passive solar heating, there are many accounts of innovative thinkers using water as a thermal….

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When Does the 2010 Indiana Energy Conservation Code Not Apply?

When Does the 2010 Indiana Energy Conservation Code Not Apply?

It has been just over two years since Indiana adopted its new energy code, the 2010 Indiana Energy Conservation Code (IECC). During that time, a lot of rumors, inaccuracies, and confusion have emerged regarding the application of the code. The following is an attempt to clarify the issue using primary source materials. . In a nutshell: The 2012 IECC is mandatory statewide for Class 1 structures (commercial buildings and residential buildings with three or more dwelling units). For a definition of….

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2009 IECC vs 2010 IECC

2009 IECC vs 2010 IECC

. In the State of Indiana, virtually all new construction projects involving Class 1 structures need to file with the Division of Fire and Building Safety. As part of the filing process, project teams must demonstrate that the new construction complies with the state’s energy code, the 2010 Indiana Energy Conservation Code (2010 IECC). Interestingly, the acronym for Indiana’s energy code is “IECC” – the same acronym adopted by the International Code Council for their International Energy Conservation Code. This has been a source of confusion….

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Do Green Roofs Provide Insulation Value?

Do Green Roofs Provide Insulation Value?

How much additional insulation does a green roof provide? I posed this question to two green roof experts that I am working with on an upcoming project. Their responses were consistent and somewhat surprising. The short answer: NONE. Green roofs provide innumerous benefits including shading by foliage, retarding heat transfer by advection (transfer of heat or matter by the flow of a fluid), providing thermal mass effect, prompting evapotranspiration, increasing stormwater retention, and protecting waterproof roofing assemblies. However, a green….

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Defining the HERS Index

Defining the HERS Index

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index was established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), a California-based nonprofit, in 2006. In simple terms, the HERS Index compares a new home to a “reference home” of identical size that meets the minimum requirements of the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). To calculate a home’s HERS Index, a rater inputs data about the house into one of four RESNET-accredited software programs. The reference home built to the minimum 2006 IECC requirements gets a score of….

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Can Washington Enforce a Federal Building Energy Code?

Can Washington Enforce a Federal Building Energy Code?

I have recently received several questions related to a “federal building energy code” which requires States to adopt the 2010 version of ASHRAE Standard 90.1 by October 2013. I’ve also been asked if this supposed energy code relates to ARRA stimulus funding. This concept of a federal building energy code is a bit convoluted, but allow me to briefly explain some important aspects of this issue: Building regulations are a State issue. State and local governments are empowered to enact building….

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