GreenSpec Insights

Can A Pending Standard for LEDs Prevent Another Lighting Debacle?

Posted by Brent Ehrlich on 10/16/2013

LED light quality is still not very good, but a new California standard could change that, and prevent another...

Our Deck Is Made from Pallets—But It's Not What You Think

Posted by Alex Wilson on 10/15/2013

Viridian tropical hardwood decking is reclaimed from shipping materials—and it should last decades

We’re moving along with some of the wrap-up work on our house in Dummerston. One of those projects is installing the porch decking on both the front and rear porches and a handicapped ramp up from the garage to the back porch. (We plan to live there for a long time!)

For the decking, we used a product we recognized in our annual...

New Home Proves LEDs Are Ready to Supplant Older Lighting

Posted by Alex Wilson on 10/02/2013

LED lighting has come a long way in a very few years and can now fully supplant incandescent and fluorescent technology

Our electrician was in last week installing lighting in our new home here in southern Vermont. Virtually all of our lighting will be LEDs—the state-of-the-art today in energy-efficient lighting.

LED stands for “...

4 Insider Tips for Choosing Flashing Tapes, from a Real-Life Engineer

Posted by Peter Yost on 09/11/2013

A research engineer at Pella Windows finally offers some adult supervision for our benchtop tape tests.

This post is part of a series on adhesives, sealants, tapes, and gaskets. Click here to view all the posts.

When the Wingnut Test Facility (WTF) took its tape testing protocols on the road, as I reported...

A Heat Pump Using Carbon Dioxide as the Refrigerant

Posted by Alex Wilson on 08/28/2013

A new generation of CO2-based heat pumps could avoid the high global warming potential of standard refrigerants and generate much higher temperatures

In researching and writing about building products for Environmental Building News over the past twenty-plus years I’...

What to Avoid in Interior Paints

Posted by Tristan Roberts on 08/12/2013

Occupant health and performance are the key consideration when choosing an interior paint. Most people have heard of low-VOC paints, but there is a lot more to look for. And it’s easy to miss out on high-performing paints when low- or no-VOC is the main thing you’re looking for.

We have some editor's picks in this area, and we'll be offering more guidance like this in a members-only August 21st webcast.

First, check...

Beating the Achilles Heel of Grid-Tied Solar Electric Systems

Posted by Alex Wilson on 08/07/2013

A new inverter from SMA allows us to draw some daytime power from our PV system when the grid is down, even without batteries

One of the biggest complaints I hear about most solar-electric (photovoltaic, PV) systems is that when the grid goes down you can’t use any of the power that’s produced. Consumers have spent thousands of dollars on a PV system, and during an extended power outage during a bright, sunny day when the PV modules are certainly...

Smart Vapor Retarders: Not Just Your Grandmother’s Poly

Posted by Alex Wilson on 07/31/2013

New smart vapor retarders block most vapor diffusion when you want to eliminate risk of condensation, but allow vapor flow when you want drying potential

Nowhere in building design has there been more confusion or more dramatic change in recommended practice than with vapor retarders. Thirty years ago, we were told to always install a polyethylene (...

Getting to Know Spider Insulation

Posted by Alex Wilson on 07/22/2013

Spray-applied fiberglass insulation offers huge benefits over fiberglass batts and even has some advantages over cellulose

We’ve just completed the installation of a relatively new and (at least in New England) little-known insulation material called Spider. As a reminder, the house we are renovating (really re-building) in Dummerston, Vermont has provided an opportunity to try out dozens of innovative products and materials that I’ve long...

From Tyvek to Pro Clima: The Evolution of Weather-Resistive Barriers

Posted by Alex Wilson on 06/25/2013

We’ve come a long way from the early Tyvek housewrap; our experience with the German Pro Clima Solitex weather-resistive barrier

I remember years ago—I hate to remember how many; it must have been around 1982 or 1983—writing for New England Builder (now the Journal of Light Construction) about Tyvek housewrap. It was then a...

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Recent Discussions

posted by lloydalter
on Apr 11, 2014

I don't think it is a question of urine separating beating composting toilets...

posted by lloydalter
on Mar 27, 2014

My former boss Graham Hill, who built a high end tiny apartment after he left TreeHugger, used induction in an interesting way: since they use so...

posted by brucedonelson
on Mar 22, 2014

If you insulate the mechanical room, your HPWH will certainly become quiter to you upstairs. But it will have less heat available from upstairs...