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Energy Vanguard Blog

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An Interview with Terry Brennan — a Building Science Pioneer

 
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Last week I got a chance to sit down and talk with Terry Brennan in Dallas at the Air Barrier Association of America’s annual conference. He may not be as famous as Joe Lstiburek, but he’s every bit the building science pioneer. Armed with a physics degree, the ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals, and a desire to reduce the environmental impact of buildings, he built houses and wrote energy modeling computer programs back in the 1970s and ‘80s. When he finally met Lstiburek in the early ‘80s, he learned not to bet against Joe’s ability to do ridiculous things. Read the transcript of our conversation and find out what that bet was and more.

The Paranormal - Building Science Nexus

 
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Have you seen ghosts? Ever been in a haunted house? Do some homes just give you the paranormal heebie jeebies? The building science ghostbusters are hot on the trail, so you may be able to set your mind at ease.

7 Reasons to Go to the ACI National Home Performance Conference

 
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The ACI National Home Performance Conference is only a month away. Even more important, the deadline to get the Early Bird rate on the registration fee is Monday, 6 April. If you work on homes, this conference is for you. Here are 7 reasons why.

A New Way to Cool Your Attic - Powered Attic Mini-Split Heat Pumps

 
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Move over powered attic ventilator. There's a new boss in town. For decades, concerned homeowners have looked for ways to keep their attics cool: gable vents, ridge vents, turtlebacks and whirlybirds. Then they moved from passive to active and latched onto the powered attic ventilator. Now we don't have to settle for a technology that pulls conditioned air up from the house.

California Mistakes Put Spray Foam Insulation on the "Bad List"

 
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Last summer I learned about the state of California's efforts to create more healthful buildings and working conditions. In 2008, they passed the California Green Chemistry Initiative with the intent of reducing state residents' exposure to toxic chemicals. California leads the US in new directions all the time, and green chemistry could be another. Unfortunately, though, they were slow out of the gate and their initial attempts to implement the law don't instill confidence.

Insolation Is Not a Typo for Insulation

 
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In 1993 I took a graduate course in solar energy from Professor Yogi Goswami. It was a great course, and one of the projects we had to do was to compile a whole binder full of solar radiation data for Gainesville, Florida. I used an ancient spreadsheet called Lotus 1-2-3 (remember that?) to do all the calculations for various azimuth and elevation angles throughout the year. Another thing I learned in the class was a new word.

The Sad Joke of Higher Furnace Efficiency Standards

 
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Do you know when the US last raised furnace efficiency standards? It was 1987. Do you know how long the US Department of Energy (DOE) has been trying to change that? At least since 2007. The past eight years have been a sad case of industry heavyweights preventing progress on this important issue. The DOE has just proposed a new rule, so we might finally see some action here. Do you know when it's set to go into effect, if passed?

A Beautiful Solar Home in Utah Nears Net Zero Energy Use

 
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I'm writing this on St. Patrick's Day so let me tell you a wee bit about the O'Mearas. Kevin and Svetlana O'Meara live in a beautiful home in Utah that's oh-so-close to being a net zero energy home. After I wrote about how home building is like skiing two years ago, Kevin invited me out to see their home and this year I managed to do so. My wife and I visited them for two days last week and Kevin told me all about the house, including his one major regret.

The Problem of Getting Air for Atmospheric Combustion Appliances

 
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Remember those two furnaces I showed you photos of last week? You know, the ones that had ducts placed—or taped, in one case—right in front of them to bring them combustion air. I told you it wasn't a good way to deal with the combustion air issue, but let's go a little further today. Let's look at what building codes say is the right way to do it.

The Energy Vanguard Blog Turns 5

 
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On Saturday, the Energy Vanguard Blog turned 5 years old. It's been an interesting and rewarding journey, and I'm really glad I sat down and started doing it in early March 2010.

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