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Does This Harvard Professor Signal Doom for Architecture?

 
scott hedges tweet hope for architecture 20140426

It started simply enough. I got a tweet (below) directed at me with a link and a request to check it out to see if there's any "hope for architecture." So I did. I clicked the link, and what I found there was a bit jarring. My first thought was, This must be an April Fool's Day joke, right? Sadly, it appears to be real.

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A Great Success: Classic 1970s Passive Solar Home Turned Net Zero

 
passive solar house richard levine kentucky 600

I've been in Lexington, Kentucky this week at the Midwest Residential Energy Conference. It was great! (And I played nice - I didn't mention in any of my talks that I'm a Florida Gator.) One of the many highlights for me was getting to visit Richard "Dick" Levine's 1970s passive solar house. It's not like any other house I've seen, and I've seen other passive solar houses.

The Case of the Duct That Wasn't There

 
duct hvac kitchen cabinet toekick structure tech

I saw the photo below on the Structure Tech Facebook page recently. (They're a home inspection company in Minnesota that appreciates building science.) In this case, everyone can see one of the problems. Even if you know nothing about building science, you can see it, right?

5 Easy Steps to Understanding WUFI - Memento Style

 
guy pearce memento

If you have any involvement with the world of building science, you may have heard about something called WUFI and wondered what the heck it is. Maybe you've heard that it's a piece of software (several pieces, actually) that does hygrothermal modeling. Well, today's your lucky day because I just went through a two-day class on WUFI 1-D with Dr. Achilles Karagiozis and Mr. Mikael Salonvaara of Owens Corning, and I'll give you the shortest explanation possible of what it's all about. And I'll give it to you the way we learned about Guy Pearce's character in the movie Memento.

This Little Ventilation Mistake Can Lead to Comfort Problems

 
ventilation energy recovery ventilator erv electronic damper

If you're designing a ventilation system, first you have to determine how much air the house needs. You can use ASHRAE 62.2 or the new BSC-01 for that task. Then you have to decide what type of ventilation system to use: positive pressure, negative pressure, or balanced. In many green homes, the balanced system is becoming a popular choice. I've seen some installations lately, though, that are missing a key component.

Why Do So Many Expensive Homes Get Walmart-Class HVAC Systems?

 
million dollar home crappy hvac wall street journal

The fellow standing in the home he's having built is proud. It's his dream home in Brookline, Massachusetts after all. The Wall Street Journal last week published an article about affluent home buyers getting their own jumbo construction loans to do just as Mr. Deshpande has done. Usually, they hire a home builder to build the home, but if you look at that photo, you'll see a mistake that's common even in million dollar homes.

Advice to Architects: Draw Those Attic Kneewall Sections Right

 
attic kneewall details air barrier insulation

We're working on a project, so we got a set of plans to get started. It includes the attic kneewall and vaulted ceiling section you see below.This is typical of plans that architects draw, and builders build houses this way all the time. Unfortunately, it contains several errors. Can you spot them?

Don't Try This Recycling Trick at Home!

 
house all glass front windows repurpose inhabitat

I confess that, back in the '80s, I might have done the same thing this couple did. I remember reading Mother Earth News and Practical Homeowner magazine articles about folks who collected discarded materials to use in their existing homes or to build a new one. Take that man in Colorado, for example, who had a materials stash big enough to build a whole, nice-sized house for only $5000. That was cool! Since then, however, I've learned why I would have regretted building a house resembling what you see below.

5 Good Ways & 1 Bad Way to Get Your Ducts Inside Conditioned Space

 
ducts inside conditioned space

I'm a big advocate of getting ducts inside the building enclosure. In cooling climates, getting ducts out of an unconditioned attic can save you 15% on your electricity bills. It can reduce the size of air conditioner you need by 25%. If it's not in such a harsh environment, your air conditioner will last longer, too. But how do you do it?

Beautiful Duct System in a Beautiful Crawl Space! Was I Dreaming?

 
crawl space duct system moisture mold nasty iaq

I've seen a lot of nasty crawl spaces. I've squirmed through their squalor and squeezed through their narrow confines. Possums, snakes, spiders, and camel crickets have kept me company in the dank, musty underworlds that so many people live above. Moldy joist fur (furry joist mold? joisty mold fur?) doesn't faze me. (That's not to say I haven't had nightmarish experiences.)

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