Energy Vanguard Blog

Enterprise Green Communities — The Best Program You've Never Heard of

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Oct 6, 2015

The best green building program you've never heard of is probably Enterprise Green Communities. Everyone knows about LEED, of course. Regional programs, such as EarthCraft House and Minnesota GreenStar, also have name recognition in their areas. But unless you've been involved with Enterprise Green Communities, you may not have even heard of it. The recent release of their new program criteria means that it's time for that lack of name recognition to change.

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Tags: affordable housing

Clarifying the Confusing Calculations for Zero Energy Buildings

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Sep 25, 2015

A zero energy building is one that produces on-site at least as much energy as it uses. As I've written here before, the US Department of Energy has been mulling over the various ways to define and calculate zero energy use and recently they made their choice. They're going with a zero energy balance based on source energy. As it turns out, doing the calculations is a bit confusing.

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Tags: environment & sustainability, solar energy

Do Energy Efficient Homes Cause Asthma?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Thu, Sep 24, 2015

The British newspaper The Guardian recently published an article on asthma and energy efficient homes, claiming that reducing energy use in homes can hurt indoor air quality (IAQ). But wait! Asthma may not be the only thing to fear with energy efficient homes. A researcher whose report is cited says that poor IAQ also can lead to "lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, airborne respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease." Should we be worried? Are those airtight houses going to kill us?

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Tags: air leakage, indoor air quality, moisture problems, health & safety, ventilation

The Department of Energy Makes a Choice in the Net Zero Debate

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Sep 18, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about whether homes that produce as much energy as they use should be called net zero energy or zero net energy homes. Several readers offered up another choice: zero energy homes. I've also written in the past about four different ways to define net zero energy (the term I've preferred). Now, the US Department of Energy has weighed in on both of these debates. Do you know what they decided?

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Tags: environment & sustainability, solar energy

The Science of Sag - Flex Duct and Air Flow

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Sep 16, 2015

Sagging flex duct is bad for air flow. We all know it. We all talk about it. It turns out there's research data to prove it, too. Texas A&M did a study a few years ago to look at the pressure drop that occurs for different levels of compression. If you're not familiar with this study, the results may astound you.

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Tags: heating & cooling distribution

7 Tips & Tricks for Blower Door and Duct Leakage Testing

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Sep 9, 2015

A typical BPI Building Analyst spends four to five days in a class learning how to do blower door testing, along with all the other stuff they need to know. HERS raters get all that but also have to learn how to do duct leakage testing. Then there’s that whole big bunch of people who have gone through one or two day intensive blower door and duct leakage training for energy code compliance. When they’re done with the training, how do they figure out how to do pressure testing in the real world?

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Tags: diagnostic/performance testing

It's Time to Settle the Net Zero Energy Controversy!

Posted by Allison Bailes on Tue, Sep 1, 2015

Some people call it a net zero energy home (NZE). Some call it a zero net energy home (ZNE). The controversy has caused good friends to come to blows. I'm talking Building Science Fight Club on steroids! (Of course, I've been known to exaggerate before.)  Now we need your help.

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Tags: net zero energy

Fundamentals of Psychrometrics, Part 3

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Aug 31, 2015

To this point, we’ve taken a look at what exactly psychrometrics is and defined the top nine psychrometric quantities. Now we're going to delve into how we can combine those quantities and create the psychrometric chart. As you might expect, taking nine variables and putting them into one chart puts a lot of information at your fingertips. It also can take a while to figure it all out. On top of all that, having nine different variables means you’ve got a lot of options for how to show them in a chart.

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Tags: moisture problems

4 Passive House Conference Talks I Can't Wait to Hear

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Aug 28, 2015

The 10th annual North American Passive House Conference is just around the corner. It's in Chicago this year, a nice central location and also where the headquarters of the Passive House Institute US is located. I really enjoy this conference and always get to hear some high level talks there. Looking over the agenda for this year's conference, these are the presentations I'm most looking forward to.

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Tags: conferences

A Canadian Building Science Treat for Your Weekend!

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Aug 28, 2015

I have to apologize. I've been holding onto a secret for three weeks now, and I've just got to tell you about it. One of the best things that came out of Building Science Summer Camp this year was an announcement. The photo here holds the clue to that momentous revelation. No, it's not the campaign button for a Trump/Lstiburek ticket in the US presidential election. But it was made by the guy wearing that button: Stephen Collette.

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Tags: education