My 6 Favorite Sources for Building Science & Green Building Info

4 Comments Read/write comments

building science: spray foam on roofline

Over the past decade, I've immersed myself in the world of building science and green building. I've absorbed a lot of knowledge and have learned the even more important lesson of how to find answers to questions that arise in this field and how to keep abreast of what's new. Here, then, are my top 6 sources of information, not necessarily in order:

  • This has been my favorite for over a year now. The Question & Answer section is great. They have a lot of technical details in articles about practically every building science and green building subject that exists. The best part, though, are the blogs. With more than a dozen bloggers, you can benefit from the accumulated knowledge of people in the field who've been doing this for a long time. My personal favorite is Martin Holladay's blog, Musings of an Energy Nerd.
  • ENERGY STAR website. If you thought ENERGY STAR was only for refrigerators and computers, you need to visit their website now. It's packed with good information about improving existing homes, qualifying new homes for the ENERGY STAR label, the building science behind their program criteria, and, yes, details about products like refrigerators and computers.
  • Building Science Corporation. Joe Lstiburek, Betsy Petit, and John Straube are three of the biggest names in building science, and BSC is their company. If you want the best building science information available, this is where you go. Much of the building science information you find in other places on the web originates from BSC's work.
  • Fine Homebuilding magazine. When I started the process of designing and building a green home in 2001, I discovered Fine Homebuilding and quickly became a subscriber. Mostly it was the construction knowledge that I sought, but they did have the occasional article about green building in the early years of my subscription. Now, building science and green building are featured regularly.
  • The RESNET/BPI group on If you're involved in field of home energy ratings/audits or home performance contracting, you should join this group. It's very active, with a lot of great discussions. A recent one on the topic of insulation being in contact with the subfloor, for example, generated 29 comments (so far) and raised some good questions.
  • Home Energy magazine. This one is essential for home energy raters/auditors and home performance contractors. If you're a HERS rater, you get a subscription to it when you become a member of RESNET.

A couple of other important sources I've used over the years are Advanced Energy and Southface Energy Institute, a pair of nonprofit organizations in North Carolina and Georgia, respectively. The former has the best info available about conditioned crawl spaces, and the latter is where I got trained as a HERS rater in 2003 and where I've been teaching HERS raters since 2008.


Sam Bagwell

These are some of the most important secrets to learn. Thanks for the list. I didn't know about Advanced Energy.

Allison Bailes

Glad it was helpful to you, Sam. I know how important access to good information is when you're learning new stuff or trying to keep up in a changing field. Also, with the plethora of websites and info sources available, I know I look for the advice of others when doing research on a topic.

Terry Hill

Are you familiar with the US Passive House Institute (PHIUS). They are introducing the Passivhaus standard to the US, a very energy efficient way to build, that has evolved out of work done in the US and Canada in the 70's and 80's.

Allison Bailes

Yes, Terry, I am familiar with Passive House, and I love the concept. I emailed Mike Kernigan about getting involved a couple of years ago, but I've been spending most of my time in HERS world and haven't had a chance to learn the details of the Passive House protocol yet. Keep reading our blog because I've been meaning to write an article about it and will soon.