Paula Melton and Peter Yost discuss their process of writing a feature article about building failure.

Why and how do buildings fail? In this quick video, Paula Melton and Peter Yost discuss what they learned in the process of writing their feature article “How Buildings Fail Their Users.” The article includes seven stories of building failure and lessons learned. Read the feature article.

“We don't just do cellulose; we do it better.”

by Peter Yost

 At the end of my recent blog post on Kooltherm rigid phenolic foam insulation, I mentioned that the roof and wall assemblies at an energy retrofit project in Brattleboro, Vermont, were insulated with cellulose by a company called American Installations.

How can firms develop sustainability knowledge that leads to action? Here are three places to start.

A deep-energy-retrofit project uses Kooltherm as part of a high-performance attic insulation system

by Peter Yost

Improving the thermal performance of an existing attic is often challenging: workers are faced with narrow cavities, low clearances, and cladding systems that make it hard to achieve desired R-values while still maintaining the necessary drying potential of the assembly. The house at 81 Chapin Street in Brattleboro, Vermont, is no exception. It’s a 100-year-old wood-framed two-story home that Candace Pearson and Alex Beck are determined to comprehensively retrofit to high performance.

How Yale University's energy manager uses after-hours walk-throughs to save energy

by Peter Yost

Julie Paquette has been Director of Energy Management at Yale University for about 6 years. That means the buck stops at Paquette’s desk for the energy consumption of over 400 buildings on campus. Yale has a pretty sophisticated approach to energy, including the Yale Facilities Energy Explorer, an energy dashboard system that shows energy consumption and details for every one of those 400 Yale buildings.

Simple ways to measure moisture content deeper into building assemblies

by Peter Yost

Typical pins on moisture meters are ½ inch long, meaning you can only determine moisture content by weight near the surface of building assemblies and materials (including wood, gypsum wallboard, and concrete). But I often find myself needing to assess moisture content of first condensing surfaces in walls and ceilings or well below the surface of basement slabs. This article looks at ways to extend the reach of a moisture meter. (For introductory information on moisture meters, see Tools of the Trade: Moisture Meters.)

Managing the high GWP refrigerants used in refrigeration and HVAC systems is one of our most pressing climate challenges. November’s BuildingGreen Report feature article explains why.

by Brent Ehrlich

Paul Hawken’s book Drawdown looks at a number of strategies that would “reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon within thirty years.” Based on careful analysis, his team concluded that the number-one action we can take to reverse anthropogenic global warming is to manage high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. Wait…what?!

How to use geological, soil, and historical maps to keep your basement dry

by Peter Yost

When we bought our home (built in 1907), I called in a favor from an electrician friend of mine to upgrade the 60-amp to a 100-amp service. Having worked together in New Hampshire where many of our projects were on sites full of ledge, he smirked when he told me: “Here, you go try and drive this 12-foot copper grounding rod!” No more than 10 minutes later I came in and said, “How much of the rod should remain above grade?”

A new focus on embodied carbon and LEED v4 are driving designers to dive deep into what we choose for our buildings

by Nadav Malin

If the number of events on this topic is any indication, 2017 will go down as the year that Greenbuild became all about products. Why? Here’s my take on it:

Simple folded metal solves a common moisture problem

by Peter Yost

I first “learned” about VersaDry when a colleague of mine here at BuildingGreen — our materials and product expert, Brent Ehrlich — sent me the photo reproduced at right.

Early on in our work on energy-efficient homes, the connection between airtightness and sound centered on airport noise; now a new technology reconnects acoustics and air leakage

by Peter Yost

Back in the early days of airport noise mitigation programs, there was a pretty strong link between air leakage and sound.

There is mold on the factory-primed, latex top-coated wood clapboards on the south but not the north side of our house

by Peter Yost

Whenever my wife starts a conversation with, “OK, Mr. Building Scientist,” I know I am in some kind of trouble. That proved to be the case one day when we were out hanging laundry on the south side of our house.

How well do Zip and ForceField sheathing integrate a structural panel with bulk water and air management?

by Peter Yost

There are a lot of different ways to get continuous air and water control layers on the exterior of a building enclosure. You can use housewrap, taped-and-sealed rigid foam insulation, liquid-applied membrane, or either the Huber Zip or Georgia-Pacific ForceField system. Each approach has strengths and weaknesses.

We asked architects how they evaluate someone’s sustainability literacy in a single question.

How do you measure someone’s sustainable design literacy? As we discuss in Sustainable Design Literacy: A Foundation for Transformed Practice, no single exam or other measure tells the whole story.

Architects and designers want to do exceptional, challenging sustainability work. Why are we waiting for the unicorn client?

I regularly speak with architects who would really love to do a Living Building Challenge project, or net-zero, or another progressive project. All they are waiting for is a client to ask for it. So here we remain, stuck in a self-fulfilling pattern that looks a bit like this.