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.

Of course the best way to waterproof any below-grade assembly is from the exterior—but what works if you have to go from the interior?

by Peter Yost

Negative-side waterproofing (NSW) is a tough topic that I have frankly been dancing around for quite some time. Manufacturer claims and homeowner anecdotes of successful interior waterproof solutions for basement walls and slabs did not completely add up. But I did not think that I understood the topic or the physics well enough to challenge the claims or explain my skepticism.

What I learned from the University of Wisconsin's “Commissioning Building Enclosure Assemblies and Systems” course

by Peter Yost

I have been advising architects and builders on high-performance design, materials, and construction — particularly for residential buildings — for many years. But to do this work on commercial buildings, a building science training and credentialing program seemed really important (yet elusive).

Where did the water and blue-green staining on this fireplace support column come from?

by Peter Yost

A new client called me, saying that his insulation contractor urged him to contact me about some moisture problems in the home before they actually embarked on a major energy upgrade. (That was gratifying.) Many years ago the home had been moved off of a failing rubble foundation to a new concrete masonry unit (CMU) foundation on a different site.

TEC did its homework: its new blower door package is a well-engineered and integrated equipment system

by Peter Yost

I don’t do blower door work every day, but I do enough of it to appreciate the attention to detail that The Energy Conservatory (TEC) built into its new blower door kit. I have used both TEC and Retrotec blower door kits and found them trustworthy and rugged.

We asked sustainability professionals what message they would put on a billboard. Here’s what we heard.

“If you could put one simple message on a billboard, what would it say?” During the recent BuildingEnergy conference in Boston, BuildingGreen set up a camera at our booth and asked sustainable design and building professionals this question.

Our interviewees ranged from a professor of sustainable design, to a sustainability manager at an architecture firm, to a green home builder, to a creator of an online green building directory.