Human urine collection and use provides a better way to recycle nutrients than use of composting toilets.

by Alex Wilson

Just when you thought it was safe to enjoy this blog over a cup of coffee here’s an article on…urine?

Really?

Let me explain.

A California company, Blue Planet, is reinventing concrete and envisions a world in which the 8 billion tons of concrete used each year sequester billions of tons of carbon dioxide.
Our house cost a lot more than I would have liked, but many of the ideas used in it could be implemented more affordably.
Induction cooktops respond quickly, avoid gas combustion, are tops in energy efficiency, and limit risk of burns. Our induction cooktop blends in well with our matt-black Richlite countertop. Click to enlarge.Photo Credit: Alex Wilson

While a heat-pump water heater will save significant energy on a year-round basis, be aware that in a cold climate the net performance (water heating plus space heating) will drop in the winter.

by Alex Wilson

We chose a heat pump water heater for our new house, and as I've recently discussed here, there are a lot of reasons why you might be doing the same.

Why we opted for electric water heating over a solar water heater.

by Alex Wilson

As we build more energy-efficient houses, particularly when we go to extremes with insulation and air tightness, as with Passive House projects, water heating becomes a larger and larger share of overall energy consumption (see Solar Thermal Hot Water, Heating, and Cooling).

Air sealing and other energy retrofits in our homes can raise or lower radon levels. The only way to know is to test.

 

This blog post first appeared on GreenBuildingAdvisor.com.

Two studies indicate some benefits to using insulated vinyl siding, but more data is needed to win over this skeptic.
To function properly, any ducted HRV has to be balanced after installation Barry Stephens measuring the airflow through a ceiling register of our HRV.Photo Credit: Alex Wilson

 

Predicting performance and rationally selecting window coverings—from awnings to films to cellular shades—is incredibly challenging, but real help is on the way.

There is a lot of interest in just how much (and at how low a price point) window coverings can improve building thermal performance.

Zehnder’s state-of-the-art HRV will provide years of service in providing fresh air with very low energy consumption.

How a green home really “breathes.”

One of the features in our new house that I’m most excited about barely raises an eyebrow with some of our visitors: the ventilation system. I believe we have the highest-efficiency heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) on the market—or at least it’s right up there near the top.

Why ventilate?

Testing the limits of the air-source heat pump in our new house with this cold weather The interior unit of our Mitubishi air-source heat pump. Click photos to enlarge.Photo Credit: Alex Wilson

 

With a new group of online BAC courses starting this week, I’m reminded of the benefits of learning—and teaching—from home. San Francisco Bay Area traffic. Click to enlarge.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Workers entering the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility in 2006.Photo Credit: Isaac Breekken, AP