Cold weather, when wood stoves are cranked up and portable electric space heaters are brought out of the basement and plugged in, is when most house fires occur Enjoying a wood stove on a cold winter day.Photo Credit: Alex Wilson

Six items on my policy wish-list for 2014 and beyond. Safe bicycle commuting and walking is high on my wish list for 2014.Photo Credit: Yuba Cargo Bikes

Here are some green product developments I’d like to see in the New Year

I spend a lot of time writing about innovations in the building industry—the cool stuff that’s coming out all the time. But I also like to think about what’s needed: stuff that’s not (yet) on the market or performance levels not yet available.

1) Rigid insulation with no flame retardants and insignificant global warming potential

Can we replace foam insulation? What does energy modeling really tell us? Find out what you, our readers, have picked as this year’s top 10 stories!

Our resident number-crunchers have spent hours slaving over metrics to bring you … your own most-read BuildingGreen stories of the year. Ta-da!

Are we going to find the same NIMBY opposition to larger solar systems that we’re experiencing today with wind farms? 
Beacon Power pushing the envelope and creating a more resilient utility grid with large-scale flywheel power storage Schematic of Beacon Power's Energy Smart 25 flywheel.Photo Credit: Beacon Power

A recent memo hints that the Department of Defense will accept Green Globes certification for buildings—but that was already the case.

Biophilia is supposed to be about our innate connection to nature. So where do TV windows and artificial breezes enter in?

I should have known I was in for something unexpected when I walked into this year’s Greenbuild session on “biophilia”—humans’ love of living things—in a dark, windowless auditorium.

Solar Grid Storage is at the forefront of efforts to use renewable energy to create a more resilient utility grid 
Philadelphia’s Navy Yard is achieving robust economic development while demonstrating a wide variety of energy innovations One of the restored, historic buildings at The Navy Yard that serves Urban Outfitters.Photo Credit: Alex Wilson

Producing ethanol from corn is a bad idea not only because of the poor energy return on investment (EROI), but also because of the impact it is having on ecosystems in the Midwest

Microtherm's vacuum insulation panel

For insulating our buildings, vacuum insulation panels may not be cost-effective, but they will become common in other applications Microtherm's vacuum insulation panel, with a microporous substrate covered with an impermeable aluminum skin. Click to enlarge.Photo Credit: Microtherm

With the need for BECx rising, the industry is working to train designers and other specialists to do the job.

 

Owens Corning’s entry into the mineral wool insulation market with the purchase of Thermafiber, promises a higher profile for this insulation material

by Alex Wilson

I recently reported that a new mineral wool insulation product from Roxul can be readily used in place of foam-plastic insulation materials like polystyrene in certain applications.

Urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) has been out of the spotlight, but going into a lot of buildings—often being referred to as Amino Foam.

In working on major updates and expansions to The BuildingGreen Guide to Insulation, we’ve had an opportunity to dig into some of the insulation products out there that you don't hear so much about. Some of what we’re found has been surprising.