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Your Picks: 10 Hottest Green Building Topics of 2013

 Boora ArchitectsCan 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!

We just have to say, you guys have great taste. If you don’t see your favorite article listed here, though, tell us what it is—and why—in the comments.

And don’t forget that BuildingGreen members can collect CEUs—for LEED, AIA, and ILFI—for many of these popular articles. Just read the story, take the quiz, and we do the reporting for you.

10. On the grid, off the grid

Islandable Solar: PV for Power Outages” reveals a conundrum of grid-connected PV: it can’t be used during a power outage! Click through to learn about your three options for greater resilience (and check out #8 too).

9. Say it after me: AH-ge-pahn

Yeah, it’s spelled like “age pan,” but we swear it’s got a lot going for it, starting with German engineering (and pronunciation). Learn more about “Agepan: A Vapor-Permeable, Wood-Based Insulation Board” in our product review.

8. Awesome products!

Last month, we selected our favorite forward-looking products for 2014, and you selected our story as one of the most popular articles of the year. Our choices solve key design and environmental problems, but more importantly, Lloyd Alter called them “sexy”!


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7. Taking charge of our own pee and poop

No, this isn’t about toilet training in the conventional sense, but “Waste Water, Want Water” should help any design team learn about the environmental costs and advantages of onsite wastewater treatment.

6. The future of green building

What should the state of the industry be ten years from now? We don’t know if “Three Imperatives to Create the Future of Green Building” answers that question definitively, but it certainly tries, and a lot of people clearly want to know!

5. Awesome products for LEED v4 projects!

Actually, “Finding Products for LEED v4—A Guide” doesn’t focus much on individual products, in part because manufacturers are still playing catch-up to design some that meet the stricter requirements of the latest generation of LEED. But this article is a perfect intro to the product-related details of v4, if we do say so ourselves.

4. The mismeasure of buildings?

“All models are wrong, but some are useful,” statistician G.E.P Box famously said. “Whole-Building Life-Cycle Assessment: Taking the Measure of a Green Building” starts with Box’s assertion and explores why architects can and should use building LCA—but shouldn’t pay much attention to the decimal places.

3. Why energy models don’t work but we should use them anyway

Speaking of wrong but useful, “Energy Modeling: Early and Often” explores why early-stage energy modeling is crucial, looks at tools for doing it, and provides expert advice about a truly integrative design process that’s improving building performance around the world.

2. Everybody must get stone

In a world where recycled plastic is the ultimate in “green,” maybe it’s time to return to the Stone Age. “Stone, the Original Green Building Material” makes the case that the environmental attributes of this natural, minimally processed material make it a perfect fit for many green buildings.

1. How we learned to stop insulating with plastic and love mineral wool

And…drum roll, please! “Can We Replace Foam Insulation?” is the year’s most popular article. Despite its high performance, foam has problems: it’s made from non-renewable resources, often has huge global warming impacts, and is almost always laden with toxic flame retardants while still being highly flammable. Leading architects shared their stories with us about their struggles—and triumphs—with reducing their use of foam insulation or even eliminating it altogether.

Published December 19, 2013

(2013, December 19). Your Picks: 10 Hottest Green Building Topics of 2013. Retrieved from

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January 30, 2017 - 2:30 pm

I realize this is an older blog but I would like access to the commentary.

January 16, 2014 - 3:22 pm

pretty amazing Bob Dylan reference there :)