News

Blog Post

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

August 29, 2017

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.

“OK, Mr. Building Scientist, you supposedly worked your moisture magic when you re-sided the house with clapboards... Read more

News Brief

Faster reviews and more industry-friendly risk assessments are among the changes.

August 25, 2017

New chemical reviews are speeding up at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), before newly developed chemicals can be used in the U.S., EPA must review them for safety. Administrator Scott Pruitt recently announced how the agency plans to do this, stating that the rules will... Read more

News Brief

Need examples of water or energy features that successfully challenged local policy? The Code Innovations Database can help.

August 14, 2017

When engineers for the six-story Bullitt Center went to Seattle code officials looking to install composting toilets, success was not assured. Composting toilets don’t follow the letter of the Universal Plumbing Code, and bathrooms with composting toilets aren’t ventilated in the usual way. Yet because of a local ordinance designed to encourage... Read more

News Brief

Many LEED v4 prerequisites and credits are now automatic for projects meeting the CALGreen code.

August 14, 2017

UPDATE: This article was updated on April 19, 2018, to reflect major changes announced by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Commercial building projects and homes in California can now get a huge jumpstart on achieving LEED certification.

New construction, commercial interiors projects, and both single-family and mid-rise... Read more

Blog Post

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

August 7, 2017

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.

During interview: “Let’s not scare them away… we’ll make... Read more

News Brief

The forum invites affordable housing designers to join HBN experts and others to ask questions and share information on material health.

August 2, 2017

The Healthy Building Network’s HomeFree database recently launched an online forum on healthy building materials—an idea exchange that brings together practitioners in affordable housing with HBN’s researchers.

“It is a great place to ask individual questions and be able to get more specific information from the Healthy Building Network... Read more

Product Review

Build Equinox and Minotair Ventilation Inc. (MVI) have updated their heat-pump-based energy recovery ventilation systems, providing better control of humidity, heating, and cooling in a smaller footprint.

August 2, 2017

Balancing indoor air quality and energy consumption in ventilation is no easy task. Bringing in fresh air keeps us healthy and alert, but heating, cooling, and adjusting its humidity (also known as conditioning the air) requires energy, and much of that energy is lost when stale air is vented.

The... Read more

News Brief

With recent and upcoming certifications, the Living Building Challenge breaks out of its boutique building typology.

August 2, 2017

The stereotype of a Living Building has been an environmental education classroom or visitor center that’s not much bigger than the average American house. That stereotype wasn’t too far off during the program’s first five years—until the 10,700 ft2 Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes and the 50,800 ft2 Bullitt Center were certified in... Read more

Product Review

GAF now offers a full line of polyisocyanurate foam insulation that is free of toxic halogenated flame retardants.

August 2, 2017

I first learned about GAF’s new halogen-free polyisocyanurate insulation when I was teaching a workshop on resilient design at the GAF headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey, in March, 2017. Having called for manufacturers to develop such products several years ago (see Getting Flame Retardants Out of Foam Insulation), I am particularly attuned... Read more

Blog Post

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

August 1, 2017

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.

All things... Read more

Blog Post

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?

August 1, 2017

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... Read more

News Analysis

Design plays a key role in helping cities overcome the logistical and social barriers to eliminating waste.

July 25, 2017

An increasing number of U.S. cities have adopted zero waste goals, including San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Austin, Texas.  In New York City, the Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) 0x30 campaign is designed to eliminate landfilled waste by 2030. According to DSNY, New Yorkers generate a total 18,500 tons of waste every day and the city... Read more

Feature Article

Leaky building enclosures create health hazards, comfort problems, and high energy bills. Fixing them isn’t rocket science; but you’d better know your building science.

July 25, 2017

Sealing air leaks in any building can make it more comfortable and efficient. But owners of existing buildings often resist spending the time and money to address the problem. In fact, addressing air leaks in existing buildings is like the Rodney Dangerfield of Rodney Dangerfields. In the words of the late comedian, "they just don’t get no... Read more

Primer

Biomimicry offers a vitalizing framework for reconnecting designers to nature and driving innovation.

July 25, 2017

The term biomimcry literally means the imitation (mīmēsis) of life (bios). At its most basic, the practice of biomimicry is about looking to the natural world and following its lead. By looking to nature and emulating it as the ultimate model of “sustainable design,” architects are drawing from a rich, diverse sourcebook of ideas and solutions... Read more

News Brief

The state has budgeted $30 million to develop a self-sufficient, private sector-based market for deep energy retrofits of multifamily buildings.

July 25, 2017

The goal of RetrofitNY is to transform the state’s building industry over the next decade by driving the development of scalable solutions for deep energy retrofits of large residential buildings. It’s an initiative of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Multifamily Performance Program. RetrofitNY is part of... Read more

Primer

What are the books that all designers should read? This reading list on sustainable design, gathered from experts, is a mini-degree on green building.

July 10, 2017

As a supplement to this month’s feature, Sustainable Design Literacy: A Foundation for Transformed Practice, BuildingGreen has compiled a list of books that can help designers develop and maintain their sustainability knowledge.

The list includes recommendations from sustainable design leaders and educators, as well as some of... Read more

Op-Ed

By making the administration’s position clear, Trump’s decision unleashed a wave of actions to stabilize the climate.

July 10, 2017

When President Donald Trump was equivocating about whether to pull out of the Paris Accord, I fervently hoped he would not. When he announced in early June that the U.S. would walk away from the agreement, I was worried that the global effort to mitigate climate change would be seriously set back.

But now, I’ve changed my mind. In fact... Read more

Blog Post

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

July 10, 2017

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.

We thought about writing our own, holistic, non-LEED-centric version of the LEED AP exam. We quickly recognized, however, that it’s the... Read more

News Brief

The new zero carbon standard is designed to assess carbon emissions from commercial, institutional, and multi-family buildings across Canada.

July 10, 2017

The World Green Building Council launched its Advanced Net Zero project in 2016, with the goal of eliminating carbon emissions from all new buildings by 2030, and from every building by 2050.  Now, the Canada Green Building Council has introduced the first national standard to emerge from that campaign, a certification program focused solely on... Read more

Feature Article

How well does the average designer know sustainable design? And how are the best firms supporting increased knowledge—and action?

July 10, 2017

Good morning, choir.

Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you care more about and know more about sustainability than the average architect or designer. Your “sustainability literacy” is high.

Sustainable design literacy involves the ability to understand the various ways in which a project can impact—negatively or... Read more