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Solar Decathlon Names Student Design Winners

An entry from Virginia Tech called TreeHAUS was named the top winner in this year's Solar Decathlon Design Challenge. The modular design is intended to help solve a developing housing shortage at the school's Blacksburg, Virginia, campus. [Image credit: John DeLa Rosa / Solar Decathlon] Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was named the overall winner in this year’s Solar Decathlon Design Challenge hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Virginia Tech was one of 45 teams entered in the competition, which was held over the weekend of April 12-14 in Golden, Colorado. Students and their faculty advisors worked over the…

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If You Are Flying, You Should Be Buying Carbon Offsets

Buying carbon offsets to mitigate the impact of air travel won't reverse climate change, but it will do some good. A few caveats apply. [Image credit: Ryan Greenberg / CC BY-NC / Flickr] This post originally appeared at Ensia. You desperately want to book that flight for the family wedding. But the frightening Fourth National Climate Assessment released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program in November has flipped on the guilt switch for you. Climate change used to be a faint background murmur you could ignore when there were fun places to go. But November’s report is clear: It’s…

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America Can Afford a New Green Deal — Here’s How

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey are calling for a “Green New Deal” that would involve massive government spending to shift the U.S. economy away from its reliance on carbon. Their congressional resolution goes into great detail about the harms of climate change and what the U.S. government should do about it. Left unanswered, however, is how America would pay for the proposed deal. Some commentators have been calling a Green New Deal unaffordable, with some estimates putting the bill for complete decarbonization at as high as $12.3 trillion. As the author of the United Nations Environment Program’s Global Green New…

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Passive House Conference Opens in New York on June 27

A Passive House certified dormitory at an Australian university is one of the topics for discussion at the upcoming Passive House conference in New York City. [Image credit: JCB Architects] A Passive House certified mass timber dormitory at Australia’s largest university is among the projects on the program for the North American Passive House Network (NAPHN) conference in New York City in June. The six-story dorm on the campus of Monash University in Melbourne has room for 150 students and was built with cross-laminated timber (CLT) components. The 70,000-square-foot building is the largest of its kind in the country to…

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Saving Sustainably: Installing the Ventilation System

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of blogs detailing the construction of a net-zero energy house in Point Roberts, Washington, by an owner-builder with relatively little building experience. A list of Matt Bath’s GBA articles can be found at the bottom of this page. You’ll find Matt Bath’s full blog, Saving Sustainably, here. If you want to follow project costs, you can keep an eye on a budget worksheet here. Not too many people have heard of an ERV (energy-recovery ventilator) or the very similar HRV (heat-recovery ventilator). These machines are relatively new to residential buildings so you would be…

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Insulating a Raised Slab

Planning a new house in Pender County, North Carolina, Jason Dennis finds the aesthetics of a crawlspace appealing, but not the potential problems. Instead, he’s thinking of pouring a slab over compacted fill inside his foundation walls — a raised slab. The Climate Zone 3 house will be a simple rectangle, 50 feet by 39 feet, with a wraparound porch on two sides. Dennis wants to know whether the raised slab approach is a good idea, and how such a foundation should be insulated. “Would insulating the slab be necessary for my climate zone?” Dennis asks in a Q&A post.…

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