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Maine and Oregon Address the Problem of Packaging Waste

This post originally appeared at The Conversation, and was co-authored by Jessica Heiges and Kate O’Neill. Most consumers don’t pay much attention to the packaging that their purchases come in, unless it’s hard to open or the item is really over-wrapped. But packaging accounts for about 28% of U.S. municipal solid waste. Only some 53% of it ends up in recycling bins, and even less is actually recycled: According to trade associations, at least 25% of materials collected for recycling in the U.S. are rejected and incinerated or sent to landfills instead. Local governments across the U.S. handle waste management,…


Converted Shipping Containers Provide Safety During the Pandemic

This article originally appeared in the United States Green Building publication, USGBC+ magazine. Photos courtesy of Studio 804. It was a confluence of factors that led to the retrofitting of 12 shipping containers to serve as private housing for people experiencing homelessness during a pandemic. Located at the Lawrence Community Shelter, 45 minutes from Kansas City, Missouri, Monarch Village is a response to the need for quarantining. When COVID-19 hit, the shelter’s congregate housing (a large warehouse filled with bunk beds) made isolating impossible, which compounded the health safety risks to the already-vulnerable population. Meanwhile, Dan Rockhill was looking for his…


The BS* + Beer Show: Building Diagnostics in New Construction

This episode of the BS* + Beer show features guests Steve Rogers and Jake McAlpine of The Energy Conservatory, and Bryan Uhler of Pioneer Builders discussing “Building Diagnostics in New Construction.” They share real-world scenarios in which diagnostic technologies have helped solve problems; and they touch on ways to identify leaky ducts and types of leaks, how to direct air for better comfort, when to run a blower-door test during a build, and zonal pressure diagnostics. They also share what is in their tool kits, and when and how to combine technologies. The takeaway: Using diagnostic tools can lead to…


Updated Climate Zone Map Reflects Warming Trend

Warming temperatures have prompted changes in a climate-zone map used to set energy efficiency requirements across the U.S. The familiar multi-colored map showing seven temperature zones in the continental U.S. is published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). It’s used by the International Code Council (ICC) to recommend requirements for insulation, windows, and other features in low-rise residential buildings. Acting on data related to a changing climate that has brought warmer conditions to much of the country, ASHRAE determined in 2013 that roughly 400 of the nation’s 3000 counties should be assigned to a new…


Zonal Pressure Diagnostics, Part III

This article was originally published by the HVAC School; it has been slightly edited. It is the last in a three-part series. I am picking up where I left off in part 2 of the series, where I discussed how a pressure reading from an attached zone indicates only the ratio of the collective size of the leaks between the zone and the envelope with relation to the collective size of the leaks between the zone and outdoors (and vice versa). In other words, a zonal pressure diagnostic (ZPD) reading by itself does not tell us if a zone is…


Home Data Logging

This is the first post in a four-part series covering the topic of data logging in terms of Types of Monitoring, Products and Performance, and Indoor Air Quality. “Data logging” is a term used to describe the recording of information about a home’s interior conditions—such as temperature and humidity—using a little device designed for this purpose. (I am partial to Onset Hobo loggers.) Logging allows us to solve several types of problems that are hard to analyze. We can see things that happen only late in the evening or early in the morning—the times when heating and air conditioning systems…

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