927 Lee Road 268, Valley, AL (706) 773-9274

Another Take on a Concrete-Free Slab

Randy Williams of Willcon Inc. recently contacted me regarding a project he is wrapping up in northern Minnesota. I was intrigued because he has eliminated the concrete slab foundation altogether, which, given the material’s carbon load, is a design decision I fully support. There were additional aspects of his approach that were equally interesting, including his use of cutting-edge products in a residential building market generally unfamiliar with them; his success building directly off insulated concrete forms (ICFs); and his choice of a plenum truss for running duct work. To inform his decisions, Williams had several conversations with Steve Baczek…


Washington City Ponders a Future Without Gas Heat

A climate task force in Bellingham, Washington, is advancing a long-range plan that would compel city homeowners to stop using natural gas for heating as part of an effort to erase the city’s carbon footprint. A number of communities around the country have approved bans on gas service in new residential construction. But Bellingham, a city of about 90,000 people 85 miles north of Seattle, would apparently become the first in the country to force a wholesale conversion of homes, new and old, from natural gas to electric heat pump technology. The plan was described in an article published by…


For Now, the U.S. Green Economy Is Thriving

The green economy in the U.S. is an economic powerhouse, generating more than $1.3 trillion a year and employing 9.5 million people. But the U.S. position as a world leader is precarious. Photo courtesy of Karsten Würth. While President Donald Trump may be “the world’s most powerful climate change denier,” our latest research suggests that he took over over a thriving green economy. According to new data, by 2016 it was generating more than $1.3 trillion in annual revenue and employed approximately 9.5 million people–making it the largest green market in the world. It’s been growing rapidly too– between 2013 and…


Details for Insulating a Slab Perimeter

In New Hampshire, Chris Roche is pulling together plans for a new energy-efficient home. The slab-on-grade design calls for double-stud walls insulated with dense-packed cellulose, what Roche believes is the most economical and practical approach for getting the walls to R-40, or beyond. Roche has paused at an important detail: the layer of rigid foam insulation that separates the concrete foundation wall on the outside from the slab on the inside. Roche writes in a recent Q&A post that just about every foundation design for a slab that he’s seen either puts all of the rigid insulation on the outside…


The Perfect Weather for a Dehumidifier

What is the perfect weather for a dehumidifier? That dehumidifier you see in the photo above is in the Energy Vanguard office here in Decatur, Georgia. The compressor doesn’t come on often, but this past week I’ve heard it running quite a bit. Depending on where you’re from, you may be thinking, “Yeah, it’s always humid in the South. I don’t know how you people can stand it.” Or you may be thinking, “Wait a minute, it’s January. You shouldn’t need a dehumidifier in the Atlanta area in January.” The latter statement is the one that aligns with our reality…


It’s Not that Hard… Or Is It?

Editor’s note: This is the first post of a new GBA Prime blog “It’s Not that Hard,” by Andy Engel. With a wide range of experience in the building trades and a couple of decades covering home building as an editor at Fine Homebuilding and Professional Deck Builder, as well a presenting at JLC live and writing books for the Taunton Press, Andy has a unique view. He’s practical, smart, and still passionate about building, so we’re excited to see what he will bring to GBA in his bi-weekly posts. By way of an introduction, we’ve made his first post…

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