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In Order To Be Green, An Economy Must Be Fair First

Yellow Vest protests in France have been prompted by a sense of social inequality, not a rejection of a green economy. Photo credit: vfutscher / CC BY-NC / Flickr This post originally appeared at Ensia. The gilets jaunes protests in France are a visible—and violent—symbol of a general malaise that has spread to many Western democracies: a gulf of understanding between governing elites and disaffected voters. Many outside of France were quick to characterize this organic street movement as fundamentally anti-environmental, a popular rejection of French President Emmanuel Macron’s climate and green energy policies. It’s true that two of the…


A Welcome Disruption: How Prefab Construction Savings could Transform the Industry White Paper

A Welcome Disruption: How Prefab Construction Savings could Transform the Industry White Paper | 2019-08-21 | Walls & Ceilings This website requires certain cookies to work and uses other cookies to help you have the best experience. By visiting this website, certain cookies have already been set, which you may delete and block. By closing this message or continuing to use our site, you agree to the use of cookies. Visit our updated privacy and cookie policy to learn more. This Website Uses CookiesBy closing this message or continuing to use our site, you agree to our cookie policy. Learn…


Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral (Part II)

In part I of this blog, we looked at some puzzling examples of unidentified substances from buildings I have investigated over the years and discussed how sometimes it is challenging to determine whether what looks like something that is growing on various surfaces of buildings is actually alive, dead, or neither. In my work, I came across a guru of unidentified substances, Russ Crutcher of MicroLab Northwest. I decided to interview Crutcher as a way of addressing the puzzles presented in Part I. If you are just interested in the results of Crutcher’s work, browse this blog’s  and take a…


Minnesota Homestead: Energy Planning for a Net-Zero Home

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of posts describing the construction of a net-zero energy house in Rochester, Minnesota, by Tracee Vetting Wolf, Matt Vetting, and their son Max. You can find their complete blog here. A list of their previous posts appears at the bottom of this column. Before starting our net-zero house, we rented a 2,165-square-foot house built in the late ’90’s. The house has two levels, four bedrooms, and two bathrooms. The lower level of the house is one-half to three-quarters below ground, with the master bedroom and the kitchen on the upper level. A portion…


Let’s Solve This Insulation Puzzle

Writing from Long Island, New York, Joe C describes repairs that he’s been making to his house to correct water and insect damage. Two of the four walls of the room are exterior walls, and Joe is concerned that thermal bridging through the new framing he’s adding significantly degrade energy performance. “With all the extra studs, I’m concerned there will be a lot of thermal bridging,” he says in a Q&A post. “To counteract this I’m considering installing rigid foam [insulation] on the interior side of the wall framing.” For reference, on the outside of the studs is a layer…


How to Look at a House like a Building Scientist (Part 1: Air)

This article is the first in a three-part series on how to use various diagnostic tools to sleuth out problems in buildings. The work I do for Building Science Corporation (Joe Lstiburek’s company, for those who don’t know) involves forensic investigations of moisture-related (or similar) building failures—in other words, sleuthing out problems in buildings. Despite the fancy name, this typically involves crawling around the bowels of commercial and residential buildings to look at the problem areas and determine the causes. These problems may include strange odors that seem to emanate out of nowhere, windows that leak water during rainstorms, indoor…

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