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Flatrock Passive: Essentials for a Winter Greenhouse

Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of blog posts by David Goodyear describing the construction of his new home in Flatrock, Newfoundland, the first in the province built to the Passive House standard. You’ll find his complete blog here. After the subterranean heating and cooling system, or SHCS was installed, back-filled, and lightly tamped, it was time to place the various services. Services?, you might ask. What kind of services could a greenhouse possibly need? Keep in mind that this is not just a greenhouse. It is a four-season greenhouse. It has the potential to grow food three…


Bans on Plastic Bags Can Backfire

Bans on single-use plastic bags can have unintended consequences. Redesigned carryout bags or bag fees might be more successful at reducing plastic use. Photo: Peteruetz / Wikimedia Governments are increasingly banning the use of plastic products, such as carryout bags, straws, utensils, and microbeads. The goal is to reduce the amount of plastic going into landfills and waterways. And the logic is that banning something should make it less abundant. However, this logic falls short if people actually reuse those items instead of buying new ones. For example, so-called “single-use” plastic carryout bags can have a multitude of unseen second…


Fiberglass Is Still Home Builders’ Number One Insulation Choice

The Home Innovation Research Labs (HIRL) does an annual survey of home builders that includes what types of homes they are building and how they are building them. The results of their 2019 survey of the homes built in 2018 are out now, and they recently published an interesting article about the breakdown of different insulation materials used by home builders. Before we talk about the implications, let’s see what they found. Here’s the pie chart showing the different insulation materials builders are installing in single family homes. (The SF in the title below stands for “single family.”) Insulation materials…


Tech Company Promises a Village of Printed Houses

This demonstration house was printed in Austin, Texas, last year. An updated version of the 3-D printer will be used to build houses in a poor Latin American community this year, its developer says. Photos courtesy of ICON. A Texas construction technology company says it has developed a 3D printer that will be used later this year to build a cluster of houses in an impoverished Latin American community as the experimental equipment graduates to real-world use. The project will pair the Austin-based company ICON with a California nonprofit called New Story that has been building houses in the region…


Finally, the Fine Homebuilding Summit!

For as long as I have worked with Fine Homebuilding magazine, GreenBuildingAdvisor.com, and KeepCraftAlive.org, we have wanted to hold an event that brings leading industry experts—a mix of architects, builders, engineers, and building scientists—together with our readers and members, who are often just as knowledgeable and experienced. That means this event is more than 15 years in the making, and I’m sure the idea was around before my time at The Taunton Press. This October, FHB, GBA, and KCA will be holding the first ever Fine Homebuilding Summit in Southbridge, Mass. The Presenters The list of presenters is full of…


Choosing an Air Barrier and a Housewrap

In the midst of framing his new house, Joe Norm has switched gears and opted out of Zip System sheathing in favor of CDX plywood. The question he faces now is how he should air seal the exterior side of the walls—tape the seams between sheets of plywood, or tape the seams of the water-resistive barrier (WRB) he installs over the sheathing? More to the point, will a common WRB like DuPont’s Tyvek be good enough, or should he be prepared to spend more on an “exotic” product? “I priced out VaproShield IT and it looks to be 3x the cost…

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