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

Why We Need Building Sensors

My friend Jake has a great saying: “Trust but verify.” In terms of building, this means we can exercise our skills in material choices and how we assemble them to make something that we believe wholeheartedly will work. But unless we take some sort of step to actually measure and quantify performance, how will we ever be sure? How will we ever diagnose? How will we ever improve? Sure, we can wait for something to fail and forensically explore what went wrong, or we can cross our fingers and hope, but I’d rather be a bit more pragmatic. We’re at…

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Passive House 2021+ Now Offers a Streamlined Prescriptive Path to Certification

The latest Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) standard is now available for review, with a public comment period open through December 7, and an expected release early next year. Although I have been a Passive House rater for about 10 years, the lack of interest in my area (Atlanta, Climate Zone 3) has kept me from completing any projects. Cost has been an issue with single-family homes. In addition to the high cost of custom construction, there’s the required services of a Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) and the necessary WUFI modeling, which can put the cost of PHIUS certification out…

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Speeding the Spread of New, Clean-Energy Technologies

To address climate change over the coming decades, all nations will need to transition to energy resources that emit less carbon. This transformation, already underway, will require many new technologies. The United States is a world leader in scientific research and technological development. But new inventions have to be brought to market and then widely adopted to have a deep impact. And in the clean energy field, the United States doesn’t do as well at making that happen as one might be expect, given its strength in basic research. The energy transition might stall if the U.S. doesn’t overcome this…

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At Long Last, a Truly Final 2021 Energy Code

It’s been a long time coming, but we now have a final 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for new residential and commercial buildings, following the uncertainty created by appeals that sought to overturn more than 20 of the proposals voted into the code by governmental officials. While there will still be significant energy efficiency gains—including options for constructing zero-energy homes and commercial buildings—builders and industry groups were successful in getting the most innovative and forward-looking proposals overturned, which means higher consumer costs and carbon emissions. The appeals process, brought on by those builders and industry groups unhappy with the…

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Dual-Flush Toilets Called Water Wasters in U.K.

Dual-flush toilets in the U.K., designed to save water with a two-stage flushing mechanism, typically come with flush valves that are so leaky that the toilets waste more water than they save, a water company there claims. The toilets give homeowners two flushing options, one for solid waste and one for liquid waste, offering potential water savings every time the liquid-only button is pressed. But the type of valve installed in these toilets is prone to leaks, which collectively add up to 400 million liters (about 106 million U.S. gallons) a day, according to a water efficiency advocacy group there…

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Fine-Particle Air Pollution on the Decline

Air pollution contributes to as many as 9 million premature deaths worldwide each year—twice as many as war, other violence, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Fine particulate matter air pollution is especially dangerous: Microscopic particles readily enter the lungs, bloodstream and brain, with health effects that include infant death, reduced life expectancy for adults, cancer, lung disease and heart disease Fine particle matter pollution concentrations in the United States have declined by roughly 70% since 1981. However, in a newly published study, we show that the areas that were most polluted in 1981 are still the most polluted today, and…

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