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

2018 Was a Big Year for Natural Disasters

The Camp Fire in northern California was the single costliest natural disaster of 2018, according to an insurance report. Worldwide, insured losses from natural disasters were $80 billion last year. (Photo: Cal OES / CC BY-NC / Flickr) Insured losses from natural disasters totaled $80 billion worldwide last year, significantly higher than the 30-year average, a report from reinsurance giant Munich RE said. Earthquakes, floods, tropical cyclones, and two especially devastating wildfires in California all contributed to total economic losses of $160 billion, ranking it among the 10 costliest disaster years and the fourth most expensive for the industry since…


The Fine Print on Energy Efficiency

Have you ever seen one of those big yellow cards on refrigerators, washing machines and other new appliances? These government-mandated notices indicate about how much energy the average U.S. consumer will save by replacing their older model at home with one of these shiny new things. Trouble is, different people use their appliances very differently — so most of us aren’t average consumers. When we researched how behavioral differences varied, we found that Americans use vastly different amounts of energy to light our homes, watch TV, and make toast. As a result, we determined that the money and carbon pollution…


Construction Salaries On the Rise

Salaries for skilled trades were up in 2018, a new survey has found. The construction industry continues to wrestle with labor shortages. (Photo: Keith Ewing / CC BY-NC / Flickr) Average annual salaries for skilled construction workers were up in the three-year period between 2015 and 2018, with at least one job category showing a gain of 20%, a survey from the National Center for Construction Education and Research found. Salary information in 32 job categories was submitted by 132 organizations that represent 353,503 U.S. employees, NCCER said. For an industry that is facing an uphill battle in attracting young…


Statistic of the Year: 90.5 Percent

This year, I served on the judging panel for The Royal Statistical Society’s International Statistic of the Year. On December 18, we announced the winner: 90.5 percent, the amount of plastic that has never been recycled. Okay — but why is that such a big deal? Much like Oxford English Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” competition, the international statistic is meant to capture the zeitgeist of this year. The judging panel accepted nominations from the statistical community and the public at large for a statistic they feel shines a light on today’s most pressing issues. Last year’s winner was 69.…


Ventilation for a Very Small Home

Houses with very low rates of air leakage and heavily insulated walls and roofs don’t allow much natural ventilation. The whole point of building a high-performance house is to control the source and amount of outdoor air that gets inside. That’s why designers typically include some kind of mechanical ventilation, often in the form of a heat-recovery or energy-recovery ventilator (HRVs and ERVs). But as LH has discovered, providing fresh air for a very small house can be a little more complicated, particularly when factoring in a clothes dryer that vents to the outdoors. “When we built our little home…


Green Building Bulletin Board

A GBA reader suggested that we create a regional list of resources for green builders and homeowners. The list will include materials suppliers, consultants, and builders, separated by region. The difficulty in creating such a bulletin board is that small, inexperienced builders will want to add their names to promote their own business. I’m not sure if this bulletin board concept will work, but I decided that it’s worth trying. Here’s how it’s going to work: GBA editors will create the list of resources. GBA readers will suggest additions in the comments section. Not all suggestions will be added to…

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