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LED Streetlight Conversions Falter

LED streetlights use less energy and should require less maintenance than high-pressure sodium lamps, but at least two U.S. cities have reported premature failure of LED fixtures from a San Jose, California, maker. [Photo credit: Don Harder / CC BY-NC / Flickr] Streetlights using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are designed to last longer and use less energy than conventional lighting, but it’s not working out that way in at least two U.S. cities. Thousands of lamps installed in Detroit have failed prematurely, prompting a federal lawsuit against the manufacturer, The Detroit News reports. The Public Lighting Authority’s suit against Leotek Electronics…


Wingnut Testing of Soffit-to-Ridge Venting, Round 2

In this round of Wingnut testing, a theatrical fogger with a flex duct extension will be used to test stack effect venting on a roof assembly with a 3:12 slope and an 1-inch-deep vent channel. [Photo credit: Alan Benoit, architect] It has been a while since I blogged about my first round of Wingnut roof vent testing, so here is a reminder of the questions that the tests should answer: Does soffit-to-ridge cathedral roof air flow actually follow the nice neat arrows that ridge vent manufacturers show in their brochures? Does the configuration of a manufactured ridge vent make a…


Living Building Challenge Gets an Update

A new level of certification from the International Living Future Institute called Core Green is intended to be a list of attributes that any green building should have. [Image credit: International Living Future Institute] The International Living Future Institute has released a new version of its Living Building Challenge and announced a new certification category called Core Green Building Certification. The Institute said that the changes are intended to simplify what it calls the “world’s most rigorous” performance standard for buildings and to fill a gap between the highest levels of mainstream green building and the lowest rung of the…


Rail Makes Transportation Cleaner

Transportation represents a large portion — about 29%  — of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and the share has been rising in recent years. Rail proponents often argue that investment in trains and public transportation is a key part of making transportation cleaner, and indeed, the Green New Deal calls for greatly expanding high-speed rail. I’m a scholar of rail, and it’s clear to me that the quickest way to decrease greenhouse gases from transportation is to travel by train and move goods by rail instead of on the road or by air. To explain why, it’s worth comparing rail to other…


Tiny House Converts Benefit the Environment

Interest is surging in tiny homes — livable dwelling units that typically measure under 400 square feet. Much of this interest is driven by media coverage claiming that living in tiny homes is good for the planet. It may seem intuitively obvious that downsizing to a tiny home would reduce one’s environmental impact, since it means occupying a much smaller space and consuming fewer resources. But little research has been done to actually measure how people’s environmental behaviors change when they make this drastic move. For my doctorate in environmental design and planning, I sought to fill this gap in knowledge by…


My Windows Were Installed Incorrectly. Now What?

Brian is building a new house in New Jersey and has selected Andersen 400 Series windows. So far, so good. The problem is how the windows have been installed by Brian’s builder. Many of the manufacturer’s installing instructions have been ignored, Brian writes in a Q&A post. The contractor used no caulk, chose Tyvek housewrap tape instead of flashing tape, and failed to overlap the Tyvek by at least 6 inches, as required by the instructions. “It looks like they lined the rough openings with Tyvek and a bit of Vycor Plus flashing at the botton only, then installed the…

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