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Tesla Unveils Another Version of Its Solar Roof

Tesla is now taking orders for the latest version of its solar roof. Installation should begin later this month. Photo courtesy of Tesla. Tesla’s solar roof—the breakthrough that seems perpetually right around the corner—is now in its third and most promising iteration and should be ready for installation in the coming weeks, the company’s CEO says. In a conference call with reporters late last month, Elon Musk admitted that earlier versions of the long-delayed solar roofing tiles “really didn’t work,” according to an article posted at Quartz. But the newest glass-topped tiles are larger, easier to install, and have higher…

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Critics Claim Agreement Helps Home-Building Industry Block Tougher Energy Codes

An undisclosed pact between the nation’s most powerful home builders’ lobby and the organization that writes model building codes has slowed the adoption of energy-saving requirements for new homes, critics have claimed. The arrangement is between the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which represents some 140,000 U.S. builders, and the International Code Council (ICC), which publishes the International Residential Code, an influential model building code that has been adopted in many states. In a published report last week, The New York Times said a deal first signed in 2002 guaranteed NAHB four of 11 voting seats on the committee…

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Solving a Basement Odor Problem

Henry has completed a basement renovation at his 1950s Toronto bungalow and is now grappling with an unexpected problem: One room of the house smells strongly of old, damp brick. From all appearances, the renovation was done carefully. The foundation wall, consisting of concrete block with brick above, now includes exterior waterproofing, damp-proofing membranes, and a layer of closed-cell spray polyurethane foam in an interior 2×4 wall. And yet, he writes in a Q&A post, all is not well. The odor is coming from the floor and/or wall of one of the rooms in the northeast part of the house,…

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Can Buildings Take Vacation Too?

This question has come up several times in the last few years: what sort of moisture issues do we need to be concerned about if a building is “shut down” for an extended period of time? First, let’s make sure we are all on the same page about what it means to “shut down” a home. I have been asked about all three of these scenarios: Complete, intentional shutdown: In this scenario there are no occupants living in the home for an extended period of time. Both power and water are turned off and the building is prepped with all water…

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Frugal Happy: Drywall, Flooring and a Loft

Editor’s Note: This post is one of a series by Chris Stratton and Wen Lee, a husband-and-wife team living in the Los Angeles area who are turning their 1963 suburban house into an all-electric, zero-net-energy home. They chronicle their attempts at a low-carbon, low-cost, and joyful lifestyle on their blog Frugal Happy. This post was written by Wen. All photos courtesy of the authors. This is the second installment of our massive catch up to bring our posts up to the present(ish) date. While each of these topics deserves its own detailed post, we unfortunately don’t have time to do them…

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Energy Policy Group Targets Biomass

The Drax Power Station in England, the country's largest. The plant has converted four of its six boilers from coal to wood and imports wood pellets from the U.S. Southeast. Photo by Ian Britton / CC BY-NC 2.0 / Flickr A push for wood-burning power plants has eased in the U.S., but the use of wood pellets to produce electricity is flourishing elsewhere and remains a serious environmental threat, an energy policy advocacy group warns. Writing in the New York Review of Books, Mary S. Booth said the use of forest biomass as a replacement for coal is increasing the…

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