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Green-building advice that's easy to swallow

A new interactive tool that emphasizes quality practices for builders, architects, designers, and homeowners

What do you get when you give two editors/builders/building-science experts the directive to create a green-building Web site that’s useful to all building-industry professionals? You get the most comprehensive green-building resource available anywhere.

Green Building Advisor (www.greenbuildingadvisor.com), a new Web site from The Taunton Press and BuildingGreen, publishers of Fine Homebuilding and Environmental Building News, opened its cyber doors in January. Former Fine Homebuilding editor Daniel S. Morrison and BuildingGreen’s residential project manager, Peter Yost, pooled their resources and years of hands-on experience to create this interactive tool that emphasizes quality practices for builders, architects, designers, and homeowners.

A majority of the site is free, including “Green Basics,” which will educate those unfamiliar with the principles of green building. It includes a multimedia encyclopedia that covers design, construction, and code issues as they relate to house parts and building systems.

Topics such as heat pumps, radiant floors, and stormwater runoff are discussed in a green-building context. “Green Basics” will give users a knowledge base to use other parts of the site confidently, Morrison says.

Blogs written by GBA’s advisory team covering everything from energy efficiency to business are also free. The advisory team, which includes building-science guru Joseph Lstiburek and FHB contributing editor Mike Guertin, is made up of experts from all over the country in many building-related disciplines. “We want expert opinions from every region of the country because climate is a huge factor when you’re talking about healthful, energy-efficient homes,” says Morrison.

Other free features include case studies of homes, complete with actual energy-use data, as well as a product guide organized by house part.

For an annual fee of $150, members can access the site’s “Strategy Generator” to build a checklist based on the parameters of a specific project. If you’re building a new house in Washington or remodeling a bathroom in Florida, you learn how to build it right for that climate.

Members also gain access to more than 1000 downloadable construction details. These drawings can be dropped into a CAD program or saved and printed as a PDF.

“MyGBA,” a project-management application, allows members to bookmark articles, photos, drawings, and videos. Members also can share how-to instruction, so your framer doesn’t need to be a member to access a rim-joist diagram that you want him to see. Limited access to the “MyGBA” area of the site is available for nonmembers.

Why isn’t the entire site free? “Much of the ‘what’ and ‘why’ information is free, and the ‘how-to’ stuff isn’t,” Morrison says. “We’re working with a National Public Radio-type sponsorship model, which means [that the site has] no advertising. So paid memberships will play an important role in sustaining it.”

From Fine Homebuilding201 , pp. 20-22