ScottGEast Waterboro, ME, US
Developers announce plans for "energy neutral" and "solar standard" communities. Both are located in Austin, where the city council is pushing for more renewable energy.
A roundup of recent developments in green building
A new study says the government is way off in its estimates of how much garbage is going into landfills, so methane emissions are higher than previously thought
An end to residential tax credits for solar systems is likely to mean sharp declines in installations, but there's no agreement in the industry on how to preserve it
In its first-ever design competition, the Passive House Institute US announces winners in four categories
A proposed amendment would allow power-purchase agreements in the state for the first time. Utility-backed opponents have their own plan.
An Oregon mill becomes the country's first manufacturer of cross-laminated panels as interest grows in using wood to build commercial structures
Construction is to begin in October on a 276-unit project in Kansas City, Mo., with the developer hoping to show influential investors a different housing future
Web-connected thermostats and locks could save apartment owners time and money, and attract renters at the same time
The organization's current chief operating officer will take the reins when the current CEO leaves his post
A 50-unit project nearing completion will provide housing for some of the city's most needy citizens. This 'Housing First' effort also will save a lot of public money.
The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation has developed a program for tracking real-time energy use, and it offers the system to anyone who wants it
Researchers are developing new materials to replace rare-earth elements. Steep cost reductions are possible.
Two builders collaborate on a 60-unit subdivision where 610-sq.-ft. houses start at $129,900 and solar panels mean free heat
Government and tribal representatives release a guide to help revive sustainable-building practices for tribal housing
The Hawaiian home is the first in the state to be certified under the newest version of LEED
The North American Passive House Network publishes a free e-book that explains what this building technique is all about
The Passivhaus-certified home has won a preliminary Housing Innovation Award from the Department of Energy and is now in the running as a finalist
Project Sunroof estimates the amount of available rooftop space for solar panels, and how much energy they would generate
A university study finds pellets stored in homes do not seem to off-gas dangerous levels of carbon monoxide
The structures are made from steel-skinned panels and metal frames. High hopes, but no paying customers yet.
They will spend two years in prison in connection with the death of a day laborer who was killed when an excavation collapsed
The decision signals more competition in the market for smart-home products, and may be good news of rival ecobee
This guide details high-performance 2x framing with an emphasis on air-tightness and foam-free assemblies
Builders in four provinces independently search for the best route to affordable net-zero construction and come up with surprisingly similar answers
Speakers will discuss a variety of building types for different climate zones
This year's PHIUS conference is in Chicago on Sept. 11 and 12
The environmental advocacy group claims its 200th coal-plant closure under its Beyond Coal campaign
Stricter building codes help, but vehicle fuel-economy standards accounted for the most energy savings in calendar 2014.
Internet-connected smart thermostats are no longer an oddity as they become the norm rather than the exception
When properly installed and air-sealed, all type of insulation perform about the same, an updated report says. The search continues for a successor to R-value.
Canada tops the list for certified space in projects outside the United States in the second annual international rankings list.
A federal judge in Chicago has rejected arguments from a suburban grassroots group that opposes the devices on constitutional grounds.
As a federal investigation of its Chinese-made flooring continues, the company says it has opened its first retail outlet built to LEED standards.
High frequency vibrations, not heat, dry clothes much faster and with much less energy that conventional appliances. Huge energy savings would be possible.
A plan announced this week would make it easier for low- and middle-income families to lower energy bills with renewables
After a dozen years at the helm, Rick Fedrizzi announced he will leave his post by the end of next year.
Environmental groups challenge assumptions used to justify biomass fuel while economists lambaste federal weatherization program
A startup company proposes to use pressurized water and old gas and oil wells as part of a system that stores energy
A report from the Healthy Building Network finds levels of lead in vinyl flooring made with recycled plastics that can be alarmingly high
The tower on Roosevelt Island in New York City will be 270 ft. tall and contain 350 housing units. Its metal wall panels will be prefabricated off site.
The pamphlet offers basic advice to homeowners who are considering the purchase or lease of a photovoltaic system. Consumer warnings follow complaints some homeowners have been misled.
Massive deployment of solar resources will be a key part of holding off global climate change, but research, more investment, and policy changes are still needed.
The storage system in Boothbay, Maine, is designed to reduce loads on the utility's grid during times of high summer demand and avoid the cost of new transmission lines.
A Home Energy Score is designed to tell homeowners and homebuyers how energy efficient a house might be, and how to improve performance.
In advance of the state's 2020 requirement for net-zero energy residential building, a collaboration of public and private interests studies 20 test houses.
An annual survey finds solar and wind are the most important energy sources for the future, but most aren't planning any purchases in the near term.
Now in its second year, the design competition attracted teams from 33 U.S. and Canadian universities.
New blowing agents will give extruded polystyrene and spray polyurethane foam lower global-warming potential. But an industry switch is not right around the corner.
After use, these specially designed bottles are squashed flat and turned into roofing tiles for low-income people.
A manufacturers trade association and the U.S. Department of Energy will share costs to develop ratings for window attachments.
A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council pegs the loss at $19 billion a year, the equivalent of the electricity produced by 50 power plants.
A third neighborhood at EcoVillage at Ithaca includes the largest cluster of Passive House certified single-family homes in the U.S.
An initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council selects the school from among 40 that were nominated worldwide
The chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee introduces 17 bills covering a range of energy issues. One focus is residential solar and wind.
The move follows claims the retailer was selling flooring with formaldehyde levels that are too high to meet California emissions rules.
Scientists and health experts warn that a class of chemicals used in thousands of products may pose health risks and warrant further study.
The electric-vehicle manufacturer plans to offer two versions of a lithium-ion battery for home use. Sungevity announces its own plan.
The North Carolina Green Building Council certifies its 1000th home under the Green Built North Carolina program.
The California community approves code changes that will require all new buildings be ready for solar panels and gray-water irrigation
The developer who built the city's first Passive House-certified single-family home tries his hand on a different kind of property.
While communities around the country mull bans on plastic grocery sacks, Arizona has a new law prohibiting bans or extra fees.
Routine jobs such as installing new faucets and television sets are part of a $400 billion industry that's just waiting to be developed.
The flooring retailer is offering consumers test kits to check formaldehyde exposure, but a lawsuit alleges the kits are "inherently unreliable."
The Department of Energy's 'Building Science Translator' is aimed at helping builders of high-performance homes explain the benefits to potential buyers.
A new report finds that even with cheaper solar panels and more battery options, leaving the grid probably doesn't make sense.
The German-based organization has introduced two new levels of compliance as it seeks to incorporate renewable energy into the mix.
A coalition of construction trade groups says the government is way off base in its predictions of how much a proposed rule on exposure to crystalline silica will really cost
A new report pegs the cost of sprawl at $1 trillion a year in increased per capita land use and higher transportation costs
Devices that can track particulates and other air pollutants at home are beginning to find their way to market.
Five years after a state-owned company was ordered to pay for damages, the company resurfaces with money for some plaintiffs.
A new study says leaks in New York City apartment buildings waste thousands of dollars annually in lost heat.
Developers hope a Minneapolis multifamily project will win partial certification under the Living Building Challenge even as they realize full certification is well out of reach
The student-built project now has the numbers to back its claims for energy and water efficiency.
The free session will cover the use of fire-protective membranes in residential floor systems.
Using a new type of compressor, they hope to reduce energy consumption by about 40%, to less than 1kwh per day.
Two federal health agencies warn stone fabricators that exposure to crystalline silica can cause serious disabling and sometimes fatal disease.
In need of a new home, a Montessori school in Belfast is raising money for a $1.2 million school that would open in time for fall classes.
Production continues its 50-year trend upward, but millions of pounds of plastics end up in landfills and the oceans. Post-consumer recycling remains anemic.
Every one of the 1800 housing units will be heated and cooled by a ground-source heat pump.
The new emissions standards, which will be phased in over time, also cover indoor and outdoor boilers, forced-air furnaces and pellet stoves.
The minimum efficiency will rise to 92% under a Department of Energy plan, so you say "so long" to conventional furnaces. The rules would take effect in 2021.
Organized by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, this annual event includes workshops, speakers, and a trade show.
Illinois tops national rankings for certified commercial and industrial space for the second year running
The smart thermostats are pricey, but three studies back the manufacturer's claims of energy savings.
The restaurant chain studies the feasibility of opening net-zero restaurants in three U.S. cities. Though possible, it's no easy feat.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has doled out $1.7 million in fines to a Wisconsin-based furniture maker, citing a long record of safety violations and injuries among workers.
The Department of Energy wants to dump pilot lights that burn continuously in gas fireplaces and to bring on more-efficient fluorescent lamps.
The Georgia Legislature is considering a bill that would allow third-party ownership for solar electric systems. In Florida, a citizens' group is seeking to overturn a ban at the ballot box.
Signs must be posted at houses where roof trusses have been used so that firefighters have a better idea of what to expect in case of fire.
Minnesota becomes the fourth state in the country to require fire sprinklers in some new houses, but a builders' association has gone to court in an attempt to delay the new law.
The new rule is aimed at weeding out the 'wild assertions' that fringe manufacturers make about the efficiency of their wind generators.
Regulators permit utilities to settle accounts monthly rather than annually, and pay the wholesale rather than the retail rate. Existing customers are grandfathered for 10 years.
The order affects only a small percentage of the millions of meters that have been installed. In Maine, critics appeal a ruling that the meters are safe.
A utility on Kauai turns to lithium-ion batteries after its first try with lead-acid batteries fails to meet expectations. Another Hawaiian utility tweaks its net-metering rules.
Interconnected devices for the home are getting a lot of attention at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Researchers looking at sales records of nearly 23,000 homes have concluded that buyers are willing to pay $15,000 more for a house with an average-size photovoltaic system.
In Maine's southernmost town, plan on spending a couple of days in line if you want to be sure of snagging a building permit.
Separate groups of representatives have approached two federal agencies with questions about sales pitches from solar leasing companies. Are consumers getting a square deal?
The Department of Energy hopes to see a 5% market share for zero-energy-ready homes by the year 2020.
A new model, available later this year, will work with either Apple or Android devices. The price has not been announced.
The governor wants the state to get half of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030 and make both vehicles and buildings more energy efficient
The company says the new insulating agent and refrigerant has a drastically lower global-warming potential than industry standards.
A researcher finds strict building codes in California have failed to lower energy consumption while adding thousands to construction costs
Warning that radon kills thousands of people annually, the government agency urges more people to test their homes
Researchers explore how age affects attitudes about a more interactive electric grid: saving money vs. saving energy
In one recent study, researchers in Canada reviewed more than 7000 property sales before arriving at their conclusion
Duties are intended to protect U.S. panel manufacturers from unfair trade practices, but not everyone in the solar industry is cheering
Details make the difference, and videos posted by Hammer & Hand show how high-performance houses are put together.
A new online book offers details on how to bring historic masonry buildings up to modern efficiency standards without ruining their character.
In Lancaster, all new houses will be required to have "recycle-ready" plumbing systems beginning in 2015
An analysis of thousands of solar homes shows output peaks hours before utilities could really use it
The German-based Passivhaus Institut says there are now 1 million square meters of certified space on the planet
A Vermont couple builds a retirement home bristling with new technology, and they discover it's never too late for change
A New Jersey lawmaker proposes state grants to build very small houses for low-income families
An attorney in Pennsylvania buys a fixer-upper and begins repairs only to be cleaned out by a property-management company in an apparent property mixup. His reaction: See you in court.
A New Mexico builder updates the work of his father with a new and improved project nearly 40 years after the original. It's still 'the place with the tubes.'
A Boston-based research lab has developed a photovoltaic system designed for installation by homeowners as easily as a new washer/dryer.
The retailer issues a new warning connected with the massive electronic breach earlier this year: Beware of phishing.
The redesigned site offers easier access to an extensive library on building materials and the design/build process.
The new Friends School of Portland in Maine will become one of a handful of Passivhaus school buildings in the country when it's completed next June
The annual survey finds states have generally made it easier for consumers to generate their own electricity. But some states still get failing grades.
In Arizona, the Department of Health Services says its review shows smart meters aren't likely to make people ill
The day-long seminar will help builders and designers balance energy efficiency, indoor-air quality, and cost.
State regulators get a proposal that would eliminate efficiency requirements that lower demand for electricity and natural gas. Advocates cry foul.
A Canadian panel has found that the noise made by utility-scale wind turbines can be annoying, but it sees no clear link to ill health.
A combination of delayed spring deliveries, plant breakdowns, and high demand has made concrete harder to get, slowing small construction projects and frustrating builders.
Online registration is now open for the January Design & Construction Week that combines the International Builders' Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas.
A survey finds more contractors are taking advantage of internet-connected smartphones. But builders still lag slightly behind the general population.
A state appeals court has upheld $18 million in punitive damages against Union Carbide after a builder contracted a deadly form of cancer.
In a national survey, many firms report shortages of qualified workers and call for better vocational training to ease the problem.
A ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court clears the way for two small wind farms, each with three turbines.
Jobs training is one of several White House programs aimed at energy conservation and reducing carbon emissions.
This year's list includes furniture, an air barrier system, Passivhaus-certified windows, and super-adjustable lighting.
Engineers from two California universities have developed a method of protecting houses from earthquakes that is both effective and relatively inexpensive. Could homeowners forego earthquake insurance?
The Minnesota-based company has just received an ethics award from the Foundation for Financial Service Professionals
Hammer & Hand, a high-end builder in the Pacific Northwest, posts its construction manual online "in the spirit of collaboration"
The California-based developer is accused of shoddy workmanship on houses in a 55-and-over resort community in Washington State. Hundreds of houses are affected, according to a lawsuit filed in federal district court.
Despite protests, Lakewood city officials have made it a little tougher for homeowners to sue builders over construction defects.
A New Jersey company looks to Sweden for techniques on forming frost-protected slabs faster and with far less labor than conventional foundations
Canadian students developed an interior door that helps equalize air pressure between adjacent rooms, then they founded a company to market it.
A survey finds the use of spray-foam insulation has declined after a big growth spurt between 2008 and 2012.
A new survey finds changes in what homeowners want in their bathrooms. Jetted tubs and bidets look to be the big losers.
The government's Housing Innovation Awards recognize builders who are advancing designs that lead to net-zero-energy performance.
The new law is designed to protect firefighters and other emergency personal
The Race to Zero competition challenges college students and faculty in the U.S. and Canada to design high-performance houses.
More than half of those who lost their jobs during the recession have been rehired, but the industry still faces a shortage of skilled workers.
The company says malicious software allowed credit-card data to be stolen and focuses on sales made between April and September.
The home improvement retailer discovers that home security is the top priority for people investing in home automation. Few prefer professionally installed systems over a DIY approach without a monthly fee.
A Wisconsin technical college builds the first of three Passivhaus structures--a project that connects students in five related disciplines with outside pros
A training center to open in Los Angeles next year will train union electricians in advanced techniques integral to net-zero-energy technology
Betting on fresh interest in networked home products, GE launches a light bulb that can be turned on and off with a smartphone.
Faced with big repairs on a rental property in Washington, D.C., the owners decided to tear the building down and create a new one with used shipping containers.
There are plenty of competitions for innovative and beautiful projects. Now there's one for engineering and architecture that just plain sucks.
After winning the approval of a historic review board, a North Carolina architect started construction of his new house. But a neighbor's challenge has left the project in limbo.
Modern appliances are marvels of technological ingenuity. There's only one problem--they don't last as long as they used to.
On a Native American reservation called Fort Peck, hundreds are on a waiting list for housing. The actor's Make It Right Foundation will build 20 new high-efficiency houses to help them.
A report from the AFL-CIO shows the fatality rate increased in 2012, and the energy boom in the West could have something to do about it.
According to the National Association of Home Builders, the District of Columbia ranks at the top of the state-by-state list with $2707 per home.
The proportion of women working in the construction industry is about the same as it was 30 years ago--less than 3% overall.
A national survey finds the number of houses being built isn't enough to keep up with job growth in 32 states, a trend that will push up prices for homebuyers in the long run.
More buyers want the energy efficiency, healthy indoor air, and durability that green building fosters, and more builders are adopting green strategies in their projects. The trend affects both single-family and multifamily builders and developers.
Builders are finding it tougher to find developed lots, and homebuyers can expect to pay more as a result.
The Future Farmstead Program includes a demonstration home that's all about "living and working smart." The net-zero-energy living laboratory is a collaboration between the university, students, and a long list of public and private partners.
Auburn University's Rural Studio began its affordable housing program in 2005 to bring better low-cost housing to the people of Hale County, Ala. Now the houses are headed to the commercial marketplace.
When an existing brick foundation is capped with another layer of concrete block to reduce the transmission of water vapor, is this renovation company creating the potential for a structural problem?
A Breaktime reader is about to install board-and-batten siding on his new house, and he's getting mixed messages on the best way to finish it. Should he stain only the outer face of the siding as the mill owner suggests, or make sure all six sides of each board is finished?
Passivhaus-certified 'Earthship Farmstead' is LEED Platinum rated and has a roof where sheep could graze (but probably shouldn't)
Icynene says its new Classic Plus will make it easier for builders to meet stricter energy-code requirements.
With the skills to handle the maintenance, builders are uniquely suited to profit from owning rental properties. Here are some tips for marketing a home to high-quality tenants.
Even if you are working with an existing plan, consider a few tweaks that will adapt the floor plan to the way you live.
Free download describes the use of structural paneling instead of 2x blocking when installing these increasingly common roof trusses.
A homeowner in central New York discovers some condensation in the floor of an addition that is 5 ft. off the ground. He wonders about the source of the moisture, and what to do about it.
A study by an internet marketing-and-research company finds websites for building and construction firms are the least friendly to mobile devices.
In some markets, a shortage of skilled labor is delaying the completion of new homes and driving wages upward. A tile setter in Denver can earn $100,000 a year.
Thinking of hiring a local shop to build your cabinets? Here's how to determine whether you've found the right one.
The Department of Agriculture will spend $1 million to train builders, engineers and architects as it promotes the use of advanced wood building materials.
Stumped on what kind of structural panel to use on the job? Fire up your smartphone or tablet and get the app.
Warning of inspections in June, the agency invited 200 contractors and property managers in Connecticut to attend an information session about the rule.
Letters seek a $150 fee from builders for using a patented but vaguely defined moisture removal process. Advocates call it a "patent troll." Patent owners disagree.
The net-zero energy house in California includes many energy-efficiency features and comes with its own battery-powered car. Honda says it will give plans and specs away for free.
An air-source heat pump powers this air-conditioning and heating unit designed for installation by homeowners.
Citing government data, the National Association of Home Builders says new home sales are "effectively flat" and that sales of existing homes show a "significant decline."
Remodeling magazine's annual cost vs. value study ranks projects by the proportion of money that can be recouped when reselling the property.
The BASF Corp. unveils a liquid admixture for use in concrete exposed to freeze-thaw cycles. It will produce a mix that's as much as 30% stronger than air-entrained concrete.
The building-industry trade group says new federal rules would require permits be issued for a greater number of projects and would lead to delays.
Complaints from Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Illinois claim Azek PVC decking is defective. The lawsuits have now been consolidated in a New Jersey court.
A French design firm develops a prototype for a 1615-sq.-ft. house built from blocks of foam insulation and laminated-veneer lumber.
Contractors who make sustainable building their focus face a variety of business risks that mainstream builders don't have.
New device allows three-dimensional images of interior spaces to be created quickly and easily. Why look at simple photos when you can fly around the room?
The annual conference sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association is the largest building efficiency program in the region.
Acetylated wood is an alternative to conventional chemical treatments, but the company didn't see a quick enough return on its investment to continue producing it.
Construction of single-family homes dropped by about 16% in January. Builder confidence also fell. The National Association of Home Builders says the weather is mostly to blame.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is seeking lower exposure limits for crystalline silica, but the National Association of Home Builders says the agency doesn't understand how the new rule would work in the 'real world.'
A study by McGraw Hill Construction finds that a growing number of builders expect green building to be an important part of their business mix.
The New American Home opened for tours as part of the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. Now a website offers virtual tours for anyone who couldn't be there in person.
The median age of American houses climbed to 35 years in 2011, a sharp increase over 1985's 23-year median age. The National Association of Home Builders says this may signal an opportunity for remodelers.
APA--The Engineered Wood Association offers hundreds of downloads for free on a variety of building topics.
The internet giant Google acquires a company that makes internet-connected thermostats and fire detectors. Greater web connectivity with ordinary household devices is probably ahead.
A National Association of Home Builders survey finds that lot sizes have shrunk slightly while the average house size has climbed to about 2600 square feet.
SolarCity installs panels at little or no cost, then charges homeowners for electricity. Its stock is rising quickly as national interest grows in solar installations.
Habitat for Humanity affiliates in the U.S. are beginning to build Passive House and net-zero-energy projects, but only a small fraction of the nonprofit's local chapters are making the leap.
After gains of nearly 18% in 2013, single-family housing starts should rise by more than 30% in the year ahead, says the National Association of Home Builders.
The alternative to conventional pressure-treated lumber will be removed from 30 houses in New Orleans because some of it is showing signs of decay after only a few years of service.
Sales of new single-family homes were lower than in October; overall, though, the market is posting its best performance of the last five years.
Hundreds of exhibitors will showcase building products, tools and services for the construction industry in what organizers say is the largest trade event of its kind in the country
New-home sales rose more than 25% in October to reverse a dip in the month before, leading the National Association of Home Builders to say the housing recovery is on track.
APA--The Engineered Wood Association offers a primer on framing techniques that reduce waste and increase energy efficiency by allowing more room for insulation.
A production builder in Denver uses standard building materials and techniques every carpenter knows to produce a line of net-zero houses that are cost competitive in its market.
A California building contractor has launched an online guild for local trades, then used his new web skills to write a book on social media specifically for the building trades.
For the sixth consecutive month, builders of single-family homes are generally positive about market conditions, the National Association of Home Builders reports.
The 55+ Housing Market Index increased in the third quarter to its highest reading since launching in 2008.
A writer wonders whether off-the-grid systems might rightfully find a place in the debate over renewable energy.
The OrbSys Shower filters shower water as it's used to reduce water consumption by 90%.
For the fifth consecutive month, construction spending increased.
As part of a renovation of his four-story house in San Francisco, John Metcalfe has added a pair of tankless hot water heaters. But instead of delivering lots of hot water quickly, the revamped plumbing system means a two-minute wait for hot water at the shower or in the kitchen.
The government has added 47 days to the deadline for submitting written comments and testimony about proposed rules limiting workers' exposure to masonry dust on construction sites, extending the comment period to Jan. 27.
Construction drawings typically show a foundation drain installed in a bed of crushed rock next to the footing. But some builders argue the drain should properly be installed on top of the footing where it can protect the seam between the foundation and the footing.
Student teams representing 19 colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and Europe designed solar demonstration houses that went on display in Irvine, California, for this biennial event.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index declined slightly in October, showing a retreat in all three areas the index tracks. The National Association of Home Builders says political turmoil in Washington is to blame.
Requirements will be a little tougher, and for the first time a "performance path" to compliance will reference a HERS rating.
Developers plan 27 units that will meet the stringent Passive House requirement for airtightness and energy consumption.
The National Association of Home Builders says new-home starts this year will be 629,000, but it expects the total will top 1 million by 2015
Half the house is built for an Energy Star rating, the other half to the very stringent Passivhaus standard.
In California, a superior court judge weighs claims that lead paint poses health risks. Makers and distributors could face cleanup bills of more than $1 billion.
An expensive house dating from the 1960s has developed an annoying problem in the form of a floor that sags 3/4 in. over a 16-ft. span. Iamme would like to correct the problem but isn't sure if his plan will work.
The government reports a modest rise in housing starts for the month, and much of the credit goes to single-family projects.
Builder confidence in the market for new, single-family homes pauses after four months of gains.
ProSeal Eco uses water rather than hydrofluorocarbons as a blowing agent, lowering its ozone-depleting and global-warming potential.
The Commerce Department reports a modest gain in July as private residential construction spending hits its highest level in almost five years
The 2014 International Builders' Show in Las Vegas is part of the first Design & Construction Week
Most roofs on new houses seem to have continuous ridge vents, which have largely replaced the louvered gable vents commonly installed a generation ago. But what about a house that already has gable vents? When it needs a new roof, should it get a ridge vent at the same time?
Atlanta architect Scott West designs a lot of contemporary houses with flat roofs, and he's looking for advice on the best way of insulating them. There are a variety of options, but at least one reader wonders whether he should junk the flat roof plan in favor of something else.
The National Association of Home Builders says OSHA's plan to limit job-site exposure to silica would cost the industry $1 billion a year and could force contractors to stop using common masonry materials
After a pause during the housing slowdown, the average size of new single-family houses is climbing again to reach a record in the second quarter of the year. Prices also are up.
New rules would mean lower exposure for people who work with concrete, fiber cement, or other masonry products.
Higher mortgage rates are being blamed for a drop in the number of newly signed contracts to purchase a house.
A builder with a background in conventional construction changes gears to build with insulating concrete forms. His net-zero-energy houses have very low rates of air infiltration.
Construction of single-family homes is down by 2.2% for the month, but multifamily projects show a sharp gain.
Planning a high-performance house in Massachusetts, Bill L asks the Green Building Advisor's Q&A Forum how to build in an air barrier that will stand the test of time. He's not sure that specialized construction tapes are the way to go.
Charlie Hague and Megan Williams built their house from scratch, but lacked planning permission. Now authorities have ordered the house bulldozed.
The number of metropolitan areas on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index has declined by eight, but the total is still three times as high as it was a year ago.
In California, construction is picking up, but some wonder whether the many skilled workers displaced when the building market collapsed will want to return. Others aren't so sure there's a problem.
A Michigan builder and Dow Building Solutions collaborate on a 5-year study aimed at proving that energy upgrades make for more-comfortable and more-durable houses.
Sales of single-family houses increased by more than 8% as the inventory of new homes declined.
The Energy Department begins writing new rules to make ceilings fans more efficient, but House Republicans aren't having any of it.
Now in its second year of construction, this Habitat community ultimately will include 18 housing units, community gardens, an "edible landscape," and a community center.
Builders may be feeling more upbeat, but the number of new homes started in the month of June showed a sharp decline.
Prices for framing lumber were lower in June, according to the Random Lengths composite price index.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing-market index rises to highest level since January 2006.
The chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders points to increased spending for residential construction and remodeling.
More than one-third of all new homes sold in May were not yet under construction, a signal that the housing industry continues to gain strength.
For the fifth month in a row, more than 70% of metro areas in the United States are now designated as improving, according to the Improving Markets Index.
A Vermont manufacturer of structural insulated panels has launched a line of kit houses that should generate as much power as they consume. Kits include photovoltaic panels, ductless minisplit heating and cooling, and triple-glazed windows.
Rebuilding Together asks for nominations and says the grand prize is a trip for two to the Super Bowl in 2014.
A Wisconsin design-build firm specializes in columns and trusses made from sections of trees that have not been milled or machined. Its co-founder says that timber components are far stronger than those made from milled lumber and can compete with concrete and steel.
Builders and lumber dealers report shortages of OSB, wallboard, framing lumber, and plywood.
A book by a public-relations expert offers help to builders who want to expand their use of social media.
Bidding on a small job, a contractor is told by the prospective customer that he wants to get a second bid. Is that what they really mean? And what's the best way to respond?
A task force examining the effects of Hurricane Sandy suggests changes in how houses are constructed to avoid damage from future storms.
The index that measures builders' views of market conditions is now at its highest since April 2006.
The International Builders Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show will be merged in a 'mega exhibit' planned in Las Vegas in February
Median square footage of new houses is on the rise as the building industry recovers from its stumble
Roman concrete submerged for the last 2,000 years gives researchers some clues for making a more durable concrete with fewer environmental penalties.
The National Association of Home Builders Legislative Conference urges Congress to back measures that keep the housing recovery going
The 2400-sq.-ft. net-zero-energy home includes a composting toilet, nontoxic finishes, many locally sourced materials, and a rainwater collection and filtration system. It's on the market for just under $650,000.
Home prices climbed nearly 11% in March as buyers competed for a limited number of houses. An improving housing market should be good news for builders.
In a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission, ForestEthics and Greenpeace claim the Sustainable Forestry Initiative violates the FTC's Green Guides and is misleading consumers as it seeks a share of the lucrative certified-lumber market.
A carpenter who works for a custom-home builder is entertaining thoughts of starting his own remodeling business, but he doesn't know if this is the right time or how to get started.
Builders in Montana and Delaware pursue web campaigns to increase the use of American-made products in U.S. houses. They cite minimal cost differences, and say even a modest switch in buying habits will mean more jobs here.
Legislation reintroduced in Congress would restore the opt-out clause sought by the National Association of Home Builders and other trade groups
Researchers who developed a method of sealing leaky air ducts set their sights on a whole-house treatment that should make it easier for builders to make tight houses
A class of student builders in Northern California designs and builds a house that exceeds state energy standards. With a work day only two hours long, that can take a while.
A measure to be introduced in Congress on May 8 provides financial incentives to states that adopt the latest versions of the International Residential Code
If you want to market a green house successfully, one real-estate expert suggests dropping ambiguous wording and "sell the steak, not the sizzle."
Housing starts are up sharply, but building jobs show only a modest increase. Several factors may explain the paradox.
As he makes plans for an addition to his Connecticut house, RickGreg has been told by the local building department he must install a fan in the insulated, unvented crawlspace. Does this mysterious edict make any sense?
A couple living in Atlanta want a house that's free of the chemical pollutants common in standard construction. They consider using autoclaved aerated concrete blocks for the walls, but soon find there are doubters aplenty.
A Florida attorney cites an "avalanche" of complaints from homeowners about toxic effects of spray polyurethane foam and says that complaints have been filed in federal courts in a half-dozen states. Installers as well as manufacturers are named.
Shelter is one of the most fundamental human needs, yet our approach to building is antiquated, labor intensive, and costly. A high-tech approach called Contour Crafting enlists computer-aided manufacturing and promises dramatic improvements in how we create human habitation.
NAHB welcomes the news as a sign that the recovery in the housing industry is continuing
The creator of the LEED for Homes rating system underscores its influence on building worldwide, but critics complain the system fails to measure energy consumption and is more about winning points than better performance.
A Connecticut-based group called Simply Smiles seeks donated tools and craft supplies for a summer volunteer project on a South Dakota Sioux reservation.
Designers are asked to devise a house for Habitat for Humanity that reduces carbon emissions, shines aesthetically, and doesn't cost too much
Strawmyers knows all about the misery of working in an icy cold pole barn, and with a new attached garage on the horizon he has a chance for more comfortable working conditions. The question is how much to invest in insulation, and how to heat the space
In allocating $5.4 billion in recovery funds to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, HUD will require compliance with a green- building standard but doesn't specify which one to use
Research Center becomes Home Innovation Research Labs in move to 'enhance value' of its brand and certification mark
The Appraisal Institute develops a new "green addendum" to help appraisers calculate the value of renewable-energy and building enhancements that lower operating costs
The National Association of Home Builders says a shortage of skilled labor is slowing recovery of the housing industry
Trends survey by American Institute of Architects finds more interest in kitchens and baths, and greater attention to use of technology
A National Association of Home Builders survey dives deeply into the psyche of American homebuyers, and their preferences may surprise you.
Wonder how all that high-tech heating and ventilation equipment is really doing? InView Passive will tell you.
Amendment would restore opt-out provisions that the EPA dropped in 2010
According to an engineer's calculations, the built-up beam over pboneox1's kitchen will be strong enough to carry the intended structural loads. But there's no question it's sagging, and that has pboneox1 wondering what, if anything, he should do about it.
Light-gauge steel framing has several advantages in residential construction: it's straight, light and cost competitive with dimensional lumber. It's also an excellent heat conductor, and that has a builder wondering whether steel framing has any place in his energy-efficient home.
Combining strength and thermal efficiency in a garage slab that will carry a lot of weight
A couple building a house struggles to choose a fresh-air-circulation system that will keep their home healthful without breaking the bank
An unhappy customer pans her renovation contractor on Yelp, and the builder responds with a $750,000 defamation lawsuit. Have you been embroiled in an internet dispute?
There's no question the criticism is often undeserved, but plumbers nonetheless have a reputation for taking a recip saw to studs, joists, and rafters when they get in the way of supply and drain lines. The result, as Tackitybits has discovered, can be tough to fix.
A 74-year-old planning a new home in North Carolina ponders the relative advantages of a crawl space and a slab.
A bargain-hunting builder searches for an alternative to commercially available insulation baffles for use in a cathedral ceiling. Can he fashion something from a $30 roll of housewrap?
Once routine, polyethylene vapor barriers are out of favor in all but the coldest climates. Writing on behalf of a friend in Chicago, Ed says he gets that. But he wonders about the risks of building a house without one when no special care is taken to make the house airtight.
Potential customers seem to love them, and why not? But pros are divided, some insisting that providing estimates is part of running a business and others just as adamant that would-be customers should be charged.
A 6-year-old house on the Washington coast looked like an enviable retirement home, but a closer inspection finds wet OSB sheathing and the homeowner wonders whether the underlayment is to blame.
A homeowner planning a tight, well-insulated house is grappling with a key decision: whether to choose an air-source or ground-source heat pump for heating and cooling. What's the best call?
Erik Olofsson wants to build an energy-efficient house in the mountains of British Columbia, something with walls close to R-40. He wonders whether a double-stud wall is the most economical way to reach his goals.
New shingles are going over the old as part of a lead-abatement program, but the contractor who won the job is using techniques that make the homeowner nervous.
David Martin is thinking about a new roof, and he likes the idea of a standing-seam metal roof. The roofing is durable, recyclable and may actually cut his energy bill. Or will it?
As builders and homeowners get more energy-savvy, they often choose an exterior wall assembly that includes rigid foam insulation over the sheathing, followed by furring strips and then the siding. But is this technique appropriate for vinyl siding?
A Seattle homeowner worries that steel I-beams used to support cantilevered floors in this modernist design will wick in cold temperatures from the outside
Radiant-floor heating systems often include concrete slab floors, a combination that should produce steady temperatures without the frequent ups and downs of forced-air systems. But there's a catch: because the slab is slower to respond to changes in temperature, whether to turn down the thermostat at night becomes more than a simple question.
A homeowner in Baltimore needs to replace the built-up asphalt roof on his house, and wonders how to insulate it effectively at the same time
Fine Homebuilding goes on the road to learn the ins and outs of what it means to be a master carpenter
A builder planning a new house plans to include a rainscreen, an exterior detail that separates the sheathing from the finish cladding with furring strips. He'd like to install the furring horizontally instead of in the more typical vertical orientation. Is that a problem?
Some builders have successfully experimented with storing heat in a thick layer of sand under a slab and using the insulated thermal mass for heat. But skeptics still think the idea is mostly hot air.
Structural insulated panels do an excellent job of keeping energy losses to a minimum, but they're also susceptible to moisture damage unless detailed correctly
Even experts continue to be confused about the permissible thickness of foam insulation sprayed onto the underside of a roof deck
A homeowner looking to upgrade the insulation in his 90-year-old Cape is thinking about contracting for spray-in foam. But he's got conflicting advice from installers and wonders whether closed-cell or open-cell foam is the way to go.
Energy efficient buildings typically incorporate insulation beneath their concrete slabs, and the go-to choice is sheets of rigid foam. Are there alternatives?
A winning design for an energy-efficient house in the Deep South sparks a conversation on whether high R-values can make a house harder to cool.
John Hess is planning to build a super-insulated house in New England, and is considering a masonry heater. These high-mass heaters require a fire only once or twice a day, but would one be overkill in a super-tight, high efficiency home?
A wood stove in an old, leaky house? No problem. Air consumed by the stove could easily be replaced via the abundant air leaks that most old houses had. In airtight construction, it's a different question.
A homeowner building a house in Massachusetts asks for advice on insulating a cathedral ceiling
Uncoupling membranes used between a tile floor and a concrete slab should prevent any cracks in the concrete from affecting the tile, but will it lower the thermal mass potential of the concrete?
Planning a house for a cold climate, a builder weighs the merits of double 2x4 stud walls vs. 2x6 walls with exterior rigid foam insulation.
Historic preservation rules may prohibit the replacement of single-pane windows that contribute to energy losses. Are these edicts reasonable, or do they represent the triumph of tradition over common sense?
Adding rigid foam insulation to the outside of the building reduces thermal bridging. Choosing the right insulation for the wall cavity is another question altogether
'Massive' air leaks in a one-year-old house prompt the homeowner to schedule an energy audit, and what he finds is an apparent natural gas leak
A leaky crawl space can lower indoor air quality and make it harder to heat and cool a home. So what's the most effective way of dealing with the problem?
When the fan draws 900 cubic feet of air per minute, making provisions for makeup air becomes essential
When ducts are hard to access, can they be effectively sealed from the inside?
A layer of foam added to the outside of a structural insulated panel should reduce heat losses via thermal bridging. The question is whether the foam will increase the risk of decay in the oriented strand board skin of the panel
One of the cornerstones of green building is acting on an individual level to reduce energy consumption and conserve natural resources. But some believe it accomplishes very little in the overall scheme of things
A homeowner is moving ahead with plans for an unvented roof insulated with a combination of dense-pack cellulose and rigid foam board. Will moisture be a problem?
Storm damage can range from broken rafters to smashed windows and shredded roof shingles. Repairs don't always go as smoothly as they should, and sometimes uncover shortcuts taken in the past
Although polyethylene sheeting has fallen out of favor as a vapor retarder in most wall and ceiling assemblies, opinion is mixed on whether it can be used as an air barrier
An owner/builder, worried that required blower-door tests could cost him thousands of dollars, decides not to seek a building permit after all
A double-stud wall house with radiant-floor slab and a high performance propane hot-water heater is on the drawing boards. Care to comment?
A builder planning a high-efficiency spec house wants to insulate the foundation walls, and is considering a type of panel that incorporates an inner layer of rigid foam insulation and two outer layers of concrete. Will it work?
A Massachusetts homeowner wonders how a green design might look for someone who likes to keep the windows open and the heat turned down
In a superinsulated house, appliances generate heat that is slow to dissipate
The right features make it easier for homeowners to stay put as they age
Compact fluorescent lamps are gradually taking the place of standard incandescent bulbs, but light-emitting diodes are another, if more expensive, option.
What's the best plan: investing in high-quality windows and insulation, or a high-efficiency heating system?
Irene's damage is done, but it's never too early to start preparing for the next natural disaster
A neighbor has hired someone to clean and paint a detached garage on his property, and now paint chips presumably containing lead are everywhere
The internet is an unrivaled source of information, but the World Wide Web also can be an unrivaled source of intimidation when you're thinking of launching a web site to increase business. How to start?
Corrective action now will prevent ice dams and water intrusion when winter rolls around again
A homeowner in Atlanta has taken all of the usual precautions to keep moisture out of the basement. But he's still running a dehumidifier around the clock. Is there something else he can try?
A remodeling contractor and self-described perfectionist is bugged about defects that have appeared in a ceiling he's just installed
A builder who doesn't like the look of conventional cylindrical forms looks for way to make his own
The owner of a New Hampshire beach house may have a great view of the ocean, but there's not a shred of insulation in the roof. What now?
A couple planning to build a high-performance house have come across some plans that interest them. They turn to the Q&A forum at GreenBuildingAdvisor to ask whether anyone can make suggestions for improving the design.
The roof is on, and insulation contractors are now advising Ted Storm on how much open-cell foam to spray on the back side of the roof deck. Three contractors suggest the same thing, but is their advice on the right track?
A 50-year-old house is about to get an overhaul that will include new sheathing, siding and wall insulation, but the owner is sweating the details
An Oklahoma builder who builds relatively large, single-story homes wonders whether his best approach is to turn the attic into a conditioned space with the use of spray polyurethane insulation.
An attached garage saves money and materials during construction, but it also makes it tougher to maintain high indoor air quality. Are there solutions to the problem?
A rushed job results in piers with uneven tops, and now the builder wonders how to proceed: level the tops before setting his posts or pull out the piers and start again.
It's been more than 70 years since someone first recommended the use of a vapor barrier to reduce the risk of condensation inside wall cavities. The recommendation can still spark a debate.
High-performance windows aren't cheap, but many experts say the energy savings and increased indoor comfort justify the cost. Is this really the case?
Is there a reliable way of estimating lower energy costs, or are there too many variables?
A Pennsylvania homeowner is planning to downsize into a smaller house and looks for a prescription for energy efficiency on a small budget.
After building a new workshop, the owner belatedly realizes the 2x6 joists may not be strong enough to support the weight of hardwood lumber he wants to store overhead. Now what?
Lukas Smith is looking for the best way to build the radiant-heating system in his new home in southern Ontario. But, feedback from folks in the forums is causing him to think twice about using radiant heat at all.
A homeowner is stuck with "bags and bags" of excess foam after the walls of his house have been sprayed. Can it be broken up into smaller pieces and added to the batt insulation in his attic?
An owner-builder in western Washington State with a strict construction budget wonders how to get the energy efficiency she wants with what she has to spend.
Even in the best of times, getting new business isn't easy. When buying newspaper ads or relying on word-of-mouth referrals isn't getting it done, what are some off-beat approaches to reeling in new paying customers?
A bungalow in northern Massachusetts has been renovated twice in the last 10 years but still has a major weakness when it comes to energy efficiency: an uninsulated field stone basement and a furnace and air handler located in an unconditioned attic.
Al Cobb's goal is simple: Build better houses and help consumers make better choices. To do that more effectively, he wants to understand the root causes of heat loss a little better. Are air leaks or low insulation levels the real culprit?
Experienced builders disagree about whether there's enough information about this popular tubing's health hazards.
Breaktime contributor Starboardtacker is looking for suggestions on how to attach a deck ledger to his house. Should he use pressure-treated blocks between the ledger and the house? Skip the blocks and use a few washers? Or is there another way?
A Baltimore-area builder with 30 years of experience is discouraged with what he sees in the building industry: strict building codes but poorly trained carpenters.
Information on energy efficient homes and green design is readily available to anyone with an internet connection or library card. But wading through all of it is a massive undertaking. Is there a way of getting right to the point?
Adding a layer of rigid-foam insulation to the outside of a poured concrete foundation saves energy, but it raises a key question: What's the best way of protecting and finishing the foam that remains above grade.
Too much noise is a nagging environmental problem that can be every bit as objectionable as cold air drafts or low indoor air quality. Noise from an outdoor source--a nearby freeway or construction...
What's the best approach with a couple that's divided over the scope of the work? The wife wants the contractor to build a complete house. The husband wants only a shell he can finish himself.
A homeowner with chemical sensitivities who lives near a Superfund site seeks the most effective way of keeping potential toxins out of her basement
Staying in business means taking advantage of every opportunity to stand out in a field of competitors. Accepting credit cards is convenient for customers, but are their hidden hassles?
Leaving exterior walls intact during a kitchen remodel, a builder has a plan for boosting the insulation and getting a good air seal by applying rigid foam on the inside.
Would a house be comfortable if you just heat the bottom floor? With 6,000 heating degree days a year, Omaha, Nebraska, isn’t exactly balmy come mid-winter. If a ranch-style house has a radiant-floor heating...
A contractor has started framing canon4me's new house, and something in the basement has the homeowner scratching his head. A main carrying beam in the first floor ends at a window header, and canon4me worries the connection won't be strong enough. What to do?
Roger Lin wants a very tight house, tight enough to meet the Passive House standard of 0.6 air changes per hour under a blower-door test. Lin will be using insulated concrete forms, which combine...
A contractor with more than 30 years of experience has a problem. After helping a potential customer develop plans for an upcoming project, russellbriss was rebuffed when he politely asked for some compensation. Is this a legitimate beef or just "small potatoes?"
When a builder working under a time and materials contract makes a mistake, should he eat the loss and correct the problem for free, or charge the homeowner for his trouble?
Pizza has designed a 14-ft. by 18-ft. free-standing deck at his house 40 miles west of Philadelphia. His dilemma? He doesn't know where to get his hands on 18-ft. stock for the full-length beams so he's planning on a mid-span splice. Will it work?
There are screens out there for every budget and need.