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Green Builder Staff

Recent Posts

Insulation: Don't Leave Your Home Without It

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jan 21, 2015 2:33:40 PM

Know the Lingo

R-Value: A measure of how effectively a material resists heat flow. Thus, higher numbers are better. 

Batt: A length of insulation that is precut to fit certain wall cavity dimensions. Typically sold in a pre-cut roll.

Unfaced/Faced Insulation: Faced insulation (typically a fiberglass batt) includes a vapor retarder on the interior face that restricts movement of moist air into wall cavities. Unfaced is simply a batt without a vapor retarder.

Ridge Vent: An opening covered by a rainproof vent that follows the peak of the roof, typically required by code. Some insulating methods, however, negate the need for a ridge vent. Clear it with your local code official first.

Blow-In: Method of introducing loose fiberglass, cellulose or mineral wool to framing cavities or attic space, typically using a machine with an attached hose.

Blower Door: Equipment used to test the effectiveness of a home’s insulation and air sealing systems.

Stud Cavity: The space between the vertical members of a conventionally framed wood or lightweight steel home. Common stud spacings include 16” and 24” on center (of stud).

IF YOU'VE EVER opened up the wall of a home built before about 1950, you’ve probably been shocked to find little or no insulation—or at best some crumpled newspapers. And even the earliest serious attempts at insulation with fiberglass look quaint now. Cavities were often only partially filled. Water from outside often leaked in around windows and doors and damaged the insulation. Of course, homes were so leaky prior to the 1960s that walls dried out quickly, so mold wasn’t a big problem.

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Insulation R Values Chart

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jan 21, 2015 10:47:13 AM

This chart shows the approximate R-value per inch of various insulation products. Note, however, that not all product brands have exactly the same performance. More importantly, however, many methods of insulating lean heavily on what goes into the rest of the wall system to achieve good results. For example, blown-in fiberglass or cellulose can provide great results at a very reasonable cost, as long as plumbing and other penetrations are properly sealed, windows are caulked and sealed, and overall air infiltration is minimized with building wrap or (in the case of some types of rigid foam) carefully taped seams.

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Indoor Air Quality Testing

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jan 15, 2015 1:49:00 PM

INDOOR AIR QUALITY has been identified as a public health risk, and UL Environment, a division of the independent safety science company UL, tests products to determine their environmental impact, providing homeowners with valuable information on how to make their surroundings safer.

For example, UL’s GREENGUARD program certifies products, which include everything from computers to televisions to paint and flooring, offer low chemical emissions and contribute to healthier indoor environments. UL’s ECOLOGO certification rates multiple attributes, including impact to indoor air quality, throughout the life cycle of products. From building materials to cleaning supplies, ECOLOGO and GREENGUARD certifications enable purchasers to identify holistically greener products that meet their sustainability goals.

UL Environment also offers a free app on its Facebook page that gives homeowners tips on improving environmental safety. UL Environment also maintains the Sustainable Product Guide, a free searchable database of more than 14,000 currently certified products.

Some of the most common pollutants include:

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Indoor Air Quality: Manage Air Flow and Materials

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jan 14, 2015 2:29:00 PM

ONE OF THE CONFUSING CHARACTERISTICS of green building certification programs is the way they lump together two different aspects of building science: saving energy and keeping indoor air safe and clean. Is a green home one that saves energy, or one that has healthier indoor air than a conventional home?
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Central Vacuum Systems: Not Just for New Homes

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Jan 14, 2015 1:44:54 PM

Many homeowners shy away from installing central vacuum systems in their existing homes, because they fear that the installation process must be part of a full-scale renovation. However, almost one-third of all central vacuums sold in the U.S. are installed in existing homes without tearing out sections of walls or ceilings. In fact, the entire installation process usually takes less than a day.

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