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Matt Power

As a veteran reporter, Matt Power has covered virtually every aspect of design and construction. His award-winning articles often tackle tough environmental challenges in a way that makes them relevant to both professionals and end users. An expert on both building science and green building, he has a long history of asking hard questions--and adding depth and context as he unfolds complex issues.

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Recent Posts

"Natural" Swimming Pools Work Best in Warm Climates

Posted by Matt Power

Nov 8, 2014 11:11:00 AM

It's time to address the overuse of chemicals in our nation's backyard pools.

JAMES ROBYN LIKES TO SHOW PEOPLE A PHOTO of a natural swimming pool next to a conventional chlorine model. It was built in Germany for customers who couldn’t decide which they wanted. The difference is striking. The natural pool is a green-hued swimming hole bordered by a water garden, a stark contrast to the conventional model’s blue sterility. “We call the chlorine pool the Windex pool,” he says.

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Remaking a 1950s Ranch for Energy Efficiency

Posted by Matt Power

Nov 7, 2014 8:00:00 AM

The builder almost doubled the original floorplan of this 1950s ranch and converted it to a duplex, reusing the old frame and plaster by insulating from the outside. Spray foam ensures that the remodeled structure is much more energy efficient.

WHEN DESIGN/BUILDER Greg Hardwick first eyed this cottage property, he says he was tempted to simply tear it down and start from the ground up. But that approach wouldn’t serve his greater purpose—to demonstrate how a green remodel can be done right, from demolition to final finish.
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Green is Not a Movement

Posted by Matt Power

Oct 19, 2014 7:08:27 PM

An article going around this week suggests that green building is a “social movement” that, like other social movements (prohibition, civil rights, etc.) stands at the precipice of success or failure. The writer argues that green building could easily be “co-opted, repressed, subject to failure, or succeed.” In other words, he’s arguing that the mainstream acceptance of the need to build energy-efficient, low-impact buildings is a matter of social choice—not something that “must” happen. I disagree.

Why? Because treating green building as a social movement is like calling eating a lifestyle choice.
To illustrate: If the suffragette movement or the civil rights movement of the last century had failed or been repressed (realizing that some believe they have), the end result would likely not have been the death and displacement of millions or even billions of human beings. There would be suffering, to be sure, but arguably not on the biblical scale.

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The Five Best Green Building Ideas This Century (So Far)

Posted by Matt Power

Oct 15, 2014 9:56:00 PM

A lot of the really groundbreaking stuff going on in green building happens behind the walls, so of course you might never notice it.

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Attic Caps: Fixing a Hole

Posted by Matt Power

Oct 9, 2014 3:24:00 PM

It seemed like everywhere I turned at this year’s International Builder Show, I cam across a new variation on an old idea—closing up the space above attic access stairs. While no one seems to have exact figures, third party testing suggests that some brands cut attic air infiltration by 70 percent.

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