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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

"Missing" Plastic Pollution in World Oceans Alarms Scientists

Posted by Matt Power

Jul 4, 2014 9:54:13 AM

SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN AWARE for years that giant floating "islands" of plastic debris called gyres are polluting our oceans--not just the Pacific--but most of the world's major seas.

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Nanoparticle Breakthrough May Make Paint-On Solar a Reality

Posted by Matt Power

Jul 2, 2014 5:33:41 PM

A new study published in Nature Materials describes a breakthrough involving Colloidal quantum dots (CQDs), tiny particles that can store solar energy. According to the research team at the University of Toronto, these nanoparticles are stable in air (unlike prevous attempts). They're inexpensive to produce, and could be mixed with other materials--even paints, and applied to building exteriors or roofing.

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Housing's Future: Millennials or Bust

Posted by Matt Power

Jun 12, 2014 12:45:00 PM

FIRST, THE BAD NEWS:  Only rich people buy new homes any

 New American Dream? Many Millennials dream of living in Eco-Friendly urban apartments like these hip Rosa Parks models in Chicago.

more. The homes they buy are often environmentally suspect, encourage sprawl, and contain enough room for at least two families.  But behind those facts are some encouraging trends--and market opportunities for progressive builders and developers.

"The first time buyer has really fallen away," notes NAHB Chief economist David Crowe, speaking this morning in Houston, at the annual NAREE conference."Builders are now only selling at the upper end of the spectrum. People are buying only if they already have good credit, and house sizes are larger than ever."

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White Roofs' Cooling Power Quantified

Posted by Matt Power

Apr 9, 2014 12:24:00 PM

One of the best tools for combating climate change is right over our heads.

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The Smartest House on the Block

Posted by Matt Power

Mar 10, 2014 9:29:00 PM

Big technology companies are showcasing what can happen when Web technology is integrated with good building science.

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Draft-Free Window Inserts

Posted by Matt Power

Mar 4, 2014 1:15:06 PM

Before  we gave a “thumbs up” to this new product from Indow Windows, a California company, we gave them a test run, having three installed in a hundred-year-old historic multi-family building in Portland, Maine.

Over a couple of months, we monitored both gas usage and perceived comfort in the building. The building was less drafty, more soundproof, and we can safely say the inserts live up to their claims: saving about 19 percent of energy costs (on average) over old, single-pane wood windows.

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What Makes HVAC Green?

Posted by Matt Power

Feb 6, 2014 8:42:46 PM

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Pods for the Paranoid

Posted by Matt Power

Feb 5, 2014 6:21:00 PM

Let’s hope that Chinese farmer Liu Qiyuan is either gullible or a marketing genius. When he built seven fiberglass survival pods in Qiantun, China, he got plenty of national attention. He says that after watching the apocalyptic movie, “2012,” he felt he had to create some escape pods so that people could escape the coming end of the world. If you’re reading this now (in 2014), and you’re NOT inside one of these pods, then Qiyuan is probably feeling a bit depressed.

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Banking on Solar Power

Posted by Matt Power

Jan 19, 2014 3:02:18 PM

A new partnership between SunPower Corp. and Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) will make solar financing available to homeowners in all 50 states. The program is a smart move for SunPower, a maker of solar equipment, because it removes the obstacle of finding financing for buyers interested in their systems. DCU has formed a consortium of 36 credit union partners around the nation, who have agreed to loan up to $50,000 for a solar installation to homeowners who join DCU.

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Saving Trees with Color Coding

Posted by Matt Power

Jan 19, 2014 2:52:51 PM

A lot of wood is wasted on the typical stick-framed home site. A 2009 study by the NAHB found that about 8,000 lbs. of waste ends up in landfills from a 2,000--square-foot single-family home. That figure includes up to 3,700 lbs. of solid-sawn wood, and up to 1,800 lbs. of engineered wood products (EWP). A Sugar Land, Texas, entrepreneur named Dewey Hennessee says he has a system that might address much of that waste—a color coding scheme that will help builders avoid mistakes. “Color-coded lumber is only part of the system,” Hennessee explains. “In order to make it useful to all parties, the engineer and/or estimator must utilize the same Color Plan Ink master list. A two-dimensional (or 3D if desired) color coded drawing of the working drawings will be produced to complete the system.” With drawing in hand, he estimates that the Color Plan system, (which is still in the developmental stage) could save more than $1,500 in variances on an average home.

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