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Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

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. Matt is a founding member of the Tiny House Industry Association, and sits on the board of The Resilience Hub, an educational organization focused on permaculture and hands-on reskilling.


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Recent Posts

Remove the Bad Septic Odor From Your Home for About $100

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jul 7, 2020 8:55:36 AM

What causes foul odors from septic systems to enter a home? A failed sink or toilet trap could be the cause. But older homes on slabs sometimes have failed J-shaped traps buried below the slab. Here are 7 easy steps to depressurize the system and clear the air.

During the long months of the Covid-19 lockdowns, my septic system odors became progressively worse. I noticed they would creep inside my home whenever I ran the kitchen range hood or turned on the dryer.

But also just randomly on hot days the odor would get bad. I was worried. It’s coronavirus world. How could I spend $10,000 on a new septic system, an alternative septic system, or a sub-slab excavation right now, when we don’t know yet if we’ll have an economy in two years?

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Three Keys to Reducing Airborne Covid-19 in Elementary Schools

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jul 5, 2020 3:46:40 AM

How can we make the return to kindergarten or elementary school safer during the pandemic? Ventilate, filter and humidify to optimal levels.

BASED ON WHAT WE KNOW about the coronavirus, no child will be 100 percent safe going back into an enclosed classroom in the U.S., even if PPEs and social distancing rules are strictly followed. Enclosed spaces without proper ventilation create ideal conditions for coronavirus spread.

In fact, the World Health Organization has just been accused in a letter signed by 200 scientists of downplaying coronavirus infection risks due to airborne virus particles. Linsey Marr, a virus specialist and one of the scientists who signed the letter, told the New York Times that "the WHO had relied on studies from hospitals that suggested low levels of virus in the air. This underestimated the risk, she said, because in most buildings “the air-exchange rate is usually much lower, allowing virus to accumulate in the air.” For a deeper dive, this article in The Atlantic looks at studies of how the virus spread indoors in Japan, and has some good insights.

The same is true of most school classrooms. They're not designed for rapid air changes. That needs to be remedied before we put children at risk.

Why? Because of the way the Covid-19 virus infection works. Particles need to achieve a critical mass before successfully infecting a host, a scenario most likely when air is static and dry, and particles are being introduced repeatedly. And, while masks and good hygiene definitely reduce transmission rates, airborne control of virus spread is at least as important, especially for young children, who may not be capable of consistent social isolation. These key healthy air qualities include humidity levels, speed or air exchange, filters and virus-killing lights.

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New Study Finds U.S. Real Estate at Far Higher Risk of Flooding than FEMA Estimates

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jul 2, 2020 12:51:16 PM


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As Lockdowns End, How Will Kitchens Change?

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jun 25, 2020 2:45:12 PM

Months of lockdown laid bare the flaws in many a kitchen’s design and functionality. Will tedium, time wasting and poor appliance performance lead to upgrades or avoidance?

Americans have a complex relationship with cooking. About half say they enjoy it. Others have re-discovered it as a way to reduce anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Homeownership Options for the Rest of Us

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jun 9, 2020 10:22:18 AM

Our expert insider guide will show you how to escape apartment living forever, and live at or below your current budget.

Reserve your copy here:

In June, as many as 50 percent of renters couldn't pay their rent. Renting makes you vulnerable when the world is topsy turvy. You're stir crazy, anxious and at the whim of your landlord. But you have options. Record low interest rates and unemployment have opened a brief "buyer's market" window.

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Sell now. Build later.

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jun 4, 2020 11:45:31 AM

A perfect storm of pandemic anxiety, nomadic obstacles and new family members could (still) spur a surge of online home buying among millennials.

With home model tours and walkthroughs now off limits, it’s not surprising that more people are shopping online for new digs. What may surprise you, however, is that millennials, who have been slower to embrace home ownership than their parents, may have turned a corner. They’re ready to buy a home now, and many of them don’t care if they have to do the whole thing online, without ever stepping foot in a physical building.

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Pandemic Water Use Rises Sharply

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jun 2, 2020 12:36:24 PM

Data collected from residential Phyn Plus leak detection systems reveal as much about state-of-mind as behavior.

Water is an incredibly important natural resource in our daily lives. From making our first cup of coffee in the morning to washing our clothes, cooking our dinner, and then brushing our teeth before we go to sleep, we all use water throughout the day without even thinking about it. Taking a close look at our water consumption and habits during this pandemic, and the changes that have come as a result, offers a unique and detailed picture of our lives under quarantine.

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Review: Solving Multiple Indoor Air Problems with a Panasonic ERV

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 27, 2020 11:29:53 AM

Hands-on install of FV-10VE1 provides instant solution to high CO2 and particulate levels.

I'VE WRITTEN RECENTLY about the importance of combining filtration and air diffusion when trying to limit the indoor spread of viral particles. But indoor air pollution comes in many forms: smoke, dander, cooking fumes, bathroom odors. Chances are that if you an excess of any type of pollutant, your home is not adequately ventilated. It’s that simple.

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Post-Frame Net Zero House Has Proven Popular Among Would-Be Buyers

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 21, 2020 12:55:33 PM

With a metal roof, solar array and extreme energy efficiency this home continues to turn heads.

On a mission to construct a long-lasting, low-maintenance Net Zero post-frame home, Corbin Borkholder was careful about the products he selected, including a specific McElroy Metal roofing profile to host the solar laminate panels.

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Reopening? Here's a Quick Fire Safety Checklist

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 13, 2020 10:07:19 AM

As businesses prepare to re-open, new NFPA checklist helps building owners and facility managers ensure fire and life safety for all occupants

As the federal government and many states begin allowing businesses to reopen, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed a checklist to help building owners and facility managers prepare, ensuring that fire protection and life safety systems in commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings are properly checked and functioning.

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Toilet Paper is Not the Answer

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Apr 28, 2020 2:41:36 PM

Standing in line at the local discount store recently, I watched a woman in her late 60s struggle to pile hundreds of rolls of toilet tissue onto her shopping cart. Terrified by the coronavirus, she didn’t know what else to do.

She’s in good company. Stores around the country report running out of toilet paper, cleaners, tissues and sanitizers--almost as fast as they’re vacating their canned goods and powdered eggs.

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Free Ebook: Safe Havens in Turbulent Times

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Apr 15, 2020 10:17:32 AM

There’s never been a better time to talk about resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from unexpected (sometimes shocking) change.

This year, increasing the resilience of our homes took on heightened urgency. Whatever your opinion about why COVID-19 became the global menace that it did, it’s unlikely that you escaped repercussions. Some changes, of course, are more existential than others. Many might argue that a pandemic is the worst-case scenario, and that life-threatening situations are rare. But those who survived the Camp Fire in California in 2018 might disagree. So might homeowners who rode out Hurricanes Andrew or Maria.

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Sanitizing Lamp in Bathroom Vent Fan Takes Aim at Mold and Bacteria Growth

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Apr 14, 2020 6:27:11 AM

Broan’s new bath fan, designed for in-room replacement, marks an innovative first: preventing mold and bacteria with light.

A decade or more ago (how time slips by), I wrote an article titled “Building Blind,” about the many building products in a home that don’t last as long as they should. Near the top of my ledger of shame were tile shower enclosures.

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