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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.
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Recent Posts

The 9-11 That Wobbled

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Feb 20, 2018 9:10:13 AM

Despite near-biblical storm events in Florida and Texas, few seem to take the warning signs seriously.

What would happen if a 16-foot storm surge hit the Tampa Bay, Fla., area? We almost found out on Sept. 11, just a few months ago. But by happenstance, luck or grace, the storm “wobbled” slightly to the east. The big surge never hit, and winds dropped to Category 1. Lives and property were spared.

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The Promise and Pitfalls of Plastics in Construction

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Feb 12, 2018 4:58:43 PM

The world is literally drowning in waste plastics. Can we redirect the stream into long-lasting building materials?

I won’t spend a lot of time elaborating on our global plastic addiction. Suffice it to say, the stuff is taking over. We’ve polluted our oceans and seafood with it, laced our drinking water with it, and are now using (and throwing “away”) more of it than ever. We need an intervention.

Perhaps that intervention could come in the form of an embrace. Given the season of storms and flooding we just experienced, plastic-based building materials are consistently looking better. In the least, we could keep some trash out of landfills and waterways. At best, we might create a whole new way of building, with durable, flood-resistant materials.

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Win a WeMo Lighting Dimmer and Simplify Your Smart Routines

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jan 22, 2018 9:49:10 AM

Controlled from your smart phone, these gadgets require no hub, of their own, making them flexible and hassle-free.Wemo Smart Dimmer.jpg

One of the most appealing aspects of the WeMo line of smart products is that they don’t try to do too much. The light dimmers are part of a small suite of products from Belkin, designed for DIY installation without a lot of reading of manuals.

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Big Ideas Begin on Your Street

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jan 16, 2018 10:18:51 AM

Local efforts toward sustainability can yield social and ecological rewards.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an appeal from my local neighborhood association (WENA) to volunteer to build affordable window inserts for my neighbors.

Like many of you, I am wary of small homeowner organizations. They can too easily devolve into anti-change NIMBY groups, or become de facto-style police, controlling everything from mailbox colors to lawn length. But this endeavor seemed legit. So I signed up.

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Can High-Tech Tools Help Crack the Sleep Code?

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Dec 26, 2017 4:27:11 PM

Wifi gadgets can make you forget a stressful encounter at work, but they can dim the lights, cue the music, and remind you of the heavens.

Unless you’re 20, have no children, don’t drink coffee or wine, keep your weight down, and have a completely stress-free life, you’ve probably had trouble sleeping.

Insomnia seems to be a condition of modern life. There are many theories about why this is so. We have a whole new list of potential sleep disruptors:  Could it be the processed food in our diets? The pesticides? The electromagnetic fields (EMF) generated by our smartphones? How about the fact that two-thirds of us are overweight, a direct route to sleep apnea and other sleep wreckers? Then there’s the effect of looking at video screens all day.

Where do we begin to take back the night?

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Will Virtual Reality Home Schooling Become the New Normal?

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Dec 22, 2017 11:48:38 AM

The thought may strike fear into the hearts of teachers, but it’s a trend with real potential for leveling the educational playing field.

I’ve known many teachers, and they’re among the hardest working, least recognized heroes I know. So it’s not without reservation that I pen this article. But doing some research for our futuristic Flex House project recently, I stumbled into a trend that could quickly grow into a social and cultural game changer.

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Soon,Your Inlaws will Have Their Own Sinister Doorbell Ringtone

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Dec 20, 2017 11:43:43 AM

The convergence of facial recognition with simple Alexa routines offers custom musical responses for your front door.

New technology is just hitting the market that will allow you to trigger different musical alerts based on who’s standing at your door.  It’s not a feature that’s being spelled out by the smart gadget people yet, but it’s one that’s literally on your digital doorstep.

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Smart Water Systems Promise Last Best Defense Against Wildfires

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Dec 13, 2017 4:11:52 PM

The combination of wifi sensors, graywater systems and smart irrigation offers a lifeline for besieged homeowners in parched neighborhoods.

Along with the bigger forces of Climate Change, another contributing factor to the fierce wildfires in California this month has been the dry soil conditions. Light rainfall, combined with heavy use of aquifers by large farms, has created perfect conditions for an inferno.

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Back to Basics

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Dec 13, 2017 12:36:04 PM

Don’t let fear make you hasty. Address the fundamentals, and your home will feel like the safe haven it should be.

There’s a crackling tension in the air? Can you feel it? Part of it, of course, is the the chaotic state the world’s climate: from superstorms to uncontrollable wildfires. On top of these shudders from the planet is the often racist, childish and violent rhetoric from our political leaders. It’s no wonder that more people are circling the wagons, “fortressing” their homes with security systems, surveillance cameras and generators.

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The Rise of Sun-Scaping

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Dec 1, 2017 3:12:41 PM

When battery powered weed wackers and solar panels connect, the result is pollution-free yard care.

Until recently, battery powered lawn tools were the exception to combustion-powered monsters. But the tool landscape has shifted; power from solar PV now beats fossil fuels in cost per kilowatt. The result is a tantalizing new possibility: Net-zero landscaping with power tools or what I have dubbed "Sun-Scaping." 

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Building Science: The Pathway to Resilience

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Oct 30, 2017 2:20:06 PM

Preparing future homes to survive climate-induced shocks begins now.

Builders face tough times. Each year brings more restrictive land use, rising material costs, stricter building codes (in some areas) and the ever-looming threat of litigation. Of course, sometimes the industry backs outdated ways of building (opposition to low-flow toilets a few years ago was not a high mark). But builder groups in California were right to resist a new bill that holds them responsible for the unpaid wages of their subcontractors’ employees. We need our best and brightest focused on what really matters—building high-performance housing—not fighting legal battles.

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Traffic Jams and Sprawl Data Contradict U.S. Desire for Walkability

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Oct 5, 2017 10:05:43 AM

Despite surveys suggesting that Americans prefer walkable neighborhoods, only 2.7 percent actually walk or bike to work.

THE INFOGRAPHIC BELOW dispels many misconceptions about the "typical" worker in the U.S. Although the percentage of people who walk or bike to work has grown slightly, by 1.4 percent, the number of drivers on the road has INCREASED by 8.6 million since 2006. It's not your imagination. Traffic IS getting worse.

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Smart Thermostats Offer a Back Door to Save Flood-Damaged Properties

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Sep 28, 2017 10:45:07 AM

With their ability to monitor and adjust temperature, humidity and the presence of electricity they may be the last best hope for evacuated homeowners.

FOUR BRANDS of so-called smart thermostats now dominate the U.S.: Ecobee, Honeywell, Emerson Sensi, and Nest. The degree of market penetration varies by region, but more importantly—as our Cognition database research has shown, the level of adoption is strongly affected by price and utility-driven rebates (if any). In states without rebates or energy efficiency incentives, adoption tends to lag.

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