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Tool Test: The Solar Jobsite

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Dec 18, 2018 3:36:35 PM

New tools and battery systems bring the off-grid solar jobsite a step closer. 

When Ryobi unveiled its new 18V One+ 10-Inch Miter Saw, the time seemed right to test the viability of an all-solar-powered jobsite. I already owned a number of the Ryobi tools that use the same battery, along with a Ryobi P131 in-vehicle charger (a must), so I had them round out the suite for me with the miter saw, a P5231 orbital jig saw, a five-inch random orbit sander P411—and a plug-in, six-port battery supercharger.

My friend Oscar van Loveren is a well-informed solar dabbler and airline pilot. He walked me through the basic mathematics of watts, amps and capacity when it comes to solar charging. He agreed that 200 watts of photovoltaic should be enough to bring a 100-amp, 12-volt battery up to charge over the course of a sunny day.

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Low Propane Costs Have Put Gas Efficiency on Top

Posted by Jesse Marcus, PERC

Dec 11, 2018 7:40:19 AM

Combined with high-efficiency appliances, propane's affordability makes it even more cost-efficient than electric heat pumps.

Zero net energy (ZNE) homes — structures that produce as much energy as they consume — are growing in popularity and rewarding builders for providing sustainable home solutions for homeowners in pursuit of energy-efficient living, and propane appliances have become part of that "movement."

The Net Zero Energy Coalition released a study in 2017 that provides insight into the magnitude of growth the ZNE market is experiencing. Its research found there to be more than 8,200 single-family and multifamily units of zero-energy housing across the U.S. and Canada in 2016. That was a 33 percent increase over the year prior — and the data shows there’s no slowing down. Nearly 30,000 additional zero energy projects are currently in the planning stages.

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Healthy Home and Net Zero Features in this Veteran-Built Home

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Dec 6, 2018 2:56:04 PM

The United Veterans Beacon House is a green home and career-maker.

"Everyone deserves to live in a healthy home.” This has become the operating slogan for United Way of Long Island Housing Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that builds homes for local governments and several of the 126 agencies funded under the United Way of Long Island (UW-LI) umbrella. To fulfill this “healthy housing for all” vision, United Way began constructing homes to meet the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home (ZEHR) program in 2014 and has certified five homes so far, including the United Veterans Beacon House, a 3,719-square-foot, two-story home in Huntington Station, N.Y.

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Cambridge Researchers Developing Self-Healing Concrete

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Dec 5, 2018 10:47:24 AM

Researchers at the University of Cambridge are using microencapsulation technologies developed by Dolomite Microfluidics to develop self-healing construction materials. 

As highlighted in recent BBC News broadcasts, the Department of Engineering’s Geotechnical and Environmental Research Group is developing microcapsules containing ‘healing’ agents – such as minerals, epoxy or polyurethane – which can be added to building materials to allow self-repair of small cracks which develop over time.* Dr Livia Ribeiro de Souza, a postdoctoral researcher in the group, explained: “Many composite building materials used in the construction industry – such as concrete – suffer fatigue over time, developing small cracks. We are hoping to overcome this problem by adding microcapsules filled with ‘healing’ agents to the concrete before it is used. The idea is that, as cracks begin to form, they rupture the microcapsules, releasing their payload and stabilizing the material.”

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Builder in Colorado offers net-zero-energy construction in a townhome community

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Dec 3, 2018 10:27:27 AM

Heavy insulation, top-notch air sealing and energy-miser appliances make Courtyard Rows a crowning achievement in multi-family living.

Thrive Home Builders could rest on its laurels. After all, the Denver-based company has won grand awards for housing innovation from the U.S. Department of Energy four years in a row. Thrive has built more DOE Zero Energy Ready-certified homes than any other builder in Colorado and has the second-highest number of homes certified nationally, with 280 as of August 2017. Gene Myers, the owner and CEO of Thrive Home Builders, was awarded the Denver-area Home Builders Association 2016 Builder of the Year Award. Thrive was the first “solar standard” builder in Colorado and the first production home builder to include DOE Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) certification as a standard feature for an entire series of houses.

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An Example of Net Zero Efficiency

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Nov 14, 2018 1:53:52 PM

For Greenhill Contracting, building zero-energy-capable homes are an everyday thing.

Nearly 10 years ago, homeowners of one of the nation’s first zero-energy homes, built in the Green Acres community in New Paltz, N.Y., posed the question, “Why isn’t every home built this way?”

While many are still pondering that question, builder Anthony Aebi of Greenhill Contracting in Esopus, N.Y., is doing his part to make sure more homes are built that way.

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A Net-Zero Initiative

Posted by Green Builder Staff

Nov 13, 2018 1:49:27 PM

Amaris Homes goes right to work saving energy and cutting waste with its Afton, Minn., project.

Few builders are bold enough to offer even a one-year guarantee on their homes. Raymond Pruban of Amaris Homes offered a 10-year guarantee on his model home in Afton, Minn., promising that it would be a net-zero-energy performer, producing as much energy as its occupants used each year, for a decade.

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New Book Says Carbon Sequestering Cities Could Save Us

Posted by Bruce King, Guest Columnist

Oct 26, 2018 8:44:10 AM

The author shares how buildings can be more than net zero and can actually extract carbon from the atmosphere.

Bruce King, author of the newly released The New Carbon Architecture: Building to Cool the Climate, promises to share many things with us in his new book.  In this joyful guest post, he shares the good news - the good climate news - of how buildings can be more than net zero and can actually extract carbon from the atmosphere.

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Case Study: How One Easy-to-Install and Cost-Saving Method Saved New Condominiums

Posted by Briana Trulear, Guest Columnist

Sep 27, 2018 3:03:00 AM

Overhauled condominiums in Colorado use a lightweight, stone-free pipe system as a solution for stormwater drainage.

In Denver, the former Lowry Air Force Base was given new life. It was reconstructed into a modern development of residential and commercial buildings with parks, public art projects, an ice arena, a golf course and restaurants. 

Four complexes of high-end condominiums were constructed in a section of the site called Siena at Lowry. The drainage specifications for these buildings initially included the traditional method of 4-in. piping, surrounded by ¾-in. stone, wrapped in geotextile cloth. However, the earthwork and utility subcontractor on the project suggested an alternative drainage method as part of the value engineering process to reduce costs while providing an effective solution for draining water away from the foundations of the buildings. 

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Time-Saving Tech

Posted by Todd Imming, Guest Columnist

Sep 7, 2018 9:50:00 AM

These new building trends may make future construction projects greener, cheaper and faster to complete.

Construction has thrived on innovation and technological breakthroughs for millennia. Now is no different. Firms that embrace today’s cutting-edge technology and techniques can shorten project timelines, cut construction costs and promote a cleaner, more sustainable industry.

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