Latest Posts

Stamp Out Greenwash — Support Greenwash Action!

GreenwashAction

By   1 week ago

Longtime Bay Area green building pioneer and activist Jason Grant has started a new project, Greenwash Action. GA is dedicated to pulling the covers on greenwashing shenanigans, particularly those bankrolled by deep-pockets trade groups like the American Chemistry Council. ACC and others have been waging a war against LEED and the USGBC because of the […]

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Creating Change With ‘Just the Right Pressure’

JustRightPressure

By   3 weeks ago

I just read a great post on Green Builder by Matt Power, titled “Just the Right Pressure.” Here is an excerpt that particularly resonated for me: “For years, we’ve tried to help the makers of green products get their message out to consumers. But as we’ve all learned, simply blasting them with information rarely has […]

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AIBD California Society 2014 Annual Conference Focuses on Building Science

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By   3 weeks ago

AIBD California Society 2014 Annual Conference, April 2nd – 4th Enough for today about past events — this one is still on the horizon. Next week, in fact! In San Bruno, about 2 miles from where I sit as the crow flies, Skyline College’s Solar and Building Science department will be hosting the California Society […]

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PH2: PHenomenal Passive House CA’s “Building Carbon Zero California”

PHCA FisheyeText

By   3 weeks ago

  Campers, this has been an extremely busy week or so for Northern California greenies, and it’s got me on a “squared” jag (see last post on BW2) … Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in Passive House California’s “Building Carbon Zero California” at the delightful Cocoanut Grove Ballroom in rockin’ Santa Cruz. This […]

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BW2: Brilliant Weekend @ BuildWell 2014

BuildWell 2014 Innovative Materials for a Greener Planet

By   3 weeks ago

120 green building leaders and innovators in the built environment gathered last weekend at BuildWell 2014 in Sausalito, CA. Kudos to Ecological Building Network‘s Bruce King, co-producer Sarah King, and their dedicated band of volunteers for producing a brilliant event. The speaker line-up included keynotes from Architecture 2030‘s Ed Mazria, science wiz John Warner from […]

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World SB14 Barcelona Conference, Oct. 28-30, 2014

World SB14 Barcelona

By   6 months ago

The World SB[Sustainable Building]14 Barcelona Conference has announced the opening of the call for papers; SB Challenge 2014; and the Universities Competition, “Powering Transformation.” Please visit http://www.wsb14barcelona.org/ for full details. HouseTalk’s Ann Edminster will be serving on the conference’s Scientific Committee.

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Help Make Insulation Safer

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By   1 year ago

      Dear Green Building Enthusiasts, My dedicated friends and associates at the Safer Insulation Solution have forwarded the plea for support below. Please do what you can to help move this important initiative forward! We all want energy efficient buildings that are also fire safe and healthy for people and the environment. The […]

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Your Gadgets Are Killing . . . Part 2

BauBio

By   1 year ago

Yesterday I wrote about the fact that our gadgets and their chargers now use up more electricity, in USA homes, than heating and cooling! Alex Stadtner weighs in from another angle, presenting evidence — a lot of evidence — that they may also be harming us with the electromagnetic fields they generate. Those fields surround […]

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Your Gadgets Are Killing Home Efficiency Improvements

Gadgets-310x218

By   1 year ago

We are building tighter, more efficient homes — but using more juice keeping all the lights and devices charged and humming. Stephen Lacey spells this out in Greentech Media: Your Gadgets Are Killing Home Efficiency Improvements : Greentech Media.

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a new view of concrete

1 sq pantheon 2

By   1 year ago

Concrete is by far the most common material used by humankind for anything, excepting only water. And it gets villified in green building for its carbon footprint. But there’s more to the story. Here’s a longer view of how we make the artificial rock called “concrete”. 21st Century Concrete — a New Look

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Towards A Hemp Architecture

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By   1 year ago

One of the most promising natural building technologies — “natural” meaning minimally processed, low energy intensive materials — is hemcrete, a mixture of chopped hemp hurds and lime plaster. It can be pressed into blocks, or stuffed or sprayed into wall cavities, and provides excellent thermal insulation, thermal mass, and moisture durability. Check out this […]

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In the market for fridge+baby monitor?

SamsungT9000

By   1 year ago

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show was reportedly chock-a-block, as always, with the latest and greatest (??) gadgets and gizmos. We spend a lot of time in our zero net energy classes talking about the rising significance of these devices (a.k.a. plug loads) in otherwise-efficient homes. The notion of combining functionality is admirable, and for years […]

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Air Sealing Doesn’t Just Happen

Fig 4-3 detail 3

By   12 months ago

One of the biggest challenges in a high-performance building project is getting the air sealing right … and it doesn’t JUST HAPPEN. It has to be carefully designed and detailed in the construction documents. A number of architecture firms are doing a very good job at this, one outstanding example being Coldham & Hartman Architects […]

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Virtual Net Metering for Multifamily Solar-Electric Systems

Solara

By   1 year ago

A couple of years back, frustrated by obstacles encountered to installing a large photovoltaic (PV) system at the Solara community, multifamily housing energy guru Nehemiah Stone (now with Benningfield Group) spearheaded a lobbying and education effort by a stakeholder coalition that resulted in the California state government enabling “virtual net metering.”  This is a mechanism […]

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Net Zero & Net Zero Ready Certification from Earth Advantage

EarthAdv-logo

By   1 year ago

Earth Advantage Institute Offers First Energy Model-Based Net Zero & Net Zero Ready Certification in the U.S. Earth Advantage Institute, a Portland, OR-based nonprofit focused on designing tools for better buildings, announces that it has launched the first energy model-based net zero and net zero ready green home certifications in the country. This distinguishes it […]

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WalkScore Your Neighborhood

WalkScore

By   1 year ago

Gotta love WalkScore! This website has been around for a while, but keeps adding new features. Enter any address and get its pedestrian-friendliness rating. My neighborhood? “Car-dependent.” Now I can agree or disagree with this rating, Tweet it, post on Facebook, etc. Better still, I get a list of amenities in the area. Another feature […]

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Your Gadgets Are Killing . . . Part 2

BauBio

By   1 year ago

Yesterday I wrote about the fact that our gadgets and their chargers now use up more electricity, in USA homes, than heating and cooling! Alex Stadtner weighs in from another angle, presenting evidence — a lot of evidence — that they may also be harming us with the electromagnetic fields they generate. Those fields surround […]

Read More →

Resilience: the best technology is not technology

sandy

By   1 year ago

Climate disruption. Floods, drought, fire and hurricane. Peak oil. Peak everything. There are massive, unprecedented changes under way around us, giving new meaning to the notion of “home” and “shelter”. Scientific consensus not only confirms that anthropogenic climate change is happening, but also that it’s too late to halt it. Even if we stopped emitting […]

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AIBD California Society 2014 Annual Conference Focuses on Building Science

2014-AIBD-Elec-Screen-300x168

By   3 weeks ago

AIBD California Society 2014 Annual Conference, April 2nd – 4th Enough for today about past events — this one is still on the horizon. Next week, in fact! In San Bruno, about 2 miles from where I sit as the crow flies, Skyline College’s Solar and Building Science department will be hosting the California Society […]

Read More →

PH2: PHenomenal Passive House CA’s “Building Carbon Zero California”

PHCA FisheyeText

By   3 weeks ago

  Campers, this has been an extremely busy week or so for Northern California greenies, and it’s got me on a “squared” jag (see last post on BW2) … Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in Passive House California’s “Building Carbon Zero California” at the delightful Cocoanut Grove Ballroom in rockin’ Santa Cruz. This […]

Read More →

BW2: Brilliant Weekend @ BuildWell 2014

BuildWell 2014 Innovative Materials for a Greener Planet

By   3 weeks ago

120 green building leaders and innovators in the built environment gathered last weekend at BuildWell 2014 in Sausalito, CA. Kudos to Ecological Building Network‘s Bruce King, co-producer Sarah King, and their dedicated band of volunteers for producing a brilliant event. The speaker line-up included keynotes from Architecture 2030‘s Ed Mazria, science wiz John Warner from […]

Read More →

World SB14 Barcelona Conference, Oct. 28-30, 2014

World SB14 Barcelona

By   6 months ago

The World SB[Sustainable Building]14 Barcelona Conference has announced the opening of the call for papers; SB Challenge 2014; and the Universities Competition, “Powering Transformation.” Please visit http://www.wsb14barcelona.org/ for full details. HouseTalk’s Ann Edminster will be serving on the conference’s Scientific Committee.

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ZNE Home Retrofitting Classes in San Diego

Energy Free: Homes for a Small Planet

By   12 months ago

San Diego Gas & Electric will be hosting our 4-part class series on retrofitting existing homes to achieve deep energy reductions while targeting zero net energy. Here’s the schedule: May 9: Overview – yours truly (Ann Edminster) May 23: Mechanical Systems – Rick Chitwood May 30: Enclosure – Rick Chitwood + Gavin Healy June 6: […]

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Habitat X 2013 Summer National Conference

HabitatXgroup

By   1 year ago

Come Join us at Habitat X Tuesday, July 30, through Friday, August 2, 2013 Just for HouseTalk readers, Super Early Bird registration has been extended until April 22nd. Trainer-par-excellence Chris Dorsi writes: The most common comment I hear from people who have attended the Habitat X Conferences is that the solid network of colleagues is the most […]

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1180 Fourth Street — Gateway to Mission Bay South, SF

1180 Fourth Street, San Francisco

By   7 months ago

1180 Fourth Street marks the corner of 4th and Channel Streets as a gateway to San Francisco’s newest neighborhood, Mission Bay South. This setting carries civic obligations unusual for an affordable housing project; it demands a welcoming, well-made and richly articulated building to set the standard for development to follow on the surrounding blocks. As […]

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Ann’s Kitchen Remodel

IMG_0476

By   1 year ago

I’m all for longevity of finishes and not junking serviceable things before they’re shot, but I think 27 years is long enough to put up with ugly, cracked, avocado tile with hideous dark (and eroded) grout seams PLUS an equally horrid avocado sink. So now they’re gone. Hurray! Replaced by a white farmhouse sink (Villeroy […]

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Managing expectations: the 22½ rule

Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 8.39.25 AM

By   1 year ago

So, you think you’re going to beat the odds. You think you’re going to build that house or add that bedroom or remodel that kitchen for less than everyone else, because you’re smart, you’ve planned carefully, you got good advice, you were disciplined in choosing all that stuff you have to choose, all those fixtures […]

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A Better Way of Building

ABC2

By   1 year ago

For high-performance home enthusiasts, Green Home Builder magazine’s holiday issue includes “A Better Way of Building” (page 42) an article in which I offer some observations about what high-performance project teams can do to pave the way to more effective collaboration and improved project outcomes. Also see page 46 for a story on the ABC […]

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“The Greenest Modern Home in the World”

eco-sense-home-of-the-future1

By   1 year ago

When I was recently in Victoria, Canada, I had the pleasure of touring Ann and Gord Baird’s EcoSense home just outside of town. I was deeply impressed, as was Jason McLennan of the Living Building Challenge (and author of this blog’s title quote). Here are two lovely people who built their dream home — not […]

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ZNE Home Retrofit in Los Angeles

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By   1 year ago

The Green Idea House is one family’s project to affordably retrofit their house into a net zero energy, zero carbon case study. Says homeowner Robert Fortunato, “The building has surpassed all our net zero energy, zero carbon goals, is a joy to be in and won the 2012 Green Leadership Award for Los Angeles County, […]

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Your Gadgets Are Killing Home Efficiency Improvements

Gadgets-310x218

By   1 year ago

We are building tighter, more efficient homes — but using more juice keeping all the lights and devices charged and humming. Stephen Lacey spells this out in Greentech Media: Your Gadgets Are Killing Home Efficiency Improvements : Greentech Media.

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Build tight, ventilate right

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By   1 year ago

You may have heard that before, but you can never hear it too often. Even here in warm,sunny California, just leaving the windows cracked is not a great strategy for the health of you or for your home. Here is a great post from my friend August Hasz in Colorado on the subject, lifted from […]

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Mulling over mold . . .

Picture 1

By   2 years ago

If you live in a bowl of mold food– which most of us do — you’re smart to keep it dry. Joe Lstiburek published this article in Fine Homebuilding some years ago, but it’s still completely timely and useful.

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We Need To Do It Different This Time

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By   2 years ago

You can’t overinsulate, right? Well . . . Joseph Lstiburek (pronounced STEE-brek, in case you’re curious) of Building Science Corporation, and the Lady Gaga of Building Science worldwide, offers a few thoughts on the unintended consequences of super-insulation.

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Bad concrete, good concrete, green concrete

1 sq pantheon 2 copy

By   2 years ago

Make low-carbon concrete by limiting the cement content — not just adding pozzolans. Concrete is artificial rock that you make by mixing sand, gravel and a binder. Modern building codes require that a large part of that binder be Portland cement, a really fantastic binder that comes at a very, very high carbon cost — […]

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Why didn’t somebody TELL him?

CampArroyoCabinlite copy

By   2 years ago

As my colleague Ann Edminster likes to say, you don’t so much want “Integrative Design” as “Integrative Project Delivery”. This is one of several cabins I engineered for Siegel & Strain Architects for which we all wanted to use Optimum Value Framing. By carefully detailing each wall and opening, we could reduce lumber usage by […]

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