Green Building

What are SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels)?

by Erik North on November 25, 2011

SIPS, structural insulated panels

  What are SIPs? That’d be structural insulated panels…but travel more than 10 feet outside the energy and construction industries and the phrase ‘structured insulated panels’ will draw some serious blank looks. So what are SIPs and what are their relation to building and energy use? They’re an integrated approach to building construction that combines […]


What Is Platform Framing (It’s Not A Podium)?

by Erik North on October 22, 2011

Post image for What Is Platform Framing (It’s Not A Podium)?

  What is platform framing home construction? Everyone has a mental image of different types of home construction. From Amish barn raisings to frontier log cabins, you can summon a picture of folks building their homes. The indelible picture of modern home construction, likely from a blue collar tinged movie or TV show starring D.B. […]


What Is A Weather Resistant Barrier

  There’s a great deal of functional overlap between materials that act as an air barrier, vapor barrier and as a weather resistant barrier. We’ve covered air barriers and vapor barriers in previous posts, but what is a weather resistant barrier? And what’s with the rest of the layers and barriers of your building enclosure […]


Post image for What is Radon Mitigation (It Sounds Scary…What Can I Do)?

  In good SEO fashion, let’s ask up front…What is radon mitigation? What is radon and why all the rush to have it mitigated? And how does this tie into your house and energy auditing? Radon…So What Is It, Redux Radon is an elemental radioactive gas byproduct of the decay cycle of uranium. It is […]


What Is The Building Envelope

  I talk about it all the time but what the heck is the building envelope (or to use the more appropriate modern term, what is the building enclosure)? Why is the building envelope important? As a side note, I’m going to use the terms, ‘building shell’, ‘building enclosure’ and ‘building envelope’ interchangeably. Building scientists […]


Post image for Air Barriers – Another Wicked Important Part of Your Home

  Your home’s air barrier is that wall your sofa is pushed up against. Thank you, good night! Important note: First thing…air ‘barrier’ is a bit of a misnomer (and an outdated term). Barrier implies totally stopping something. Air barriers in no way TOTALLY stop air flow but rather there are varying degrees of air […]


Post image for 6 Incredibly Simple Habits to Save Money on Your Hot Water

  This series of posts are covering simple behavior changes or small projects that could save money heating your home. Or in this case, producing hot water for your home. In other words, why would you spend $10k on a solar hot water system if you haven’t done the simple stuff yet…I mean unless you […]


Insulating basements

  Actually, no is isn’t. Sorry. The basement (or cellar, as we usually call it here in Maine) is one of the most important locations in your home. Yes, the cobweb and mildew infested hole under your house may not seem like it, but it is. How do you understand your basement from an energy […]


What is ASHRAE (And, Yes, They Are Rocket Scientists)

  ASHRAE is a name I throw around a lot in the credits section of audits. And why not, they’re authoritative guys. But…who or what the heck is ASHRAE? ASHRAE is not a group of mad scientists, not matter what they think. The acronym stands for the American Society of Heating, Refridgeration and Air Conditioning […]


Vented Attic or Unvented Attic

    “Doesn’t the house need to breathe?” “We need a vented attic.” I joke with contractors that they sometimes march in like Caesar’s legions, ‘Veni Vidi Vented’. I came, I saw, I ventilated. One of the stickiest and most muddily understood questions about homes is that of a venting. What is the difference between […]