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magazine / jun12

June 2012 issue

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While I can understand the worry over tossing out perfectly good components, the point being made is a valid one. Put your money into things that are expensive or difficult to change after construction (foundations, envelope,windows) because things like floors and counter tops CAN be changed, if absolutely necessary.

I don't believe Mr. Durfeld is advocating obsolescence.
With regards to OSB, the whole point of Passive Design is to have as airtight an envelope as possible and manage it with a very efficient heat exchange and recovery system. The OSB is NOT going to be exposed to moisture from either the inside (due to the continuous membrane) nor the outside (due to the design and layering of materials that make it difficult for water to get in but easy for it to move to the outside.

As for OSB, it is a green material because it typically uses wood that cannot be used structurally (aspen/poplar or small dimension logs) thereby reducing the amount of forest that needs to be harvested to achieve the same volume of usable products.

And I would agree that putting our efforts to figure out efficient ways to retrofit our buildings will result in far greater benefit for our grandchildren than tearing down perfectly good structures that we are just too lazy to remodel. But if we ARE going to build new single family or, more likely, multifamily buildings, let's try to make them as high performing and adaptable as possible.

Submitted by Peter Moonen on Friday, August 3, 2012

Salve or no salve, these houses out-preform anything that we build today. A %15 premium seems like a small price to pay so that future generations have a healthy planet on which to live. Build these in existing built up areas with good transit connections and the increased construction costs become less of an issue.

Submitted by jon on Saturday, June 23, 2012

This interesting article about energy efficient building reflects a baffled refusal to look at basic facts. Matheo Durfeld wants people to buy houses that cost 15% more and then throw out the flooring and countertops! What's "green" about that? What if one wants to change the house? Is OSB a "green" building material? How is it less porous than properly painted plaster? What happens when the OSB walls have absorbed a winter's worth of moisture? If a conventional house is already porous, is it "green" to build in such a way that everyone has to purchase a powered heat exchanger? Do we need to exchange the air in our house 16 times a day? Most importantly, if housing is such an energy consumer, it's surely not a "green" solution to build an entire new set of houses. Improving the existing ones would be a much better use of resources, and it's taken my family a lot less than $40,000 to improve the energy efficiency of our house. We won't solve problems of consumption by buying new stuff, no matter how cool it is. The 15% premium means these green houses are just conscience salves for the wealthy.

Submitted by Julian Behrisch Elce on Tuesday, June 5, 2012

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