Green From The Ground Up

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Green construction is the building trend of the decade – and being demanded by more and more home buyers in search of sustainable, healthy and energy-efficient homes. Here you'll learn how to apply the most forward-thinking and proven methods of green construction to the homes you build or remodel.


You'll find details for planning, material selection, energy efficiency and indoor air quality – detailing every step in design and construction, from framing to finishes. This is a must-have reference for contractors who want to remain competitive and offer their customers the latest ideas for energy efficiency.


Filled with hundreds of clear full-color photos that illustrate every aspect of building green – including, foundations, framing, roofs and attics, doors and windows, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, insulation, siding and decking, ventilation, solar energy, interior finishes, landscaping, and more. Even includes tips on reducing air leakage and sound transmission.

Weight 2.0000
ISBN 978-1-56158-973-9
Page Count 330
Author David Johnson and Scott Gibson
Publisher Taunton
Dimensions 6-3/4 x 9-1/2

Green construction is the building trend of the decade – and being demanded by more and more home buyers in search of sustainable, healthy and energy-efficient homes. Here you'll learn how to apply the most forward-thinking and proven methods of green construction to the homes you build or remodel.

You'll find details for planning, material selection, energy efficiency and indoor air quality – detailing every step in design and construction, from framing to finishes. This is a must-have reference for contractors who want to remain competitive and offer their customers the latest ideas for energy efficiency.

Filled with hundreds of clear full-color photos that illustrate every aspect of building green – including, foundations, framing, roofs and attics, doors and windows, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, insulation, siding and decking, ventilation, solar energy, interior finishes, landscaping, and more. Even includes tips on reducing air leakage and sound transmission.

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INTRODUCTION, 2

1
Green Building Basics
, 5
Green Is No Longer on the Fringe, 6
Lots of Green, Few Improving Concrete Common Standards, 8
Dealing with the World Controlling Moisture around Us, 13

2
The House as a System
, 23
How Heat Is Transferred, 5
Thermal Transmission, 26
Controlling Heat Flow, 28
Air Leakage, 29
Air Barriers, 31
Airflow Mechanisms, 32
Tight Houses Need Makes Sense, 96
The Many Faces of Water, 35
Controlling Sound Transmission, 38
Putting It All Together, 40

3
Planning and Design
, 43
Get the Team on Board, 44
Sitting a House for Comfort, 46
Planning for Water Management, 64

4
Foundations
, 67
Foundations Should Be Insulated, 67
Forming Foundations with Wood, 69
Improving Concrete with Fly Ash, 79
Controlling Moisture around Foundations, 80
Make Crawl Spaces Generous, 81

5
Framing
, 83
Advanced Framing Reduces Waste, 84
We Have Tree Farms, Not Forests, 89
Engineered Lumber Makes Sense, 96
Using Steel Studs with Recycled Content, 99
Structural Insulated Panels Are Fast, 101
Timber-Frame Construction, 106

6
Roofs and Attics
, 109
Frame with Trusses, 110
Attic Ductwork, 111
Superinsulated Attics and Roofs, 114
Stopping Air Leaks at the Ceiling, 115
Sheathing and Roof Membranes, 118
Roofing Materials, 120
Light Colors Reduce Heat Gain, 126
Really Green Roofs, 127

7
Windows and Doors
, 129
Window Frames, 133
Glazing, 137
Preventing Air and Water Leaks, 144
Insulating Windows Themselves, 148
Skylights and Light Tubes, 148
Doors, 149

8
Plumbing
, 155
Distributing Hot Water Efficiently, 156
Water Heaters, 159
Eliminating the Wait for Hot Water, 162
Insulate All Hot Water Pipes, 164
Saving Water by Reducing Flow, 166
Plumbing for Gray Water, 168
Appliances That Save, 170

9
Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning
, 173
Designing a System, 174
Forced-Air Systems, 175
Radiant Systems, 182
Heating Appliances, 184
Geothermal Systems, 187
Ventilation, 189
Cooling, 192

10
Electrical
, 197
What Drives Demand?, 198
Lighting, 199
Lighting Design, 201
Energy-Efficient Appliances, 203
Electric Heating, 204
Solar and Wind, 204

11
Insulation
, 207
Old Assumptions Don't Work, 209
Form Follows Function, 210
Making Sense of Insulation Choices, 213
Loose-Fill Insulation, 218
Spray-In Insulation, 220
Rigid Foam, 222
Radiant Barriers, 226

12
Siding and Decking
, 227
Drainage Planes, 228
Siding Materials, 233
Decking, 242

13
Solar Energy
, 251
Solar Hot Water, 253
Solar Collectors, 258
Active Solar Space Heating, 260
Photovoltaics, 262

14
Indoor Air Quality
, 273
Setting Standards for Exposure, 274
Contaminants and Their Impact on Health, 275
Building Products That Off-Gas, 280
The Cure for Dirty Air, 282

15
Interior Finishes
, 287
Choosing Environmentally Friendly Products, 287
Drywall, 291
Paints, Finishes, and Adhesives, 293
Interior Cabinets, 295
Countertops, 297
Green Flooring, 303

16
Landscaping
, 311
Evaluate Site and Climate, 312
Working with What's There, 315
Integrated Pest Management, 321

AFTERWORD, 322
RESOURCES, 326
CREDITS, 327
INDEX, 328

My passion for green building is based on experience.

I know that building green results in better houses and that it improves the lives of the people who live in them, not to mention the health of our planet.

For 10 years, I ran a construction company in Washington, D.C., called Lightworks Construction. We focused on solar construction. When the solar tax credit expired in 1985, everything changed. The momentum of the solar industry ground to a halt, and it didn't get going again for nearly 20 years. With the financial incentive gone, we began specializing in building and remodeling super energy-efficient and innovative houses, offices, and restaurants. Our job was to over-deliver and delight our clients by transforming their homes and offices into more comfortable, efficient spaces. Although the term had not yet been coined, we were pioneers in what is now known as "green building."

In 1992, I sold my construction company and set off to discover the new, big business ideas that would make the world a more sustainable place. I interviewed CEOs from over 50 cutting-edge companies. I spoke with manufacturers, investment firms, inventive providers of services, and consultants and leaders in the construction industry. Over the course of those countless conversations, it became clear that many sectors of the economy were converging on a new business model, one with the potential to change the way our homes are built and how they work-and, I hoped, with the potential to lead us to a less challenging future for our children.

Jim Leach, a leading solar builder in Boulder, Col., was one of the visionaries who illuminated this fresh way of thinking for me. He was also the one who first told me about a new field called "green building." Finally, there was a word that described how we built at Lightworks. For me, green building was the perfect way to marry my love of construction with my desire to improve the quality of life for America's homeowners. And I got to do something good for the planet.

Grand aspirations are fine, but the real difficulties always show up in the details. I moved to Boulder, where I'd gone to school, explicitly to start a green building program. I met with the Boulder Home Builders Association (HBA), and we started a green building committee to explore the issues and opportunities in green building. A few builders, inspired by Jim Leach's enthusiasm, joined forces with us, and the HBA board soon passed a resolution to develop a program.

At about the same time, the city of Boulder decided to update the local energy code, which had been adopted after the energy crisis in the 1970s. They wanted to incorporate resource conservation and indoor air quality into a green building program that would keep up with the growing number of local green builders. Within a year the second and third green building programs in the country were on the books; the Denver Home Builders Association adopted the Boulder program and the City of Boulder enacted a green building code. That's what launched this stage of my career.

My new company was called What's Working. As a recovering builder, I was actively involved as a consultant and trainer in green building programs around the country. With Kim Master, who joined the company in 2003, I wrote Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time to fill the niche for homeowners and remodelers who wanted a how-to book to guide their green remodels.

Since then, the increased interest in green building has been nothing short of astonishing. Green is everywhere, and everything points to long-term changes in how home buyers and home builders will do business. Where this leaves builders is another story.

It's fine for consumers to clamor for "green" houses, but what does that mean, exactly, to the person who is responsible for translating that into a real house? It's no less confusing for the prospective homeowner who wants a green house but isn't sure what that entails.

This book offers a way to get there, not by adopting wildly new building technologies and materials but mostly by using what's allready on hand. One step at a time, builders can move from conventional construction to something far richer for themselves and the people who buy their homes. It works.

David Johnston
Boulder, Colorado

Green from the Ground Up

"A refreshing and comprehensive step-by-step course in green building, packed with both solid building science and commonsense solutions."
- Helen English, executive director of the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council

"Green from the Ground Up overflows with details and practical content that is hard to find anywhere else...an essentail resource for any building professional that will be a valuable reference tool for years to come."
-Brian Gitt, CEO of Build It Green

Green construction is the building trend of the decade. In direct response to the growing demand for sustainable, healthy, and energy-efficient homes, David Johnston and Scott Gibson present the most forward-thinking theories and the best proven methods of new and remodeled green construction. They begin with down to-earth explanations of green building basics and move on to site planning, materials selection, energy efficiency, and indoor air quality-detailing along the way every step in design and construction, from framing to finishes.

A must-have reference for contractors who want to remain competitive, Green from the Ground Up is also a remarkable resource for homeowners who require the clearest and most thorough green building information available.

David Johnston is a leader in the green building movement, transforming the way we think about the American home. His approach to green building has been embraced by building professionals, municipalities, homeowners, and sustainability advocates nationwide. He is the founder of www.whatsworking.com and www.greenbuilding.com.

Scott Gibson is a freelance writer and contributing editor to Fine Homebuilding magazine.