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What Is The Value of a Human Life?

Reflections on Forty Years of Building Codes by Paul Biebel, Founder and President, Prudent Living, Inc. Forty-three years ago, when I was just starting to learn different facets of the building trade, I worked as an unofficial apprentice to a licensed electrician in his eighties who had been around since the days of Edison –…

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How Does a Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic System Work In Your High Performance Home?

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems provide clean electricity that has many benefits. Renewable energy is better for the environment, better for your bottom line, and is long lasting. So while it is easy to understand the benefits of clean energy, it is not alwayseasy to understand how it is produced. Certain components required by code have been left out of the following diagram in order…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 12

An air tight barrier in a high performance home is critical to making the home perform at a high level of energy efficiency. To ensure that we are meeting our own expectations for air tightness, I perform a blower door test on the house at least once during construction to identify areas that could use a…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 11

I have this dream that I will one day live in a high-performance home. It’s hard not to want to when you are involved with building them each day. Super tight construction, high levels of insulation, largely maintenance free, and inexpensive to heat and cool! Who wouldn’t want that? At the end of week 11,…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 10

Week ten was one of those weeks where it would be difficult to notice how much work was accomplished on this high performance home if you hadn’t been on site all week to see firsthand. These are the times when the crew loves it when I show up and say, “what have you guys been…

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Why Build a High-Performance Home?

If you’re thinking of building a high-performance home, and you want the best “bang for your bucket of bucks,” prudence suggests that you consider the advantages of going high-tech, even perhaps aiming for a net-zero home. “Net-zero” describes a home in which the renewable energy sources that are incorporated into the design produce the equivalent…

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The Construction of a High-Performance Home: Week 9

With insulation planned for the coming week, the crew has turned their attention to preparing the air barrier on the exterior walls of this high-performance home. The air barrier, which is Intello Plus Membrane, is stapled to the studs on the exterior wall and will hold back the dense packed cellulose insulation. Three-quarter-inch strapping, as…

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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 8

I stopped by the high performance home site today and listened to the subcontractors in the attic above me murmuring about how it was such a pain to get anything done with the membrane already installed on the ceiling below. I chuckled. As high performance home builders, paying attention to energy details is important to us, and…

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The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 7

Hey now! Despite the blizzard of the century, perhaps even the history of the universe, great progress was made on the project last week. The windows were delivered to the site the day after the storm, before we even had a chance to dig out and were all in their final resting place by noon…

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