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November 3rd, 2011

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Past GreenSpec Insights Issues

Choosing Insulation: Deal-Breakers

What Type of Insulation Should You Use? Part 1: The Basics

Alternative Energy Sources: Savior or Downfall?

Red List Mania: An Overlay of Chemical Avoidance Guides

Surprising new solar tech for cold climates

LEDs? Incandescents? Who's Using What

How to improve the windows you already have

When NOT to Replace Old Windows

Nine Types of Greenwashing

See more past issues


Welcome to GreenSpec Insights, an independent resource for architects, green consultants, and building product specifiers. Each week, we aim to bring you not only unbiased new product reviews, but also insights into what's really important for environmental performance in specific product categories. We hope you find it useful -- send your suggestions and other comments to

DIY Passive House?
Nothing “Passive” about That

HB Lozito
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Building to the Passive House standard is hard enough for the pros. We get a peek into what happens when you try to go it alone.

This week, BuildingGreen took a field trip to a Passive House that's currently under construction in our own backyard.

We've written often on Passive House, and it was great to see the zip-taped skin and 24-inch I-beam bones of one this week. Andrea and Ted call their new Brattleboro home an "Almost Passive House" since they're utilizing Passivhaus design ideas but are not yet sure whether it will meet the standard or if they're going to try for certification.

Read the rest of the blog.

Guest Blog: Almost Passive House

If you could design your dream window, what would it be?

Andrea Lemon
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Marvin Windows is currently running magazine ads asking well-known designers this question and showing pictures of the pretty windows they came up with: If you could design your dream window, what would it be?

I really wish they'd ask a few American green-building gurus this question, because I'm sure they'd get an earful.

As far as I know, Marvin, Pella, and Andersen aren't even trying to build Passivhaus-worthy windows.

Ted and I are therefore likely to order windows from Europe. If money were no object we'd want something like Optiwin's Passivhaus-certified three-wood window, but sadly we are on a budget, and ever-plummeting dollar doesn't help. But the high-end American windows I listed above aren't cheap either, and there's enough variety and competition in Europe, particularly from the former Eastern bloc, that we can get something good for an acceptable price.

Read more about Andrea's Passive House window search.

Going the Extra 3,000 Miles for Passive House Windows and Doors

Jennifer Atlee
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When it comes to green building, you can't always get what you what. So how do you get what you need?

BuildingGreen's recent field trip to a local Passive House under construction led to some interesting conversations about product selection, with windows and doors a highlight. Ted and Andrea showed us their beautiful new Schüco windows and doors and told us the story of their product selection process, also described in their blog.

Ted and Andrea had quite a challenge finding products appropriate for Passive House-level efficiency. For residential construction, it's hard to find domestic windows (and doors) that achieve the level of quality and energy-efficient construction of top European companies.

Read the rest of the blog.

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