Decumanus Green | Blog
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Design with intelligence. That is the first principle of our design process. As important as aesthetic character may be, if a house is not designed with intelligence, with a proper understanding of how a house will function and age, it can lead to headache upon......

In his A Short History of Nearly Everything, the travel writer Bill Bryson calls water a “murderous substance.” Insurance companies have institutionalized their hatred of water, as it is by far the largest cause of insurance loses to homes. They often cancel homeowner policies after......

A net zero home is a house that produces as much energy as it consumes each year. Because Net Zero Homes are tied to the grid, they can draw electricity when their renewable source can’t meet demand and sell it back to the grid when......

The Problem of “Green Building”   As a student and aspiring practitioner of green building, I have observed with some frustration a number of impediments to its growth. The first of these is simply a reflection our social and economic reality. Our world is developing......

The snow melted and the timber frame crew jumped to work. The entire frame was hand cut off site by Hardwick Post and Beam. The crew worked quickly and raised the frame in less than a week. Here the first of four bents, or sections......

Our weatherization crew does a lot of work on roofs. Whether it is installing a roof flapper for a bath vent or creating a ridge vent to get moisture out of the attic, crew members find themselves climbing and working on steep roofs that can......

What do you feel you are born to do? Is it to Run? In his popular bestseller, Born to Run, Christopher McDougall marshals evidence from anthropological studies, from a hidden tribe in Mexico and from an elite group of superathletes to argue that as a......

We are in the design phase of constructing our first Zero Net Energy capable home. In our last new home construction project our goals were more modest: we wanted to meet the unofficial standard for a super-insulated home as defined by the Building Science Corporation; and we......

My father is a mechanical engineer with heart and a conscience. It is just those qualities that drew him to Volkswagen’s fabulous turbo-diesel engine. The engineer in him was inspired by the technical competence embodied in its design. His heart was fired by its gutsy......

One of the things I love about the sustainable building community is that it shuns dogmatism. We have innovators and leaders within our community who are eager to follow the line of best practices, wherever it may lead. There is very little axe grinding and......

In November of this year, NESEA will be hosting the Building Energy Bottom Lines Summit. As a member of the Bottom Lines program, as well as a participant on its steering committee, I have been mulling over the purpose of such a summit; while on......

In our weatherization work we blow a lot of cellulose insulation into attics, a whole lot. I love cellulose insulation. It is relatively inexpensive. It is made from 85% post consumer recycled materials (essentially shredded newspapers and pulp fiction). It has compelling r-values and it......

I am a member of Bottom Lines, a peer review network of builders and architects sponsored by NESEA. The fundamental mission of Bottom Lines is to support companies in their efforts to attend to a triple bottom line: profits, people and planet. The group has......

Have you ever seen one of those remora fish cleaning the inside of a shark’s mouth? That has to be one of nature’s most terrifying jobs. But the little guys just soldier on, swimming into the massive toothy mouths of nature’s perfect killer so they......

Early last fall the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) once again named Massachusetts as the most energy efficient state in the country. Massachusetts qualified for the distinction in no small part because of its utility sponsored efficiency program, known as Mass Save. The......

The Greenberg Residence project is nearing completion.  Most of the remaining work will be completed by Laurel. As I noted in an earlier post (Nov. 2013), our performance goal for this job was to design and build an affordable house that would meet the Mass......

Wes, one of our lead carpenters, has had a summer window cleaning business on the side for many years.  He has a stable of happy, loyal customers, a stable that is getting larger every year.  Until this summer, Wes has scheduled his window cleaning jobs......

It is 9 AM Saturday morning April 19, and I am preparing for the arrival of 5 friends who have eagerly agreed to travel to the wilds of Cummington, Ma. to spend the day doing physical labor on my under-construction house. All week the weather......

In the movie, The Company Men, we see what happens to people when corporations are awarded personhood, both legally and emotionally, and shareholders, driven by an obsession with daily increases in stock prices and a rabid fear of price falls, are given the reins of......

We are currently doing weatherization work in a late 19th Century house in the Town of Lenox. This house presents all the usual problems of large, older homes, homes built with absolutely no regard for the cost of energy. The clients came to us complaining......

Slipping then digging, digging then slipping, my valiant little Prius struggled up the steep drive. I reached the top and climbed out on to foreboding, icy ground. I felt like Armstrong stepping on the moon. Cummington is a mere forty minutes from my home and......

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand portrays the conflict between two world-historical forces. Her Eugene Lawson, the “banker with a heart” announces proudly, if a bit plaintively, “I am perfectly innocent, since I lost my money… for a good cause. My motives were pure. I wanted......

The exterior of the shell of the Greenberg residence is just about finished. We have made it as airtight as we could get it. We won’t know how successful we were until we run a blower door test in a month or so. We now......

I love this house. It is located in Adams, Massachusetts, on the eastern part of town with a stunning view of Mt. Greylock. In my mind it is a perfectly proportioned house with tasteful trim and carefully conceived details. It calls to mind Virginia Lee......

Paul Gilding’s The Great Disruption is quite the read. Marx-like, he predicts the collapse of global capitalism under the pressure of its own forces. His math is simple and hard to refute. Capitalism lives and breathes on numerical growth. Our planet and global civilization are......

We are building a cutting-edge, super-insulated house. But the nature of its construction, at least in the area of framing, is not all that different from any other house; it just has an extra set of walls inside the exterior walls to make for a......

Following the advice given by the King to Wonderland’s White Rabbit, I shall begin this blog, well, at the beginning. This blog is about green building, and I guess a good way to begin going on about green building is to define its meaning and......