“Ask an Expert” with Kris Knutson

Simple things to help improve your indoor air quality: Part 2

Indoor air quality is an important topic all year long – not just during winter when we’re spending more time indoors. Today we continue our series on simple things you can do to improve your indoor air quality, which we started back in March.

Read part 1 of this post.

In part 1, we told you that indoor air quality should be approached with four principles in mind: Elimination, reduction, ventilation and filtration. Part 1 focused on elimination and reduction. Today we are going to address ventilation, and more specifically, spot ventilation.
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The Curiel Residence: Straw Bale Offers Affordability, Comfort and Beauty

Kim and Fred Curiel made the construction of their new home a community affair, bringing friends and neighbors together one weekend to cut and stack the straw bales that would eventually be the exterior walls of their new home.  Years after completion, the Curiels are still inviting the community into their home to share the importance of a healthy indoor environment and how straw bale walls keep their interior comfortable year round.  GreenPoint Rated recently sat down with Kim to talk about her family’s original motivation to use straw bales as a building material and learn about her favorite outcome from the home after living in it for almost a decade.

The exterior of the Curiels' straw bale home. The deep porch overhang adds further insulation from weather.

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“Ask an Expert” with Kris Knutson

Winter weather has finally arrived and we are spending more time indoors.  What can we do to improve indoor air quality?

Good indoor air quality (IAQ) is important regardless of the time of year.  The EPA estimates that  “on average, Americans spend about 90  percent or more of their time indoors” and that “indoor levels of pollutants may be two to  five times higher, and occasionally more than 100 times higher, than outdoor levels.”  Poor IAQ has been connected to attention deficit disorder and asthma in children. Although IAQ is a complex subject, these four simple, core principles can help guide your thinking: elimination, reduction, ventilation and filtration.

I will address the four core principles in a 3 part series. In this first part, I’ll talk about elimination and reduction.

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Villa Terra: A New Home Built with Earth Walls and Salvaged Materials

© Frank Paul Perez, Red Lily Studios

Villa Terra‘s beauty has just as much to do with what you cannot see, as it does with what you can. Within the 18-inch thick walls of the 3,200 square-foot house is enough dirt to moderate the sun’s heat throughout the year. That means the interior stays cool during the summer months and warm during the winter months. Although considered a brand new home at the time of its completion in 2005, its historical character is drawn from the many salvaged materials integrated both underfoot and overhead. Read on to get an insider’s perspective on Villa Terra from its homeowner and architect, Noel Cross of Noel Cross Architects.

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Green Home Remodeling – One Room at a Time

Northern California residents, join BuildItGreen for one of these FREE homeowner workshops, and get started on your green dream home with tips from GreenPoint Rated today!

Feb 1 | 6:30 – 8pm | Burlingame | RSVP
Feb 2 | 5:30 – 7pm | Berkeley | RSVP
Feb 4 | 1 – 2:30pm | San Francisco | RSVP
Feb 11 | 10 – 11:30am | Walnut Creek | RSVP

Read on to find out more about the workshops.

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Taiji Residence: A Serene Sustainable Residence in Menlo Park

Jackie and Scott Wood’s residence not only has a serene space for their daily practice of Taiji, a soft form of Chinese martial arts, their new home also incorporates a number of passive features resulting in a home that exceeds California’s energy code by 84%. Built from the ground-up, the 3,320 square-foot residence was completed in 2007 by Osborne Architects.

Integrated in the passive solar design of their extraordinary sustainable residence is highly rated recycled-content insulation (to maintain a steady interior temperature year-round), a hydronic radiant-floor heating system with a high-efficiency condensing boiler (to warm-up the interiors as needed during the colder months), and several Energy Star ceiling fans throughout (in place of a central air conditioning system). Now that she has lived in the house for five years, we took a moment to interview the homeowner, Jackie, to ask her if she still loves her home as much as the day she moved in.

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