First Annual Gulf Coast Green Symposium on Building

Architects, builders, and concerned citizens gathered in Houston, April 29, 2005 for the first annual Gulf Coast Green Symposium on Building. With the recent series on air pollution in the Houston Chronicle, it was no surprise that this conference was well attended. Several prominent stakeholders spoke including Mayor Bill White. Representatives from the US Department of Energy building technologies program, the US Green Building Council, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Houston Advanced Research Center, and the Associated General Contractors partnered their efforts to make a dream from 2 years ago become reality.

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Home Plan Websites

There are many, many home plan websites on the Internet such as:, and After some research, it seems as though the home plan sites are good for getting ideas, but are basic and apparently do not have the HVAC, plumbing, electrical included. For this you may need a local architect/designer which somewhat negates the value of the plans. and can help you with the other parts.

Garage Straightening 101

Here is a well illustrated article on straightening a leaning garage with a come-along (winch). I’ve used this technique on a garage with a much greater lean than this one with success. Other mounting methods such as a U-bolt and mounting the winch on the inside of the garage may be easier: ‘…a parallelogram can be forced back into a rectangle, if one diagonal (the longest diagonal) is pulled together. Also, the shorter diagonal could be pushed apart. Which method is chosen depends on the tools at hand. I happened to own a pair of 2 Ton cable winches (also called a “come-along”) as well as 6 Ton and 12 Ton hydraulic bottle jacks. I chose the weakest of my tools for the first attempt…’ Do this at your own risk, but it worked well for me.

Insulation in Hot, Humid Climates

Ever notice how This Old House and many publications are geared toward the Northeast? Well, here is an excellent PDF presentation by Building Science corporation on insulating in hot/humid climates like the South: ‘…Too much ventilation may even cause
damage by cooling off the top of the insulation. We have taken
cases where excess ventilation will cool the top surface of the
insulating material�So too much ventilation may be dangerous
just as well as too little…’
They also have Joe’s Top Ten List of dumb things to do in the South for buildings.

Discover: Robotic House Builder

Discover magazine has an article on a ‘Whole-House Machine’ which can build mortal walls among other things. Overrated? Maybe. Interesting? Definitely: …In a sunny laboratory at the University of Southern California, a robotically controlled nozzle squeezes a ribbon of concrete onto a wooden plank. Every two minutes and 14 seconds, the nozzle completes a circuit, topping the previous ribbon with a fresh one. Thus a five-foot-long wall rises�a wall built without human intervention.

The wall is humble but portentous. �If you can build a wall, you can build a house,�…