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Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

As a veteran reporter, Matt Power has covered virtually every aspect of design and construction. His award-winning articles often tackle tough environmental challenges in a way that makes them relevant to both professionals and end users. An expert on both building science and green building, he has a long history of asking hard questions--and adding depth and context as he unfolds complex issues.
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Recent Posts

Building Science: The Pathway to Resilience

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Oct 30, 2017 2:20:06 PM

Preparing future homes to survive climate-induced shocks begins now.

Builders face tough times. Each year brings more restrictive land use, rising material costs, stricter building codes (in some areas) and the ever-looming threat of litigation. Of course, sometimes the industry backs outdated ways of building (opposition to low-flow toilets a few years ago was not a high mark). But builder groups in California were right to resist a new bill that holds them responsible for the unpaid wages of their subcontractors’ employees. We need our best and brightest focused on what really matters—building high-performance housing—not fighting legal battles.

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Traffic Jams and Sprawl Data Contradict U.S. Desire for Walkability

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Oct 5, 2017 10:05:43 AM

Despite surveys suggesting that Americans prefer walkable neighborhoods, only 2.7 percent actually walk or bike to work.

THE INFOGRAPHIC BELOW dispels many misconceptions about the "typical" worker in the U.S. Although the percentage of people who walk or bike to work has grown slightly, by 1.4 percent, the number of drivers on the road has INCREASED by 8.6 million since 2006. It's not your imagination. Traffic IS getting worse.

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Smart Thermostats Offer a Back Door to Save Flood-Damaged Properties

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Sep 28, 2017 10:45:07 AM

With their ability to monitor and adjust temperature, humidity and the presence of electricity they may be the last best hope for evacuated homeowners.

FOUR BRANDS of so-called smart thermostats now dominate the U.S.: Ecobee, Honeywell, Emerson Sensi, and Nest. The degree of market penetration varies by region, but more importantly—as our Cognition database research has shown, the level of adoption is strongly affected by price and utility-driven rebates (if any). In states without rebates or energy efficiency incentives, adoption tends to lag.

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Sustaining a Triple Bottom Line

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Aug 10, 2017 9:55:46 AM

Companies that integrate economics with environmental and social concerns also tend to outperform their less-savvy competitors.

IT'S NOT FOR NOTHING that Amazon bet big on acquiring Whole Foods last month. Sure, the food giant was floundering a bit, as other retailers adopted the same “crunchy” product offerings at lower prices. But in the upscale mental and physical space, Whole Foods still had a towering presence. In other words, Amazon bought more than just a grocery chain. They bought access to a certain kind of buyer, via a company with its “triple bottom line” already established.  Amazon paid $13.4 billion.

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Rather than Fight Solar, Miami Builders Could Trumpet Its Resale Advantages

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jul 31, 2017 11:52:59 AM

A new solar mandate in South Florida has irritated the local builder association, but the upside may please the new homeowners.

Photo: southfloridasolarpanels.org

Solar in Florida is tricky. Utilities have succesfully kept one of the sunniest U.S. spots for solar from becoming a leader in solar installs. But South Florida's politicians are scared, and rightly so. Even the most benign climate change scenarios put much of this region underwater, as ice melts and sea levels rise. What's a mayor to do?

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Future Kitchens: What the Trends Say

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jul 20, 2017 10:46:18 AM

Current preferences around eating, cooking and lifestyle anticipate a shift toward faster, urban lifestyles, designed more for socializing than cooking. Forget what you see on television or on cooking shows—future householders will cook less, order prepackaged food online and treat the kitchen more as a sanctuary than a meal factory.

Look at the trends behind the trends. That was the theme of a presentation I did a few months ago on the future of “green” kitchens. After many hours of research and number crunching,

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Tips and Tactics for Selling Wifi-Controlled Heating and Cooling

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jul 14, 2017 8:42:50 AM

A round-table luncheon sponsored by Rheem, brought together builders and tech experts to explore the future of smart HVAC.

NOT FAR FROM THE PCBC EXHIBITION in San Diego last month, some of our Green Builder staff joined leading green pros for a lunch brainstorming session. The guest list included building specialists, purchasing agents, electronics specifiers, and builders. The topic du jour, what will it take to bring home energy management into the mainstream of homebuilding?

“First of all, we need to realize that this is just beginning,” noted Erik Randolph, owner of Home Technology Center in San Diego. “We haven’t even learned to crawl yet in the energy management business. But we need to learn to get up and walk, then run.”

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Flex House: Show Stealer

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jun 30, 2017 5:00:00 PM

At PCBC in San Diego, The Flex House became the toast of the show floor, winning high praise from both exhibitors and attendees.

Reaction to the great unveiling of The Flex House in June surprised even the Shelter Dynamics team that built it. As the follow-up to the previous year’s “The Arc House,” this design proved even more seductive. Even as we finished installing the last pieces of furniture and patching minor drywall dings, we had other exhibitors and exhibition workers asking for an early tour.

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Building Intelligence: A New Path to Multi-family Success

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jun 19, 2017 4:19:04 PM

A growing list of machine-to-machine solutions vanquish many profit-killing variables of building rental properties.

The front end of a development project, once you get past the planning and permitting phase, is typically where good builders can really shine. And if you’re a reader of this magazine, chances are you’re already pushing the envelope in terms of craftsmanship, home performance and scheduling. But are you following the market, or leading the way? If current trends continue, the future of most residential construction lies in cities, not the old model of single-family production homes on greenfields. Sure, there will always be a market for one-off, high-end custom homes, but is this how you want to spend your twilight years, serving an ever-smaller group of ever-more-demanding clients?

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Northeast Window and Door Association Doth Protest New Warranty Rules Too Much

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jun 5, 2017 4:14:57 PM

A bill under consideration would require window, siding and roofing companies to cover labor costs under existing warranties. What are they afraid of?

Why is it that associations always seem to begin every political discussion with the word "no?" We see it in both national and state level associations for most industries. In the building industry, prominent examples are the fight to keep sprinklers out of residential codes, the battle against low-flow toilets. They lost both of those, thank goodness. Millions of gallons of water have been saved, and not a few lives.

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Shattering the Status Quo: A Challenge to Window Makers

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 5, 2017 12:09:19 PM

It’s time to rethink the short life cycle of modern windows. Composite frames and triple-panes are great, but 20 years of viability is not good enough.

AS PART OF MY RESEARCH in selecting our “Hot 50” green products this year, I attended the Design & Construction Week exhibition in Orlando. The experience left me optimistic. After attending this show for 24 years, I can ignore the “let’s go back to the golden age of the 1950s” politics of NAHB executives, and look at how the industry has progressed in many ways from what it was 25 years ago. The business of building homes as a whole is a lot classier. The show floor looks a lot less like a Vegas strip club and more like an upscale model home. The food is better, and while diversity is still limited, the gender gap is beginning to close at the executive level.

This year at the show, I began to clearly see opportunities for “white space” that the industry is ignoring. I think what changed is that the industry in many ways has plateaued with regard to sustainability. It has tweaked and upgraded about as far as it can go. It can only raise the bar through innovation.

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New Electric Pickup Truck Claims to Save $30,000 in Total Vehicle Costs Over 12 Years.

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 3, 2017 10:43:58 AM

The Workhorse W-15, built in Ohio, costs about $10,000 more than a gas-powered truck, and has an 80-mile all-electric range with extended mileage capabilities.

If you ever saw the documentary, ''Who killed the Electric Car?'' you may recall that one of the tragic heroes of that tale was the poor little Ford Ranger that had been converted into an electric vehicle. Decades later, the elecric pickup could be about to make a triumphant return, thanks to an Ohio based company called Workhorse.

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At the Local Level, Sustainability Rules

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Apr 19, 2017 9:06:57 AM

Outside the D.C. bubble, politicians see green issues as common sense priorities.

I’m always excited to introduce you, our readers, to some of the best green projects of the year. And yes, once more you’re going see some real showstoppers in our annual awards lineup. But before you get there, I want to mention what happened in Orlando in January, when we held our first Sustainability Symposium.

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