FAST FORWARD ANOTHER 10, 20, 50 YEARS to the state of green building and the average builder will be incorporating as many green building design techniques, construction methodologies, products and materials into their homes as the most cutting edge green builders are doing today. In a short, a massive shift is underway whereby today’s standard construction techniques are fast becoming obsolete. And I mean fast!
IN MY LAST BLOG, I PROPOSED THAT WHEN BUILDING GREEN we follow a variation of the 2400 year old Hippocratic Oath, primum non nocere (“above all else, do no harm”) as our 1st Commandment. I reinterpreted that oath from a business perspective as “above all else, do not leave any money on the table building green”.
I THINK SINCE YOU ONLY GET ONE FIRST COMMANDMENT it should be an important one and I believe some variation on the Hippocratic Oath of the 4th century BC is of such magnitude. You know, primum non nocere, “first, do no harm”. I guess back in the day when medicine was really in it’s infancy, Hippocrates, the father of western medicine got together with some other doctors and they agreed on some ground rules for the practice of medicine including one that essentially said, before we try to fix the patient, let’s at least agree we will not make things worse by harming him or her.
HOUSTON. THE TOWN I LIVE IN. THE SELF PROCLAIMED ENERGY-CAPITAL OF THE WORLD is trying to reinvent itself as the Energy Savings Capital of the World. Our previous Mayor, Bill White, former Deputy Secretary of Energy under President Clinton made national headlines a few years ago for offering refuge to Louisiana victims of Hurricane Ike. Other less visible efforts during his administration and the current administration of Anise Parker will however will have far greater and long lasting impacts for Houston and Gulf Coast region.
I JUST READ THE FOLLOWING STORY to the listeners of our radio program this past Saturday and I thought you would enjoy reading it yourself. It comes from Page Ivery, an Associated Press Writer reporting from Richburg, S.C.-
IT'S FALL! Everybody’s’ favorite time of year right? Down here in the south after six months of intense, searing, stifling heat 24/7 we are glad the first cool front has arrived. Summer vacations are over, kids are back in school and our clients are getting ready for the holidays, for winter and for the new year.
That means their attention turns to their home! Now they are dreaming of what they need remodeled by the holidays and what large projects they want to plan over the winter and break ground on in the Spring! Maybe with a little luck this will be their last year in their home and next year we will begin building their dream green home!
I AM SITTING HERE AT MY COMPUTER IN SOUTEAST TEXAS during the heart of hurricane season. As some of you know from my past blogs I’ve lived through 7.6 earthquakes and wildfires in Southern California, 4’ of flood water in my home in Cypress Texas, been chased into basements during tornado warnings and chased out of town by hurricanes & tsunamis more times than I can count.
IN MY LAST BLOG I WROTE ABOUT OUR DESIGN-BUILD REMODELING COMPANY, Brothers Strong was surviving these times of economic uncertainty. I also offered anecdotal hope on how our project mix is changing and why I believe our business is already seeing the beginning of the end of the downturn.
NOW, MAYBE I'VE BEEN READING TOO MUICH STEPHEN AMBROSE lately but at the moment I believe the lights over head are fireworks and not incoming artillery. In fact I believe they are signaling an end to the slow down for our company’s two businesses. At a minimum, we are at the bottom of the cycle and recent substantial positive events in our business give us cause for considerable optimism.
In my next blog I will report on our green new construction pipeline at GreenHaus Builders but for now let’s look at the remodeling side of our business with Brothers Strong and see just how green it is. At Brothers Strong, our design-build remodeling company, we have received certification on two NAHB ANSI remodels (1st gold remodel in Texas and a bronze) this year, we have a third ANSI remodeling project under construction (bronze) and two more in design (silver and bronze).
WITH THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF$2 BILLION FOR SOLAR plants in the US you better believe we are going to be seeing both price drops and improved product efficiencies as manufacturers and installers fight for your business. The $1/2 Billion going to Abound Solar Manufacturing in Colorado and Indiana will in particular benefit those of us interested in solar technologies for our homes. Unfortunately many builders only equate solar technology with solar panels on their homes, producing electricity and “getting off the grid”. That is, never having to pay for electricity again.
Solar power has great curb appeal and is a noble consideration in that it reduces demand for traditional energy producing technologies that pollute the environment. However, with current economies in terms of saving money the cost vs. benefit usually just does not add up In southeast Texas a typical solar pv installation will cost about $ 25,000-$ 30,000.00 not deducting for the federal energy tax credit. And it is important to note there are no state or local tax credits available for this installation at this time in this part of the country. (To confirm exactly what rebates are available in your area visit www.dsireusa.org for a complete listing based on where you live.)
FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT COULD NOT MAKE THE TRIP out the NAHB’s National Green Building Conference in Raleigh last month, let me share with you what I learned in no particular order.
Green Has Value! In case there was any doubt the “Market Value Studies on Certified Residential Properties” presentation put that to rest. Looking at data from 1-1-09 through 4-30-10 I learned 3rd Party Green Certified homes in Portland sold at a 3-5% price premium over non-certified homes and they spent 18 less days on the market! In Seattle the premium was 9.6% which translates into a premium of $ 20/square foot!
If you are having trouble with your appraisals, ask your bank for a “competent” appraiser. You and your client have the right to request, or suggest an appraiser with proven competency. Dave Porter also recommends you purchase the Marshall & Swift Green Cost Guide and get it in the hands of your lender and appraiser.
John Replogle, the CEO of Burt’s Bees reminded us, as leaders of our companies, that there are benefits of having BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and then went on to describe theirs. Me? I came home and freaked out my partners and production staff by suggesting we eliminate all dumpsters from our job sites. Not just the dumpsters but the waste that would fill them! I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
Green Building is still hot! My 2-day class I taught, Green Building for Building Professionals, and the 2-day class right next door (Advanced Green Building: Building Science) were both packed! We had over 70 people in each class both days! I hope you were there. If you weren’t I hope for your sake your competition wasn’t!
Networking was full of unexpected surprises. The vendors were approachable; they wanted to talk about what I needed, listen to what I had to say and did not push a hard sell. They are learning about this green stuff awfully fast, I just don’t know if we are keeping pace with them.
Talk about surprises, even the USGBC had a booth! With top level attendance the enthusiasm was high. I am absolutely certain that in the next 12 months, I will be able to directly link at least $ 250,000 in revenue to the networking I did. For me networking is not just fun, it is business and for me there is no more intimate show in the country where networking fanatics like myself could get it going on.
Finally, I learned that Raleigh, NC is a really cool place. We ate at lots of independent vegetarian restaurants. We experienced a nice open air art market right by the convention while were there. We took a cab out of town and ran a ½ Marathon. Downtown was wireless so we got in work between play. The point being: life is short so don’t work yourself to death. Take a break. If you are trying to make a living as a green builder or remodeler like I am I know you’ve earned it. So mark your calendars and make the show next year. I’ll be there and I hope I see you-instead of your competition!
OK, I’LL BE RIGHT UP FRONT ON WHERE I STAND with the last year’s worth of debate over health care reform: I pretty much support most of it. Not all of it, not 100%, but I do believe in Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that “you can judge a society by how they treat their weakest members”. Will this be an American axiom, one day? I hope so but apparently when it comes to the health care debate we are not there yet.
AS AMERICANS, WE SPEND +90% OF OUR TIME INDOORS
, oftentimes inside homes that are built tighter than ever. But since our homes, especially those built before 2006, usually lack the proper ventilation as defined by ASHRAE, we are also getting sicker than ever simply by breathing that unventilated and inadequately filtered air. Consider the following information from the American Lung Association:
- 5.9%-10.5% of Americans suffer from asthma depending on the state you live in
- 12.4 million children under age 18 had an asthma attack in 2006. It is the most common chronic disorder in childhood
- $ 14.7 Billion is the direct cost of asthma related health care
- $ 5 Billion is the indirect cost of the same
- 66% of the adults that die each year from asthma are women