The Torch - December 2011

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February 2011
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The Torch Offical Publication of Green Builder Coalition


Activities

Green Builder® Coalition, Others Stand Up for Low-Rise Residential

Silhouetted peopleAt last month’s International Green Construction Code (IgCC) Final Action Hearings in Phoenix, code officials, building officials, industry stakeholders and other interested parties gathered in Phoenix for the third and final round of public hearings.

Coming into the week, there were two big questions: Would this code pertain to low-rise residential structures, and what effect would GG34 have on the final draft? Once the dust settled, the industry is left with a code that is certainly a step in the right direction. However, its adoptability has to be questioned.

In the spirit of brevity, we won’t go into the 2.5 year saga of low-rise residential’s place within the IgCC. (You can read the unabridged story here.) Suffice to say it was in the original draft, and then it was removed by the ICC Board prior to public version 2.0. The Green Builder® Coalition was joined by representatives from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), MC2 Mathis Consulting, the Energy Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC) and 2 building officials (Minnesota and Arizona) in testifying in favor of re-introducing low-rise residential into the IgCC. The rationale of the group was that there is currently nothing, within the IgCC or elsewhere, that is easily adoptable and enforceable, should a jurisdiction wish to implement minimum code requirements for sustainable, low-rise residential construction.

The members of this group, along with the Southern Nevada Water Authority and a building official from New Jersey, developed a comprehensive public comment after the second round of hearings to address this void. The comment, which can be downloaded in its entirety here, covers commonly accepted principals of sustainable construction (energy, water, site, materials, IAQ). This baseline residential green building code is an open and public document. Anyone can utilize it for their community without copyright concern. (All we ask is that we’re notified of its use, or proposed use, so we can help promote your efforts.)

Testifying in opposition to this proposal were representatives from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), Buildings Owners & Managers Association (BOMA), Window & Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), and 2 building officials (Tennessee and Utah). Arguments ranged from concern over potentially higher initial costs to the existence of ICC 700 to general anti-regulation sentiments.

A representative from Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL; a DOE contractor) offered neutral testimony. And, while not a member of the code development group referenced above, it should be noted that the American Wood Council spoke in favor of re-introducing low-rise residential, though their support was really behind re-inserting ICC 700 as an option.

After hearing all the testimony, the governmental voting members voted approximately 2-1 to disapprove the motion. Therefore, the IgCC only covers commercial and some high-rise residential structures. And the latter classification is now coming under attack from NAHB as they have lobbied the Board of Directors of the International Code Council (ICC) to have all residential stripped from the IgCC. This is reminiscent of their lobbying effort to remove low-rise residential after the 1st public hearing committee voted to retain those structures in the IgCC.

Prior to the hearings, there was a lot of buzz surrounding GG34 and its desire to reduce the length of the code by over 70%. The proponents of this movement were, through a series of proposals in almost every chapter of the code, trying to reduce the document from 220+ pages to 50+ pages. Allegedly, at the core of this movement was a backlash towards the regulation of green. A more marketable way of saying that is GG34’s intent was to simplify the code. After Day 1 of the final action hearings, it certainly seemed like GG34 was going to sweep the IgCC right out the door. The principal members of the GG34 movement only spoke on a handful of proposals. They made their identity and position clear, by their promotional buttons and testimony, respectively. Of the 21 proposals heard on Day 1, 14 were disapproved, which further reduced the length of the code. GG34 Part 1 passed, which took a 2/3 majority, no small feat.

But then, Day 2 came and the tide went out on GG34. So, too, did the attendance. On Day 1, one electronic vote garnered 190 votes. But on Day 2, that number dropped to 130, or almost 32% fewer voting members. A lot of the voters sympathetic to the GG34 movement may have made their voice heard on Day 1, but then must have caught a flight back home. Throughout the rest of the week, GG34 Parts 2 through 11 were dismissed. Only GG34 Part 12 and Part 13 would join Part 1 in the victory column. One attendee stated that had all parts of GG34 been considered on Day 1, it would have carried the day… and the green code with it. It’s hard to argue with that opinion.

ICC logo

It certainly seems like the lowered attendance numbers had a lot to do with the failure of the GG34 movement. On Saturday afternoon, there were 55 votes captured in one electronic vote. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, testimony went past 1:00am CT. There were 34 hearty souls still dedicating their time and opinions to the proposals presented. According to one source, the lowest total seen during the week was 17 voters. However, the attendance numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. Those who voted all week long fully understood the intention of the code, and had a respect and appreciation for those who had devoted the last 2.5 years to its creation. They weren’t about to shrink a document that had been reviewed and analyzed by so many.

But now comes the complicated part. Some jurisdictions have already adopted earlier versions of the IgCC. One theory is they will simply update what they’ve already approved. But what about those jurisdictions who voted with the GG34 movement on Day 1? They’re not going to get the drastically reduced code they sought, so will they adopt it at all? What about those jurisdictions who were looking to the ICC for low-rise residential guidance? They, too, are left to contemplate what their next steps will be. Finally, everything that was approved or disapproved in Phoenix is merely a recommendation to the ICC Board. They retain the right to produce whatever they see fit. Will they circumvent their governmental voting members and manipulate the code into something that fits better with their business goals, or adheres to any pre-existing business agreements?

We don’t have any inside knowledge on this, but we’re guessing the last thing ICC wants is a code few adopt. Let’s face it, their business is selling books and educating people on how to enforce the content of those books. The mixed messages heard in Phoenix provide a murky forecast for the IgCC. If you’re a proponent of green building, that’s probably not the verdict you really wanted to see.

We will keep you posted on any new developments as the IgCC moves toward publication in March 2012.

(Portions of this article appeared on Construction Law Musings)


Appearances

The Green Builder® Coalition to Exhibit at Builders' Show; Present at RESNET 2012

In booth W4671, Green Builder® Media and the Green Builder® Coalition will be sharing exciting new information. Stop by our booth to learn more about the following initiatives:

The International Builders' Show will be held February 8-11, 2012 at the Ornage County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

The Coalition will also be presenting a breakout session at the 2012 RESNET Conference.

Titled “Three Essential Components of a Successful Green Business”, the 90-minute session will be hosted by Ron Jones, Board Chairman, and Mike Collignon, Executive Director.

The RESNET 2012 conference is scheduled for February 27-29, 2012 in Austin, TX. The theme is, “Let’s Get Down to Business.” For complete conference information, please click here.

If you are in attendance at either of these industry events, we’d like the opportunity to say hello.


As I Am...

Ally FerreiraAlly Ferreira

Each issue, we’ll sit down with a green building professional to gain a personal insight into their motivations, inspirations and experiences. This issue, we feature Ally Ferreira, President of XiA: Installation Excellence in Action.

The Torch:  What motivated you to enter the sustainability industry?

Ally Ferreira: I have been in the remodeling industry, specifically flooring installation, for almost 20 years. 

Flooring is a field I that I made a very conscious decision to “enter”.  Remodeling and Building are also fields that I can remember “entering”. 

Sustainability, however, is a responsibility and not a field, to me.  The importance of Green Building came to me in the course of my professional development as a growing awareness and clicked inside of me as a movement that makes perfect sense if we intend to continue to exist.

In other words, we are all professionals in one chosen career path or another, responsible for designing, developing and/or improving structures on this planet, in service to the inhabitants of the planet.  How can we ignore the importance of saving the planet that we are building upon?  I feel that the urgency involved in sustaining our earth should be motivating everyone in the same direction: Forward.  Sustainable Development offers the only option which will take us in this direction.

TT: Describe your first green project. Did you encounter any hurdles on that first project? (If yes, how did you overcome them?)

AF: When I began the remodel of my first home, I knew that for every improvement I was considering, I simply would do things that would save energy and use products that would not contaminate the environment.  I had to do my homework.  It took more time and I quickly realized how little I knew… and how resistant the builders were to consider new ways of building.  This was years ago and there did not exist the amount of information that is available today.  It did cost more money, initially; however, the return on this investment both financially and environmentally go without saying.  Every remodel since that first project has been a new adventure in “green” education and effort.   The remodel projects that I have had “green” input on, will always be structures that are a little greener and a little cleaner because of my involvement.

TT: What building product or technique do you think will be the next “game changer”?

AF: This is tricky for me because I am a “flooring girl”.  In my world, I am nuts about Cork and Bamboo as the flooring “game changers”.

Bamboo flooring is made from a fast-growing renewable timber (technically its grass and it grows wild). It is naturally anti-bacterial, water-resistant and extremely durable.  Cork flooring is made by removing the bark of the Cork Oak, without harming the tree (if harvested correctly); as such, it is a renewable and sustainable resource. It is naturally anti-microbial and has excellent insulation properties, ensuring minimal heat loss and comfortable warm walking surface.  Cork is also low in VOC emissions. 

I am very proud of the flooring industry, as a whole.  I feel the major manufacturers are truly taking action in research and development to change our industry.  There has been a great effort and focus on implementing new materials and manufacturing practices that contribute to sustainability.

On the other side of my little world is my own, personal passion: Reuse in building.  We are so wasteful.  Our society has had a tremendous focus on recycling and kudos to us, but there is so much more that can be done.  In building, there are so many materials that are being discarded recklessly that can be reused by others.

TT: Who inspires you the most?

AF: Socrates, Greek Philosopher 469 BC – 399 BC: “Let him who would move the world first move himself.”

We can change the world and we can make impacts that will save the resources on this planet.  But we have to do it. Every one of us has to do something and we must be aligned in our vision and in our values in order to attain our goals.

We each need to move ourselves in order to move the world.

TT: If you had it to do over again, what profession would you choose?

AF: I got my degree in Communications and I speak about five languages.  I guess I could have translated something in all these years, but I was too busy doing what I am passionate about… making the planet a more lovely place to exist.

I would do the same thing.  I love what I do.  I can change a family’s life for the better by improving their home.  If I use sustainable building techniques and green products, then I have improved not only the cosmetics of their life but the overall quality and long term health of the all that enter the home.

TT: What do you enjoy the most when you’re not at work?

AF: I never work.  I have a tremendous passion for what I do and as such, it’s never been a job.  If it is not fun, I am not doing it!

I am a total homebody. I love to read, study languages and Philosophy and have always been a writer.

TT: What’s the most important piece of advice you’d like to pass along to others?

AF: So many of us have the mentality of “What difference does it make if I use these energy efficient/green products or methods – when no one else is?”

My philosophy is that “Every little bit helps and every person can help a little bit”.

We can make an impact as a whole but it certainly does begin with each of us and the little decisions that we make in our lives and businesses every day.

Consider poisons like asbestos and lead paint (in my field, two evils that we come up against often).  I wonder, armed with the knowledge that we have today and understanding the long-term health issues caused by using products that we know can and will harm human beings in the future, how is it still an option to use unsafe products and practices?

If we had access to the funding that has been and continues to be invested to raise awareness, write legislators, police and issue fines surrounding asbestos and lead paint – what great things could we do with these funds?

We don’t want to be looking at what other poisons we need to control and abate 10-20 years from now, if we can avoid it. And we most certainly can avoid it.


Benefit SpotlightAdvocacy

Advocacy

Our advocacy priorities are selected by our members. If you think about the vast ocean of public policy, it’s easy to imagine how quickly an advocacy organization’s message can become diluted by the sheer number of “top priorities” or how quickly its welcome from policymakers wears thin. Green Builder® Coalition’s advocacy will focus on a small number of “deep dives” into advocacy issues of greatest priority to our members.

We keep in touch with what our members want. Before we issue any public statement, we poll the applicable members to ensure we’re representing the interests of the majority. So, to that extent, the Coalition has been active in:

  • Trying to get low-rise residential back into the International Green Construction Code.
  • Supporting reform in the appraisal/mortgage industry through the SAVE Act.
  • Meeting with the North Carolina Governor’s staff to advocate for an increased energy code for the state. We were part of a large effort that ultimately was successful.
  • Gathering information for our Michigan members on code review changes in their state. Since our members drive our policy action, and we had a split vote on the course of action to take, we remained neutral on the subject.

It boils down to this: Coalition members have an equal voice, and each one is respected.


Job Opportunities

Below you will find job postings for green collar jobs around the country.

If you have a job opening you’d like to list here, please contact the Green Builder® Coalition at info@greenbuildercoalition.org.

CLEAResult (www.clearesult.com), an energy-optimization firm that designs and implements programs to help utilities manage load growth by helping customers identify energy-savings opportunities and implement energy-efficiency improvements, is currently hiring seasoned energy-efficiency engineers with commercial & industrial energy-auditing experience. These are full-time positions with full benefits.

Among other things, qualified engineers should have experience conducting building energy-use audits/analyses, identifying energy-efficiency opportunities, using energy-simulation/modeling tools such as DOE-2/eQUEST, performing energy-savings calculations, and developing measurement and verification (M&V) plans.  P.E. and/or C.E.M. certification is preferred.

The openings are located in various cities across the U.S.  Our offices are located in the following cities:  Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Columbus (OH), Dallas, Detroit, El Paso, Houston, Lansing (MI), Las Vegas, Little Rock, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Portland (OR), Reno and Washington, D.C.

If you are interested in any of the above job openings, please contact: 

James Hatheway
Recruiter
(512) 259-2383

jhatheway@clearesult.com 

Or apply via this website: www.clearesult.com


The Institute for Market Transformation (IMT; www.imt.org) is looking for a communications associate. This new position will assist the communications manager and all of IMT’s program staff with print and online publishing, media outreach, and social media engagement. It requires intellectual curiosity and creativity - the successful candidate will be someone who can discover what’s important or exciting in a policy brief and express that to a wide audience. S/he will need to be flexible and comfortable with multitasking.

Exceptional writing and editing skills are required. Also required: a strong interest in the environment, energy policy and/or green buildings; a Bachelor’s degree (or higher), preferably in the liberal arts; and 1-2 years’ experience. Familiarity with Expression Engine or WordPress is a plus, as is an interest in infographics. Please submit two writing samples with your resume.

The position is located in Washington, DC, and will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is found. Salary is commensurate with experience.

To view the full job description, please click here: http://www.journalismjobs.com/Job_Listing.cfm?JobID=1301417  

To apply, please send a resume, cover letter, two writing samples and salary requirements to jobs@imt.org.


Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP; www.neep.org) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region to accelerate energy efficiency in the building sector through public policy, program strategies, and education.

NEEP is seeking a Director of Market Transformation Strategies to direct NEEP’s regional projects to accelerate the adoption of high efficiency products, services and practices in residential and commercial markets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. A member of NEEP’s Senior Management Team, this full-time position manages NEEP’s Market Strategies Team, reports to the Executive Director and interfaces with NEEP’s Program and Strategic Planning Board Committee.

To view the entire job description, please click here: http://neep.org/uploads/About%20NEEP/job%20ops/NEEP_Director_of_Market_Transformation_JD_11.17.11.pdf

Email or mail cover letter and resume to:

Bob McTighe, Director of Financial & Administrative Services
bmctighe@neep.org
Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Inc.
91 Hartwell Avenue
Lexington, Massachusetts 02421

No phone calls please.


The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA; www.eia.gov) collects, analyzes and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.

The EIA is looking for a handful of people to join their team of professionals who provide comprehensive, reliable data, analysis and forecasts to industry, government, media, academia, and the American public. Starting General Schedule salaries range from $42,000 to $124,000, however, executives can earn upwards of $179,700. They are searching for candidates who qualify as:

While the EIA prefers degrees in mathematics, statistics, economics, operations research and engineering for entry-level positions, degrees in social sciences or business may qualify as well, especially if you have an emphasis on statistical data gathering and analysis. They also are looking for graduates who have taken courses in regression and linear modeling, exploratory data analysis, and in econometrics. Beyond the technical qualifications, EIA seeks intelligent, flexible and motivated employees who have good team skills and who like to think critically, innovate and solve problems.

The EIA currently has 10 job openings, but you need to act fast. All 10 positions close on December 16th.

To view more information about the positions, please click here: http://www.eia.gov/about/careers


Any listing above does not constitute an endorsement by the Green Builder® Coalition. We do not have any professional or financial stake in the preceding information. Rather, we provide this solely for the benefit of those seeking employment.


Voices

Train of ThoughtTrain of Thought

I really enjoy this time of year, but not for the usual reasons. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy spending some down time with the family, seeing my young children go through the entire Christmas experience, writing & sending Christmas cards, watching college football bowl month, etc. (I’ll spare you my rant on the absurdity of the BCS.)

But as we wind up one year, and press on to the next, it’s a time of review. Whether subconsciously or not, I believe most of us do this. I like taking a little time to look backward and forward. As I reflect, the word that keeps coming to mind is “thankful”. As I project, I’m filled with excitement. Here’s what I see:

2011

We really got our start in late 2010, when our first member joined on December 15th. The next day, we got three more, and we were off and running. I can’t tell you how thankful we are for our members. We couldn’t do this without you.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful staff here at the Coalition, who have given their time and talent for “the cause”. I firmly believe one needs to delegate the things they don’t do well. And, as any successful businessperson will tell you, it’s much easier to succeed if you surround yourself with good people. My staff ensures the organization is able to accomplish so much with our limited resources.

The Coalition exhibited at shows: Builders’ Show, RESNET, Pacific Coast Builders’ Conference, CEDIA and EEBA. Shows can be a real bother for some people, but as a virtual organization, we cherish the opportunity to meet people face-to-face. We love hearing about your daily challenges and successes, and we’re here to offer a helping hand if it’s needed.

We got a chance to make new friends in Washington, DC and Raleigh, NC. As an organization that engages in both national and state-level advocacy, we are prepared to do what we can for our members. If that means sitting down with the senior staff leader for the Governor of North Carolina, we’ll do it. And, if we need to take a neutral position based on our members’ feedback, then we’ll do that, too.

On the topic of national advocacy, the Coalition worked tirelessly to get low-rise residential back into the IgCC. As you well know, we were not able to make that happen, and we’re disappointed with the result. But we’re not only thankful that we got to work with such a great group of people, we’re also encouraged that our group is not giving up in this effort to raise the level of construction in the U.S.

I’ve been particularly proud of the information we’ve been able to provide our members and the industry. Whether it’s been this newsletter, our quarterly industry reports or articles we’ve been asked to pen, I feel we’ve brought a whole new level of transparency and objectiveness to the industry.

2012

In advance of our Annual Members Meeting, we surveyed our members and asked them what they would like to see the Coalition pursue over the next year. We’ve got a lot of good concepts in the tank, but needed their assistance in prioritizing. Their feedback told us that we need to:

  • Assemble a member directory. That sentiment also spawned an idea to start publicizing our members’ projects in our newsletter and on our site. Promoting success stories can help inspire others to move in a sustainable direction, which is what we’re all about. Look for that to debut in our next issue of The Torch.
  • Create and launch two online software programs. Both of these are in the development phase, and as they get near completion, we’ll be able to share more details. But I can say that initial feedback has been really positive.
  • Increase state-level advocacy. Our low-rise residential code development group is eager to get our document out to all jurisdictions, so they have the choice to implement such a common-sense approach to new construction. We’ll be working with our members and other allies to assist those efforts in communities across the country.

The above activities won’t supplant anything we’re currently doing. Instead, we’ll be adding them in as we go forward. As I mentioned, we also have other concepts just waiting for the necessary time and resources.

Awareness, exposure and interest in the Coalition grow by the day. I’m extremely excited by the momentum we’ve been able to generate. Ron Jones and I spent months dreaming about and planning this organization, and I feel its ideals and goals are exactly where we intended them to be.

For this edition of my column, I’ll conclude with the words of a member who joined about a month ago. I feel it captures the essence of why Ron and I started the Green Builder® Coalition:

“I have received Green Builder® Magazine for years as part of being in the Cincinnati HBA. Honestly, I can't well afford this membership due mostly to the poor economy. Ironically, I am here because I feel that I can't afford not to get educated on the future of home building. This seems to be the best place to start.”

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