Green Builder Coalition

The Torch – February 2012

The Torch Offical Publication of Green Builder Coalition


Green Builder® Coalition to Present “SAVE Act 101: An Introduction”

Silhouetted people

The greatest single impediment to the construction of energy efficient homes is the fact that appraisers and mortgage underwriters don’t assign any value to efficiency improvements. Simply stated, a low appraisal means a builder could potentially lose money on energy efficient improvements at the closing table.

Energy costs are a significant cost of homeownership. It only stands to reason that a more energy efficient home, which offers its owners a more favorable cash flow, would hold more value than an inefficient home. In fact, experts believe that building a home that’s 30% more efficient can put over $20,000 in the wallets of the homeowner over the 30-year life of a typical mortgage!

A bipartisan duo of US Senators want to improve the accuracy of America’s appraisal and mortgage underwriting. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Co.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) introduced The Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act (S. 1737) on October 19, 2011. Developed over the course of many months and garnering strong support from appraisers, builders, manufacturers, environmental groups and many others, the legislation aims to improve the accuracy of mortgage underwriting used by federal mortgage agencies by ensuring that energy costs are included in the underwriting process.

On Wednesday, March 14th at 1:00pm ET, the Green Builder® Coalition and Green Builder® Media will present an informational and thorough look at the SAVE Act. Moderated by Green Builder® Coalition Chairman Ron Jones, he’ll be joined by Ken Gear (Leading Builders of America) and Philip Henderson (Natural Resources Defense Council) to examine all aspects of the SAVE Act. Together, they’ll explore what the bill contains, how it proposes to modify home appraisals and how it might benefit the owners and occupants of energy efficient homes.

To register for this educational webinar, please click here.

Sponsored by:

Leading Builders of AmericaNational Resources Defense CouncilCouncil of North American Insulation Manufacturers Association
Institute for Market TransformationEcoBroker

Consumers Union and Green Builder® Coalition to Collaborate

Staff from Consumers Union (publisher of the widely popular magazine, Consumer Reports) and the Green Builder® Coalition recently met to discuss a new collaboration. Consumers Union would like to share our message that energy-efficient homes are a positive and viable choice for homebuyers/homeowners.

Consumers Union logoTo further that message, we are looking to accumulate video testimonials, which would be uploaded to the Green Builder® Coalition’s YouTube channel, as well as Consumers Union’s website. The audience for these videos would primarily be consumers, industry colleagues and policymakers.

To help ease the burden on our members, we are currently formulating questions for you to ask, but there won’t be any scripts. We have a strong suspicion that the answers will fall along a common spectrum, yet still be unique to the individuals and their respective situations.

If you are a member and would like to participate, please notify me by replying to this e-mail or sending an e-mail here. If you’re not currently a member, but would like to take advantage of this new member benefit, I would encourage you to join today.

We’re not asking for any film yet, but if you’re feeling proactive, you may want to reach out to current or past clients to see if any are willing to consent to a video testimonial about their home. As we firm up all details, we’ll communicate that information to those members looking to participate.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to Consumers Union’s non-proprietary nature, they will only be able to share videos that present information that is not brand-specific. Your company name or the mention of a product’s brand name cannot be used in the video footage. The Coalition, on the other hand, will be able to list our members’ names with their respective videos, so you will receive recognition through the Coalition’s portion of this effort.

For more information on Consumers Union’s energy code work, you can visit


The Green Builder® Coalition Presents at RESNET 2012

The Coalition presented a 90-minute educational session at the 2012 RESNET Conference on Monday, February 27th. Titled “3 Essential Components of a Successful Green Business”, the 90-minute session was hosted by Ron Jones, Board Chairman, and Mike Collignon, Executive Director. RESNET will post a copy of our presentation, as well as others, as PDFs on their conference website at the conclusion of the week.

Approximately 30 people attended the session, which consisted of a 50 minute presentation and dialogue, followed by another 40 minutes of interactive discussion amongst most attendees in the room. Judging by the level of engagement, the informative, yet light-hearted, presentation seemed to be well-received. We would like to thank everyone who attended, and especially those who came up afterwards to offer their compliments.

Green Builder® Media and the Green Builder® Coalition shared exhibit space in booth 104. We were able to have wonderful dialogue with a lot of conference attendees. Coalition staff also attended several of the informative educational sessions, and in the process gained some very valuable contacts.

New Friends, Current Colleagues Seen at Builders’ Show

2012 IBS boothThe Coalition had the opportunity to visit with many friends from the past at the recent Builders’ Show. We also made some new friends, including a new member who joined while in the booth. Staff received very positive feedback from both members and non-members alike when speaking about some of the initiatives we’re pursuing this year.

Exhibiting alongside Green Builder® Media, the traffic was fairly steady throughout the first 3 days of the show. The last day was relatively sparse, though. It was announced that NAHB will reduce the show to three days during their 4-year stay in Las Vegas, which begins in 2013. Given the reduced number of exhibitors and attendees, this makes a lot of sense.

In a perplexing development, NAHB adopted a resolution during the Thursday portion of their Board meeting that would give the government affairs staff the flexibility to oppose federal legislation that would improve the appraisal process by valuing energy efficiency. They seem to be guarding themselves against the de-valuation of older, inefficient homes.

This line of thinking would penalize builders of energy-efficient homes, which is the core of our membership. To that end, 3 NAHB Board members, including Coalition members Ron Jones and Tim O’Brien (featured below), spoke out against the resolution. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, it passed with a strong majority. What makes this action confusing is that in this document, NAHB calls the appraisal process both “faulty”, and “unfair and unreasonable”.

As I Am…

Tim O'BrienTim O’Brien

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 Tim O’Brien, an award-winning Wisconsin homebuilder.

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

Tim O’Brien: With a background in Building Sciences and Engineering, I begin building Energy Star rated homes in 2001 and became increasingly interested in green building in about 2005; fully believing that this would be the new standard of home building in the near future. After leaving a national home builder in 2007, I set out with my new partner to start a company focused on affordable green building with 3rd party testing and certification. In the market we serve, green building was a niche and was considered an expensive option for the mainstream market. We saw an opportunity to provide a certified green home for the traditional home buyer and we were successful in being able to demonstrate the benefits of building a green home.

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

TO: In 2008, our local HBA was the first to initiate a green home project called the “Trend Home” in the Metro-Milwaukee area as an educational project for our members, local government officials, and local schools. It was in partnership with the WI Home Builders Association’s non-profit foundation.

Two years later, the same model was used to build another Trend Home at a sister HBA near central Wisconsin. We had support from most of the county officials who had been involved in getting the project started, but our challenge came from local building officials who did not feel comfortable with some of the new systems we were incorporating into the home; namely the Solar PV (concerns of how the panels impact the roof structure and electrical grounding), SIPs panels (structural rigidity) and the first residential Grey Water Recovery System in the state. Through a lot of meetings and the use of engineering data as back-up, we were able to convince the local (as well as state) building officials that these are sound systems and are being installed and used successfully in other parts of the country as well as around the world.

Our local county officials were very interested in the Grey Water Recovery system because of the county’s concerns with the draw-down on their municipal wells in addition to the increased cost of delivering potable water to residences. Additionally, some of our trade partners were apprehensive about working with some of the new technologies, but with tremendous support from the suppliers we were able to satisfy their concerns.

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

TO: Affordable Home Energy Management Systems.  We have found that there is a lot of interest in managing energy, but the costs turn people away.

TT: Who inspires you the most?

TO: W. Edward Deming – the founder of Quality Management; Tony Hsieh – CEO of Zappos; innovator in company culture; and my Mom – a successful business woman who introduced me early on to quality management and was a tremendous support to me when I started the new home building company.

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

TO: I have been fascinated with construction ever since I was a little kid. Most of my book reports, speech class topics, and school projects were about Frank Lloyd Wright, a Wisconsin native. Although I was not great at rendering an elevation, I sure enjoyed drawing floor plans and the engineering behind combining strong architectural features into the structure of a building.

However, if I was a better singer and could write musical lyrics, I would have chosen to be a “rock star”; not flashy, just solid rhythms and exceptional lyrical stories. Music is another passion of mine.

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

TO: Self-Development activities to stay sharp, and spending time with my family in the great outdoors: snow skiing, boating, wakeboarding, sailing, and hiking in the mountains of Colorado.

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

TO: Don’t chase the money or the status of a career. Follow your passions and be the best at what you do and enjoy yourself; the rewards for your success, both intrinsic and extrinsic, will follow. Life is too short to work at something you are not passionate about.

Project Profile

Net Zero Energy and Water Project

Net Zero Energy and Water

Yes, you read that right. That is the ambitious goal of a residential retrofit project currently being managed by Coalition member Steve Spratt’s firm, Home Preservation Services. The details of this project are nothing short of amazing.

This cutting edge project, located on approximately ½ acre, includes three new structures, vegetated roofing, renovated pool/spa/landscaping, state of the art sub-surface irrigation, an underground 100,000 gallon rainwater harvesting/storage system, a grey water reuse system, on-site electrical generation, energy and water conservation retrofits to the 5,000 square foot main house, strict adherence to healthy building standards and the addition of systems to monitor utility use and air quality… all in real time.

Net Zero Energy and Water ProjectAccording to Spratt, the client’s past water use had been extreme, especially for landscaping purposes. So, one of the main routes to success will be to cut irrigation substantially and provide the mechanisms to very smartly and efficiently irrigate a new plant scheme. Additionally, more conservation in household use will be required. Fortunately, the client is willing to cut back – not a lot, but enough to make the system work. By utilizing graywater in the irrigation system, approximately 40,000-50,000 gallons of potable water was saved, thereby reducing the city’s pumping and water treatment costs – very important as it relates to energy consumption and a macroview of the water/energy situation.

Due to be completed in May 2012, Spratt had this to say about the remodeling project: “To make Net-Zero work anywhere is difficult. To do it on a city lot, in a dry state, for a family of four is exceedingly challenging and requires creative conservation design that migrates through the entire structure. Our visionary client hopes to create a model that will show how it can be done and help inspire future Net-Zero projects.”

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

Phoenix-based Salt River Project (SRP), the nation’s third-largest public power and water utility, is recruiting for a Senior Program Manager to oversee SRP’s model building energy code & appliance standards initiatives.

In search of an individual with knowledge of and ability to apply technical building science concepts, statistical methods, economic analyses, financial evaluations and cost benefit calculations. Advanced written and oral communication skills. Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to interact with and influence decision makers. Ability to present highly technical data in a manner that facilitates comprehension and decision-making by management, policymakers and other targeted audiences.

Ideal candidate will have five years or more of experience in the field of building design, energy management, sustainability or other applied energy-related experience. This position requires a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, Architecture, Marketing, Business Administration or Economics. All candidates must be legally authorized to work in the United States. Currently, SRP does not sponsor H1B visas.

For the complete job description, please click here:

Please apply at our career center online at

The Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA; is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission of promoting and achieving energy efficiency through networking, program activities, and education. They are looking to fill 3 positions:

Position #1: Better Buildings Program Senior Associate – Assist the Director of the Programs and Services Division, but will also work closely with the entire SEEA team.

The Associate’s primary duties are to assist the Director with all tasks related to the effective administration of the Better Buildings Program grant and management of all sub-grantee cities.

The position requires strong project management skills, coupled with the ability to absorb and analyze large amounts of information quickly. There will be considerable exposure to subject matter in a wide variety of fields related to energy efficiency, e.g. finance, marketing, calculations of emissions reductions, workforce development. While the successful candidate may not be an expert in any of these areas, they must find such topics both intellectually interesting and professionally fulfilling.

This position requires sound organizational and communications skills, ability to work on a multi-city basis with a wide range of constituents, a demonstrated ability to work independently, to contribute effectively as a member of a team, and to collaborate with other SEEA teams and outside organizations.

A Master’s degree is preferred; however a candidate with a Bachelor’s degree in a related field who has three or more years of experience and who can also demonstrate mastery of the required skills and knowledge sets will be considered.

Salary is competitive based upon experience. SEEA offers a generous benefits package and a stimulating work environment in Downtown Atlanta convenient to public transit (MARTA) rail and bus routes. Successful candidates will need to be based in SEEA’s Atlanta office. Consideration of candidates will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

SEEA is an equal opportunity employer.

To apply, please send a resume, cover letter, and a writing sample to: ATTN: BBP SR Associate to

Position #2: Senior Associate – Program Development: Work in close collaboration with the Director to oversee the creation and implementation of program relevant to the mission of the Team and SEEA. The position will work closely with municipal energy programs, State Energy Offices, and other strategic partners in the Southeast. The Senior Associate will assist the Director in the development of solutions to decrease barriers that hinder energy efficiency champions in the Southeast, and support growth of the energy efficiency workforce.

This position is based out of SEEA’s main office in Atlanta, Georgia. Up to 20% of time may be required for travel in the Southeastern region and beyond.

A Master’s degree is preferred; however a candidate with a Bachelor’s degree in a related field who has three or more years of experience and who can also demonstrate mastery of the required skills and knowledge sets will be considered.

Salary is competitive based upon experience. SEEA offers a generous benefits package and a stimulating work environment in Downtown Atlanta convenient to public transit (MARTA) rail and bus routes. Successful candidates will need to be based in SEEA’s Atlanta office. Consideration of candidates will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

All qualified candidates may apply by sending a cover letter and resume to with the subject line: SEEA Senior Associate – Program Development. No phone calls please.

Position #3: Energy Policy Associate: Support SEEA’s Public Policy Team, and engage with building officials, contractors, policy makers and other stakeholders to promote the adoption and implementation of energy codes in the Southeast in order to promote a stronger economy and higher quality of life for residents and businesses in the region. This position will also assist with the implementation of energy efficient opportunities and the strategic goals and objectives of SEEA’s public policy portfolio.

This position is based out of SEEA’s main office in Atlanta, Georgia. Up to 40% of time may be required for travel in the Southeastern region and beyond.

College degree required, graduate degree preferred. At least a year of relevant professional experience is required for this position. SEEA is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Salary range will be $35,000-$45,000. Salary offer will be competitive and commensurate with qualifications of successful applicant. SEEA offers a generous and comprehensive benefits package.

All qualified candidates may apply by sending a cover letter and resume to with the subject line: Energy Policy Associate. No phone calls please.

The Building Energy Systems and Technologies Group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is aligning its technical capabilities and expertise to address our nation’s energy challenges. Our fast-growing group is currently seeking a Senior Residential Building Energy Codes Expert to support the DOE Building Energy Codes Program. Model energy codes and standards are developed in the public and private sectors, adopted and enforced by the public sector and implemented by the building design and construction industry on a national level. DOE funds PNNL to support all facets of building energy code development and implementation.

The successful candidate will serve as an overall subject matter expert in development, implementation and deployment of the residential building energy codes. The successful candidate will also have an expert level understanding of the manner in which model codes and standards are developed in the public and private sectors, adopted and enforced by the public sector and implemented by the building design and construction industry. Working level knowledge of DOE’s Building Technologies (BT) program organization and existing client relationships are desired. The candidate will have the necessary skills and background to serve as an overall subject matter expert in development, implementation and deployment of the residential building energy codes. B.S. degree in engineering, architecture or other related area with 6 years of relevant experience; or a graduate degree (M.S. or Ph.D.) in engineering, architecture or other related area with at least 4 years’ experience; and recognized knowledge of residential building energy codes, their development and implementation, and building energy efficiency policy requirements.

For complete job information, please click here:

To learn more, please contact:

Kristi Ross
Senior Search Consultant
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
902 Battelle Boulevard
Richland, WA 99352
Tel: 509-372-6317

To apply, please navigate to and reference job ID 300825.

The Alliance to Save Energy is looking for a Publications & Social Media Outreach Senior Associate. The position is the day-to-day manager of Alliance social media activities. Proven, demonstrable knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media streams is required. Candidate must have experience in all facets of social media, including advertising, content creation, and blogger relations.

The ideal candidate also has excellent writing and editing skills and knowledge of AP style. A proven ability to create fresh content is essential. The candidate will write and edit extensively for the Alliance’s website and newsletters. Experience with brand identity and ability to maintain consistent messaging is also imperative. Candidates with at least two years of experience in a public relations or public policy communications environment are preferred.

This position, with a salary range of $40,000 – $55,000 is full-time salaried with benefits.

To see the complete job listing, please click here:

To apply, please send a copy of your cover letter and resume to

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.


Technically Speaking…

Attending a building convention with many product manufacturers and representatives under one roof is a great opportunity to learn about what is available and what may be in development. Although the International Builders’ Show was considerably smaller this year, there still seemed to be ample product booths to visit. What appears below is a sneak preview of our upcoming, interactive product directory. The intent is to convey information and introduce concepts that either I’ve personally never seen before, or have a potential impact on sustainability.

But before we get started, the definition of sustainability that is being used here is simply smart building science. Most of the green building programs look at sustainability in terms of effects of how the site is planned, water is used, energy is managed, materials are incorporated, and the resulting indoor air quality. Often times, what gets left by the wayside is the principal of durability, which heavily depends on common sense building science.

Laureen Blissard

Disclaimer: Although this guide may include the names and images of building products, any listing below does not constitute an endorsement by the Green Builder® Coalition or any of their associated staff.




Indoor Air QualityHigh Efficiency HVAC System

Product: Small duct central heating and air-conditioning system

Sustainable Attributes: Innovation, Energy Efficiency, Materials Use Reduction, Indoor Air Quality.

High velocity duct systems have been around for some time, but not many can claim they operate quietly.  (To our knowledge, there are only 3 manufacturers in the space.)  In addition to being an excellent product for retrofit or historical preservation projects, the Unico system appears to work very well with new construction.  In terms of energy efficiency, the company provides design services to make sure that the product is sized right.  High velocity duct systems are also typically less prone to duct leakage and this product is apparently pre-tested to verify that it doesn’t leak.

The usage of this product has a cascade effect across several different aspects of sustainability, not just energy. The small duct system doesn’t require soffiting or excessive duct chases to be run.  And if the envelope is thermally efficient, the ducts may not necessarily need to be run all the way to the perimeter wall, which also reduces the amount of product that would be required.  Other aspects deserve further exploration in a later entry.

Unico outlets

The Unico System

Product: Cordless Caulk Dispenser

Sustainable Attribute: High-Efficiency Building Envelope

If weatherization and renovation of existing homes and buildings really takes off, there will be quite a bit of caulking to be done.  What better product to save your hand from cramping after caulking the whole house.  The other possibility is a constant flow that may make it easier to maintain a consistent caulk installation.
Only question: Why don’t they have information about this product listed on their site?
Cordless caulk dispenser

Product: Pull Stop Box

Sustainable Attribute: Water Conservation Fixture

The Pull Stop Box eliminates angle stop installation for plumbing fixtures. For some, angle stops present a concern for potential leaks and leaks only waste water.  The product moves angle stops into the wall, eliminating the need to stub out. It is half the size of an ice maker outlet box and has an escutcheon to conceal the valve. The knob controls the flow of water to the supply line by actuating the valve in a push or pull motion. To be honest, the concept of this product is strong.

There are, however, some minor concerns about the durability of this product.  When physically operating the pull stop, the valve inside the box seemed to move quite a bit, but the representative assured me that, once installed, that issue would be resolved.  It also comes with a five year warranty, which is helpful.

Pull Stop Box

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