Green Builder Coalition

The Torch – June 2012

The Torch Offical Publication of Green Builder Coalition


Green Builder® Coalition Launches Student Memberships

Students in class

The Board of Directors and Staff of the Green Builder® Coalition are happy to announce that as an organization, we are now able to welcome student members. As a member, you’ll have access to inside industry information not found in textbooks. We offer an honest and transparent glimpse into the industry you’ll soon be joining. Below are the details on our newest membership classification:

  • Benefits:
    • Electronic subscription to Green Builder® Magazine
    • Discounted tuition to Green Builder® College courses (total value of $450)
    • Electronic subscription to The Torch (Coalition e-newsletter)
    • Access to our national advocacy
    • Access to technical assistance
    • Use of the “Member of” logo
  • Dues: $25/year
  • Requirements: Must be an enrolled student at a high school, vocational school, college or university.

If you are currently a student, or know someone who is, we invite you to join the Green Builder® Coalition and experience many of the same benefits our Charter Members enjoy. We feel the information we provide will serve as a wonderful compliment to your current studies.

Green Retrofits: A Testimonial

Tom Miller, current Board member of the Green Builder® Coalition, takes us on a tour of his retrofitted home. You can view the video on the Green Builder® Coalition’s YouTube channel.

Green Builder® Coalition Member Reaches Milestone

Richard Morgan, Green Building & Emerging Technologies Manager for Austin Energy, recently celebrated a major milestone. Austin Energy’s Green Building (AEGB) program rated its 10,000th single-family home since the program began in 1991. AEGB was the first green building program in the country and the first to start using a rating tool. AEGB awards homes ratings of 1 to 5 stars with 5 stars being the highest for incorporating environmental and energy-saving features into the design and construction of the home.

Austin Energy Green Building ProgramWhen the program began, green building was often seen as a niche market in the housing industry. It has since become much more prevalent. Last fiscal year, for example, one-third of the single-family building permits issued in Austin were for green-building rated homes. AEGB rated 585 homes in 2011 and 77 achieved a 5-star rating. The first 5-star home was rated in 2001. Since then, 437 homes have achieved the distinction.

The 10,000th home also happens to be a 5-star rated home that is net-zero energy capable. The home has 7 kilowatts of solar photovoltaics and a solar hot water system. Other energy-saving features include a variable-speed and ductless mini-split air conditioning system that is 30 percent more efficient than traditional air conditioning units, spray foam insulation in walls with fiber cement siding, and ceiling fans that run on direct current and are 2.5 times more efficient than typical ceiling fans.

The home is so efficient that since May 2011, the owners have used a total of 1,300 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity (less than the average home in Austin uses for the month of June). This includes just 400 kWh during the hottest summer in Austin’s history last year. The homeowners’ goal is to achieve net zero energy use this year.

“This home and others like it are using energy efficiency to reduce our need for fossil fuel based energy and substituting clean renewable energy for the remaining energy needs,” said Morgan. “With the leadership of homeowners, designers, builders and Austin Energy Green Building ratings, Austin can move to a clean energy future.”

The home also received additional rating points for incorporating local materials such as cedar and clay in the construction of a straw bale accessory unit used as an office in the back of the home. Points also were awarded for its environmental and sustainable features that include a lush vegetable garden and greenhouse where the homeowners grow their own food.

“The conscientious use of building materials, focus on water conservation indoors and out and the health and safety of the residents make this home a model of sustainability,” said Morgan. “It is an example of what can be achieved with thoughtful design, committed homeowners and contractors who understand the impact their work will have on the community as a whole.”

AEGB’s rating system addresses energy, water and material efficiency, sustainable site practices, indoor environmental quality, education, innovation and social equity in the construction of buildings. The rating system is tailored to local climate conditions, local industry and economic realities.

Since the program started, it has used its rating tools for single-family, multifamily and commercial development to save more than 53.6 million kWh of electricity, 65.8 million gallons of water and to divert 120,698 tons of construction waste from the landfill.

Last year, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, selected Austin Energy Green Building as the only U.S. initiative to receive the 2011 Scroll of Honour award – considered the most prestigious human settlements award in the world. The organization selected Austin for being the first municipal green building program in the nation, leading the way in sustainable residential and commercial building practices and providing valuable resource efficiency to Austin. It was the second time in its history that Austin Energy Green Building has won an award from the U.N.

Special Offer to Torch Readers

Precision Data Systems (PDS) is running a special offer on Owl Electricity Monitors, a new energy efficiency tool. Introduced in the fall of 2008, the Owl & Owl Micro allow you to take control of your electrical usage and get real time feedback on how much your electricity costs you. The easy installation takes about as much time as removing the cover from the panel. The monitor details the actual savings from turning off appliances, lights and more. They’re wireless and easy to use.

Owl & Owl MicroPDS is currently offering a buy one, get one free package to help builders create awareness for the Owl through model home installations. Buy one large Owl at $125.00 and they will send out an additional Micro Owl (A $79.95 value) at no charge. They’ll ship it for free and provide you with a full money back guarantee promise if you are dissatisfied with the monitors in ANY way.

For more information or to order, please call Douglas at (800) 945-4913. Make sure to mention Green Builder® Coalition when ordering.

The 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.


Green Builder® Coalition Participating in PCBC Educational Session, Discount Offered

PCBC logoThe 2012 Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC) takes place June 27-28 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. As expected, there will be educational sessions at the conference. The Green Builder Coalition has been asked to both participate & moderate the session on the SAVE Act. (There is an additional fee required to attend this session.) For more info, please click here.

We are also offering our first-ever membership promotion! If you attend the Thursday morning educational session (on CALGreen & the SAVE Act) at PCBC 2012 and join the Green Builder® Coalition, we will reimburse you for your session fee. That’s money right back in your pocket!

(Offer valid only for new members who join through 6/28/2012. Proof of purchase is required. Session fee will be reimbursed after the conclusion of PCBC 2012. For questions, please e-mail

We hope to see you there.

eXecutive Director Appears on Home Talk USA

Michael King

Executive Director Mike Collignon was a recent guest on Michael King’s radio show, Home Talk USA. The two discussed the Green Builder® Coalition, in addition to green building products & tips that any new or existing homeowner can use to save money. They did three segments together; the total runtime (including commercials) was 25 minutes. To hear the interview, please click below to load the audio file. When it loads, fast forward a little past the halfway mark of the recording.

Green Builder Coalition interview

“The Cajun Contractor” broadcasts his show on over 200 radio affiliates in all 50 states. Now in its 8th year, Home Talk USA discusses many topics concerning home improvements, introduces the consumer to new and innovative products, provides access to industry experts, protects homeowners from consumer fraud, holds the home improvement industry accountable for its business practices, and advocates for a fair and mutual relationship between the consumer and the contractor.

For more information about Home Talk USA, please click here.

As I Am…

Richard Morganrichard Morgan

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 Richard Morgan, Green Building & Emerging Technologies Manager for Austin Energy.

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

Richard Morgan: I have considered myself an environmentalist since I first started reading Edward Abbey when I was in my twenties, but I didn’t think about putting my environmentalist leanings into my work until I was working as a builder in San Francisco a decade or so later in the 80s. Working as a general contractor and taking long weekend camping trips to the redwood forests and the mountains of Northern California convinced me that the business as I, and most other contractors, was practicing it was unsustainable. It was when I recognized this that I decided that whatever work I did in the future would have to give those who come after me the same opportunities that I have had.

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

RM: The first project that I really considered to be green was the Green Habitat Learning Project. This was a project I and a group of others from the City of Austin Green Builder Program, Austin Habitat for Humanity and another not for profit called American Institute for Learning (A.I.L.) put together in 1992. The goal of this project was to build a green home that would be sold to a low income family and built by at-risk young people. A teacher from A.I.L. and I supervised eight young people 17 to 20 years old who had dropped out of school in the construction of the home. Our goals were to build the house, teach the young people working on it basic life skills (how to get to work on time every day, to listen to your supervisor and get your work done and sometimes just how to stay out of jail), and to use the construction process to teach math, reading and social studies so the students could get their GEDs. This project became the Casa Verde Builders Program which is still building homes for low income families and still teaching life skills and providing scholarships for up to 60 at-risk young people every year.

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

RM: The next game changer will not be a product or technology but when we begin to measure the performance of homes and buildings against a benchmark like energy and water use per square foot. We have the technology today to build homes that are zero energy, but we don’t have the incentive to do so. When our green building rating systems and, eventually, our codes begin to require a certain level of performance, regardless of what technology is used, we will start to see really high performance homes and buildings.

TT: Who inspires you the most?

RM: A young man in one of our first Casa Verde classes. This guy had been a small time drug dealer and general screw up, but he came to us wanting to change and he did. His life hasn’t always been smooth or easy, but he is mostly staying out of trouble and taking care of his family. One of my mentors said life is mostly about being a better parent than your parents were. This guy is doing that, he’s making sure his kids have more opportunities than he did.

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

RM: I probably would not do much different than I have.

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

RM: Reading, gardening and woodworking.

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

RM: You have to know how the old guys did it before you can know how to make it better.

Project Profile

Infill Project with a Light Footprint

VISION House Los AngelesImagine the home of the future: a smart house that takes advantage of integrated design elements, advanced technologies and intelligent systems to enhance the home’s performance. Indoor and outdoor living spaces are nurturing and comfortable. Durable green products keep the home healthy and safe. The house is regenerative, returning energy to the grid, adding value to its neighborhood and replenishing its surrounding natural environment. This home of the future lends itself to joyful, connected, sustainable living.

Green Builder® Media partnered with builder and developer, Structure Home, to bring this home of the future to life in the VISION House® Los Angeles. Located in the high-profile neighborhood of Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, CA, the VISION House project blends the vital aspects of green building and home performance with warm, contemporary design.

Working with architectural firm KAA Design, executive architect P2 Design, Jill Wolff Interior Design and landscape architect MJN Design Studio, the house earned the following designations and certifications:

  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification
  • California ENERGY STAR Certification
  • California Advanced Homes Program (CAHP)
  • California Home Energy Efficiency Rating System (CHEERS) Verification
  • Cal-Green (Tier 2)
  • Title 24: will surpass requirements by more than 30%

For a gallery of photos, please click here.

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

CLEAResult (, 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 energy-efficiency engineers, consultants, analysts and coordinators. With the exception of one intern position, these are full-time positions with full benefits. To view these listings, please click here.

At press time, they had 20 jobs in the following cities:

Austin, TX (6)

Fayetteville, AR (1)

Little Rock, AR (7)

Madison, WI (1)

Okemos, MI (3)

Reno, NV (1)

Tulsa, OK (1)

CLEAResult is an energy-optimization firm that develops and implements energy-efficiency programs on behalf of utility companies across the country.  Our programs are designed to help utilities manage load growth and meet legislative requirements by identifying energy-savings opportunities and implementing energy-efficiency improvements.  CLEAResult is ranked on Inc. Magazine’s list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. for the second year in a row.

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

James Hatheway
(512) 259-2383

Or apply via this website:

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 the following position:

Communications Associate: This person will have responsibility and devote the most substantial part of his/her time assisting in the development and deployment of the communications and marketing plan for SEEA’s Better Buildings program, which includes providing significant support and relationship management to sub grantee community-based retrofit programs. Specific activities include deployment of consumer-based social marketing strategies, and tasks related to the website, newsletters and other mass communication, branding and public image activities. The Associate will also work with the Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Team to provide similar support to overall SEEA communications and branding projects.

A considerable degree of independent initiative will be required, especially related to managing marketing and public relations work for the BetterBuildings and DOE’s State Energy Program (SEP) city “accounts.” The candidate will also need to work effectively with team members from SEEA and other organizations, and to express complex ideas in clear, compelling written and verbal form.

A bachelor’s degree and 2-4 years of experience in communications and marketing is preferred. SEEA is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Salary range will be $45,000-$55,000. SEEA offers a generous benefits package and a stimulating work environment in Downtown Atlanta, convenient to public transit (MARTA) rail and bus routes.

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

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory currently has over 40 jobs listed on their site. Please note the closing date on the position prior to applying. Most are located in their home state of Washington, though 5 of the posted positions are based in College Park, MD and one is listed for Portland, OR. If you have any interest in these highly scientific roles, please visit their career site by clicking here.

Iowa State University, College of Science & Technology, is looking to fill the position of Director of Iowa Energy Center. They seek an accomplished director to provide and facilitate dynamic and strategic science, engineering and technical research and lead in the development of progressive and responsive programs with respect to alternative energy and energy conservation.

Ideal candidates will offer a proven track record of research and administration related to energy technologies and/or energy policy with particular emphasis on alternative energy and energy efficiency. The director should have exemplary people and communication skills, and the ability to build effective relationships with a wide range of constituencies. The director is responsible for three separate locations and reports to the Iowa State University Vice President for Research and Economic Development while working closely with an advisory council composed of industry, community, and academic representatives.

This position will be filled as a faculty or Professional and Scientific (P&S) appointment, depending on the candidate selected. For more information and how to apply, download position details.  For questions, please contact Joe Colletti at (515) 294-1823.

Southern Energy Management, the Southeast’s leading provider of sustainable energy solutions, is seeking a full-time Building Performance Technician to join our Building Performance team. This position will be based out of their Morrisville, NC office with the majority of work days beginning from the Building Performance Technician’s home address. The Building Performance Technician supports the day-to-day goals of the company through efficient fulfillment of contracted work via effective team coordination and streamlined communication of actionable information. The position of Building Performance Technician is a full-time position. This position will predominantly serve the Sandhills Region of North Carolina with spill over into other regions.

A Building Performance Technician is expected to assist and lead in the collection of field data for residential new and existing single family and multifamily housing. Included in the collection of field data are visual inspections and performance testing. Visual inspections include the inspection in new housing for HERS Ratings, ENERGY STAR compliance, and inspection in new housing for various Green Building certifications programs including: NAHB Green Building Certification Program, LEED for Homes, Water Sense, and Earth Craft. Performance Testing includes but is not limited to the testing of whole building leakage, HVAC duct system leakage, exhaust fan flows, room pressures, and HVAC flow testing. Having the HERS Rater and/or BPI Building Analyst Professional designation is definitely preferred, but is not required.

The ideal candidate will be flexible, eager to learn, and willing to do whatever it takes to make each project a success. This position will involve a lot of field work and may require overnight travel. Possessing basic computer skills is a vital part of this position and possessing basic energy modeling skills is a definite plus with organizational skills a must. A strong commitment to sustainable energy and dedication to the long-term vision of SEM is also a must. SEM offers competitive salaries and an outstanding benefits package to full-time regular team members including health insurance and 401(k).

To view the full listing and to apply, please click here.

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.


Train of ThoughtTrain of Thought

I’m going to borrow from a church hymn for the central theme of this column. Perhaps you have heard this line sung in your house of worship, or maybe in a movie or TV show. The words are “Be not afraid”.

So often, when facing resistance to green building methods or techniques, it seems to me that the #1 reason for pushback is fear. Specifically, fear of the unknown, though this can be grouped into two sub-categories.

There’s fear of not knowing about a product or technique. This fear is simply based in ignorance. (Note: If you don’t know what ignorance truly means, you should look it up. It’s not nearly as negative as you might think.) In this instance, the person or persons is unfamiliar or uninformed about a particular product or technique. They may not want to outwardly appear this way in front of clients. While at first glance this is understandable, I don’t think anyone should reasonably expect a green building professional to have every single answer. Remember, this is still an emerging and expanding field. Be not afraid… to be honest with your client. If you don’t know, tell them you don’t and that you’ll look into it. This fear (and dilemma) can be overcome by calling on our desire to learn. And we all have that, to varying degrees. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.

(Some people get stuck in their ways, and don’t feel the need to “branch out”. Another manifestation of this behavior is the need to do a little extra work. I think both of these are based more in laziness than fear, but that’s a separate problem.)

The second subcategory is fear of unknown results. I guess another way to say this is unfounded doubt. Has anyone ever heard the following words: “I don’t know if that’s going to work?” Thanks to the Internet, and some of the credible sources of information on there, one can obtain a reasonable expectation of the performance levels of a product, or the viability of a technique. And while no product or person is perfect, I would hope one or two bad experiences wouldn’t deter someone from using/doing something that otherwise has an incredibly high rate of success. Be not afraid. It’s not like you’re embarking on a journey into completely uncharted territory.

A simplistic example of the above might be in the purchase of a light bulb, or an appliance. A traditional bulb, a CFL and LED are all going to provide light. While LEDs are still a few times more expensive than the other two options, the difference in price between an Edison bulb and a CFL is roughly $0.70. If one were to purchase the CFL and not experience the documented energy savings, they’d still have a light bulb and are only out $0.70. Not exactly breaking the bank on that “gamble”, right? When it comes to appliances, it’s pretty hard to not buy an Energy Star appliance these days. And the cost increase isn’t very high, if at all. (An online price check of dishwashers at Sears showed a $20 increase between the lowest priced non-Energy Star model and the lowest priced Energy Star model. That’s less than 10% of the purchase price.) Again, in the unlikely event the machine doesn’t save the energy/money it claims it will, the owner still has a functioning appliance.

Fear can hamstring people or projects, and fear has its place in our existence. But, if we can conquer that fear, whether it be individually or as an industry, imagine the greatness we can accomplish.

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