Helpful? 3

The First National Green Code — or Communism?

Do we need a national green construction code — or would such a code be a threat to our freedom?

Posted on Jan 10 2012 by Vera Novak

After a few false starts, the International Code Council (the code writing body for the U.S.) finally prevailed with the new International Green Construction Code, to be available in Spring 2012. Already there is media spin about the wonderful leadership shown by the U.S. in setting the example by providing such a code. Hoorah for the U.S.! I think…

It often baffles Europeans how it is possible to have a code which is not enforceable as a law until the governing code bodies, either statewide or by individual jurisdiction, vote that code into law. Of course this is after they made modifications in the codes to suit them. And... the local AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) is still lord of his or her own domain.

Do we really need a new code?

Is it really appropriate to set “green construction” out as yet another “code,” when we already have the IECC International Energy Conservation Code. (energy code) and IRCInternational Residential Code. The one- and two-family dwelling model building code copyrighted by the International Code Council. The IRC is meant to be a stand-alone code compatible with the three national building codes—the Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) National code, the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) code and the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) code./IBC (building code)? The ICC body was assembled in 2000 to simplify and consolidate the three existing regional building codes. The scope was originally “life safety,” but already in the 2003 version, the purpose was enlarged to also include the public health and general welfare, through various attributes, including energy conservation.

Wouldn’t green building fall under the category of the public’s general welfare? Isn’t the creation of yet another code the opposite of the original effort to consolidate the codes? On the other hand, I support the effort as the most expedient way for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and ASHRAEAmerican Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). International organization dedicated to the advancement of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration through research, standards writing, publishing, and continuing education. Membership is open to anyone in the HVAC&R field; the organization has about 50,000 members. to push the more progressive 2030 Carbon Neutral Goal ahead of the slower IRC/IBC code cycle. Now if we could just get local AHJs to adopt and enforce it...

Communism, plain and simple

What caught my attention were the comments that some readers posted concerning this seeming imposition of building green: “This is communism, plain and simple. Our Freedom is history.” At least this gentleman enjoyed his freedom of speech.

For the sake of discussion, let’s consider the impact of communism on the built environment. Communist Russia produced very poorly crafted buildings, which were almost immediately in disrepair and certainly not energy-efficient. Also, for the sake of discussion, let’s not forget that this code must still be voted in by the local AHJs, who are hired by the free citizens of the municipality or state. So the IGCC is definitely not communism.

Based on this gentleman’s last name, he appears to be of German origin. Had his forefathers not emigrated, he could be living in one of the growing number of communities throughout Germany which have mandated very aggressive energy-efficiency standards. Indeed, many of the new requirements in the IGCC have long been enforced codes in much of Europe. For example, there is a requirement for the dew point to fall outside the building envelopeExterior components of a house that provide protection from colder (and warmer) outdoor temperatures and precipitation; includes the house foundation, framed exterior walls, roof or ceiling, and insulation, and air sealing materials., for a given climate and wall construction. Material toxicity is much further evolved and drives innovation in insulation, paints, mastics, and fabrics.

The U.S. has some catching up to do

In fact, our communist-averse commentator might notice that many of the greenest of “green” programs have not come from the U.S., but from overseas (for example, Passivhaus and the Carbon Trust). He might be surprised that the USGBCUnited States Green Building Council (USGBC). Organization devoted to promoting and certifying green buildings. USGBC created the LEED rating systems. LEED’s highest ranking of Platinum would only score “very good” (second highest) on the BREEAM system used in the U.K., and that Life Cycle Analysis databases and software are much further developed in Europe and the old British Empire than in the U.S.

And, for the sake of our previous discussion, all of these initiatives have been the result of individuals — people who have pushed their own building codes to a higher level of performance standard. Besides, his forefathers and other immigrants came to America because this was the land of opportunity, a land which was once known as being ahead of the curve, a land of people who embraced changed, who took risks. What has happened to this spirit?

I mention all this not to degrade in any way the hard work of the AIA, ASHRAE and the ICC. In fact, I commiserate with the political realities they faced when trying to push forth this initiative that is truly a benefit to the public welfare. But this as a reminder that the U.S. has some catching up to do in this particular domain, and I urge us all to encourage our local AHJs to adopt this new Green Code.

I count on the experience gained in building science since the 1970s and seasoned energy efficient builders to lead the way. For when 100% of the U.S. is actively engaged in trying to meet this green goal in both new construction and remodel, then we will have the grounds on which to stand to be proud of our leadership.

Vera Novak writes the Eco Build Trends blog and is currently earning her PhD in Construction from Virginia Tech.


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  1. International Code Council
1.
Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:09

We Must Do Better
by Doug McEvers

Helpful? -1

Vera,

Thank you for bringing the Green Code to our attention, we can and must build better in this country. We have MPG standards for autos, this has raised the efficiency of the fleet over the years and cut emissions as well. As energy becomes increasingly scarce and expensive the choice to build better will be made for us.


2.
Tue, 01/10/2012 - 18:05

green build compliance............
by Kenneth Terzini

Helpful? -1

we all pay higher energy prices in this country because of the massive waste...........there are those that want to do what they want but in the end we pay to subsidise there living style...the rest of the world in way ahead of us in energy innovation and implementation.....because of there incentive to attain better results............


3.
Wed, 01/11/2012 - 03:51

Edited Wed, 01/11/2012 - 03:52.

You just don't get it!
by Ted Clifton

Helpful? -3

Vera, you just don't understand human nature!

When something becomes "code", it inspires a race to the bottom: How can I just barely meet the minimums of this code at the lowest possible cost?

When something is voluntary and market-driven, it inspires a race to the top: How can I provide the best possible product, even better than the market demands, at the lowest possible price point?

Which model do you think has resulted in my company's development of the Positive NRG™ Home?

While I believe everyone should be designing and building homes the way we do, I would not want anyone to be forced to do so. The industry needs to evolve as it is able, not as it is forced. There is a reason why the LEED program and the Passive House program are second-rate. 'Nuff said!


4.
Wed, 01/11/2012 - 04:55

Response to Ted
by Vera Novak

Helpful? -2

Au contraire, I totally agree with you. Code is indeed the worst one is allowed to build, and is intended for the masses, who - unlike you – need a bit of nudging. As I mentioned, the initiatives of Passivhaus, and LEED were voluntary and market driven, and are being adopted as benchmarks by the more progressive municipal agencies.
There will always be those who are inspired to race to the top, and those who will denounce all changes with cries of economic hardships, but then figure out a financially viable solution anyway. Human nature has great diversity, and as such, calls for diverse approaches.


5.
Wed, 01/11/2012 - 05:48

ted, by your definition, if
by mike eliason

Helpful? -1

ted,

by your definition, if net zero/passivhaus/etc. were to be code minimum - we would see folks finding creative methods to 'meet the minimums' (which would really be maximums) for a minimum of cost.

what a horrible 'race to the bottom' that would be. oh, and that's exactly how LEED has played out - and is how passivhaus is playing out in europe as we speak.


6.
Wed, 01/11/2012 - 10:40

Edited Wed, 01/11/2012 - 10:44.

Carrot or stick?
by T.C. Feick

Helpful? -1

I think a lot about incentive vs. mandate as it applies to green building, and I think that at this point incentive is the right answer. Let me explain. The IGCC is a perfect example; here is codified content ready for adoption by your local jurisdiction. Without broad based understanding of sustainability and its role in the built environment, only some municipalities or states will adopt, and there will be backlash and spotty enforcement of a mandate without support. On the other hand, if the green building community and governmental agencies can do a better job educating our communities on the clear benefit and need to build better, our neighbors will seek these attributes and techniques in the housing they choose to live in. At that point, the building community will facilitate that market shift. Without broad-based buy in, the IGCC will be a toothless tiger, as there will be little broad based support for a mandate with a financial cost and no articulated benefit. So, I think that USGBC and all of us in the green building community should shift back to advocacy and education, and realize that legislation alone will not get us anywhere near where we need to be. Why does it work in Europe? Because the public has a deeper knowledge and longer history with sustainability related issues. These things are part of their culture, and green building is a natural expression of that. No one likes a mandate they do not understand, and my neighbors and yours are living proof. Be ready to debate well articulated counter points to green building, and keep discussing. We are way ahead of where we were just five years ago. The code is not a bad thing; it just will not get the support it needs at this point.


7.
Wed, 01/11/2012 - 12:59

TC has it right
by David Rush

Helpful? -2

You can lead a horse to water, but you can not make him drink. For green to work it has to be market driven. Maybe we all need to do a better job of explaining what it means to be green to our customers.


8.
Wed, 01/11/2012 - 18:46

Matter of Constitutional Law
by Johnny Ritzo

Helpful? -1

Vera,

One thing to consider is whether or not Congress has the authority to enact a unified National Green Construction Code. I am a bit new to this arena, so I am interested to hear your thoughts.

To make the National Green Construction code federal law, Congress would likely have to fit it within the Commerce Clause (allowing Congress to regulate goods/services in a stream of commerce that cross state lines). Although materials used to build homes cross state lines, the homes themselves never do, which suggests the Federal Government doesn't have the constitutional power to enact the Code.

On the other hand, the Constitution specifically grants states the power to enact laws relating to the health, safety and morality of its people. It seems from the post, that this Code is more about public welfare, which belongs to the states. This means that states have to adopt the Code independently, which was the case with the IRC and the IECC.

In conclusion, it's great for the states to have a guide when enacting "Green Building Legislation," but I doubt the Federal Government can force them into it.


9.
Wed, 01/11/2012 - 19:14

Doing nothing was not the right thing to do
by Wynn White

Helpful? -1

If we wait on the construction market to drive energy efficient buildings, we'll be waiting a might long time (contractors don't pay the energy bill, owners do).

At least the ICC is moving in the right direction.

And, where does it say we can't use the IGCC as a piece in the public education process?


10.
Wed, 01/11/2012 - 19:35

We have freedoms
by Herb Scott

Helpful? 0

In this great country we have many freedoms. One of them is the freedom to be stupid, ignorant, and uninformed. An increasing number of Americans are taking advantage of this freedom. God forbid that we be told to save money, the environment, and our planet.
I don't see us "catching up" any time soon.


11.
Wed, 01/11/2012 - 21:55

Enactment, Enforcement, Jurisdiction
by Vera Novak

Helpful? 0

The governance of construction in the United States is a multi-entity, multi-step process. I-Codes are developed through a very transparent, predictable and formalized process of industry input through task groups and public forums with the Code Council, which is comprised of elected code officials. I have found the process balances industry input, technical and scientific expertise, and public interest.

However, this is a voluntary set of standards, which only becomes enforceable when voted into law by jurisdictions. Many of the Western States apply the I-Codes statewide, other states leave this up to individual cities. Jurisdictions may choose among the release dates of the codes, mixing an IRC 2003 with an IBC2009. They often amend the codes to address local business practices. Enforcement is entirely up to the local jurisdiction. The point is that this is hardly something which is pushed upon the construction trade, and it DOES NOT originate from the federal government.

In reference to training, there is a tremendous opportunity to use these codes as a learning opportunity. When I worked in the ICF industry, we did many seminars for AHJ’s, addressing the product as it related to the codes. I found the building inspector associations (regionally organized) were VERY receptive to information. The flip side is the opportunity for building officials to use the codes as a training tool, such as when Gil Rossmiller used the 2009 code update cycle to introduce, train and enforce the requirement for a Manual J – which resulted in a 20% energy improvement in the homes built in Parker, CO.


12.
Thu, 01/12/2012 - 09:51

Two important things;
by T.C. Feick

Helpful? 0

Yes, the codes are a tool. Just like any other tool, if unused or used improperly, they are useless and harmful to our industry. ICC is not exactly open to all shareholders, as an individual builder will find participation very difficult, logistically, and costly. That being said, code changes are proposed, voted on, and amended by the membership. Industry massaging of the process is widespread in my opinion, and the IGCC is a good example of USGBC's (and others) efforts on legislative action. I say this as a matter of fact, not editorially. I believe that builders are not market innovators in the macro; They meet the market demands at the best value possible. In the micro, some small builders will be able to find a customer that will follow them down an educational path to the logical destination...buying the builder's very unique product. This is not the norm. Builders build what the market asks for. Unless the IGCC is broadly supported by the end user, those fighting this change will have a valid and powerful argument against its adoption, at least where free speech is valued, right or wrong.


13.
Thu, 01/12/2012 - 12:28

IGCC
by Forrest Fielder

Helpful? -1

Thanks for this interesting discussion. Even if the IGCC isn't ready for prime time (it isn't), it may help start a needed discussion about the respective roles of regulation and market efforts. Rather than getting bogged down in the controversies that will inevitably arise from topics like regional materials or indoor air quality, perhaps advocates for sustainability should focus on the big picture: this won't get traction until the public recognizes the long term consequences of the way we grow. The risk I see is that the substantial gains being made in energy conservation will be sacrificed by association with other "green" efforts. Energy conservation has the great advantage of cost-effectiveness - the public doesn't have to be persuaded to save the planet, since they already care about utility bills. In the meantime, those building sustainably should be encouraged at every opportunity - what's being learned will end up in regulatory language.


14.
Thu, 01/12/2012 - 15:29

Don't hold your breath waiting for the marketplace
by Mike Collignon

Helpful? 0

I wrote about this topic here (http://greenbuildercoalition.org/news/torch-10-2011#review), so I won't rehash all the details in this forum. But the one-line summary is this: Since the inception of Energy Star in 1995, the cumulative total of certified green homes via a national or regional program is somewhere between 4-5%. That's it.

Now, I am aware that a home doesn't have to be certified to be green. But, even after reviewing the numbers I compiled in the article, if you double them to include non-certified green homes, we're still in the 8-10% range.

Given the severe climate problem we face & the amount of technology, products and methods available, we should... no, we need to do better than (a best-case scenario of) 1 out of 10.


15.
Thu, 01/12/2012 - 15:34

One huge problem with the IgCC
by Mike Collignon

Helpful? 0

It doesn't do anything to improve residential units 3 stories & below. They have been completely left out of this code.

If that makes you happy, you can thank NAHB, AAMA, WDMA & BOMA for their testimony against low-rise residential's inclusion.

P.S. NAHB is attempting to get multi-family units out of the code, after the voting members already approved the code with the inclusion of those dwellings. The ICC Board has yet to decide on that request.


16.
Sat, 01/14/2012 - 14:22

Edited Sat, 01/14/2012 - 16:13.

Europe?
by Erik Mitchell

Helpful? 0

It seems that only americans know this "Europe" that the author is referring to. Ask any "european" and they will tell they are someone who lives in other countries. The fact that a few municipalities in Germany have green building codes does not make them european. We have waited forty years for a pan- european building code and each country has produce an annex to change it. BREEAM and passivhaus standard are voluntary, not mandated. That gentlemen was correct to relate a national mandated green building code to the central planning of a communist country. As for who is behind. Twenty years ago I built a house with a German architect. When I handed him a standard energy survey that I used in Massachusetts for obtaining a building permit, he was amazed at the whole idea of calculating the energy losses and estimating the necessary heating system.


17.
Mon, 01/16/2012 - 02:21

(self) government
by Vera Novak

Helpful? -2

- It seems we are back to a question of governance. According to myth, mankind is a wise, magnificent creature who will rise to the occasion and act in a way which benefits all mankind (do unto others…). These would be the advocates of a free market economy, luddites, the no-government advocates. However, as Mike so aptly pointed out, this has produced but a small blip on the radar. This same free market is very self-serving, and has a very heavy hand in commercializing and weakening new regulations. The NAHB is against the IGCC because have a vested interest in their Green Building Code. So between the anarchy of the individual, and the heavy hand of communism,we just have to muddle our way through the middle.


18.
Mon, 01/16/2012 - 05:42

Not Everything's What It's Cracked Up To Be
by A H

Helpful? -1

Vera - have you actually read any "green building codes"?

Living in the "greenie" state of California, I can tell what our latest version of "California Green Building Code" includes:

New Residential Construction - with a bidet: Men are allowed 1 flush per day, and women are allowed 6 flushes per day. Now you tell me that isn't a bit "over-the-top". I could rant about this for a good few hours - I'll let people's common sense tell them all the things that are wrong with this picture.

New Commercial Construction - we traditionally have "handicapped" parking spaces given preferred parking near the entrance to commercial buildings. Now with the new "green" code, preferred parking spaces will also be alloted to "green" vehicles, meaning, those who cannot afford to fork out for a new "green" vehicle will be asked to "park in the rear". Similar to asking Rosa Parks to "sit in the back of the bus", don't you think? It smacks of economic-prejudice, where the greenie yuppies have it all worked out for themselves to get "preferred parking", and those who aren't as "progressive" and "yuppied-out" are treated like second class citizens - all while puttin' on as if they really care about anything other than their arrogant selves and want to "save" the environment.

I could go on with the financial hardships required "energy audits" are creating on those who want to sell their homes because they can't afford the payments for whatever reason (job loss, medical expenses, etc.) and would like to sell their home and keep a good credit rating, but can't because they can't afford to pay for the energy audit and whatever additional expenses those will turn up that are now required before they can put their home on the market! With the world economy as bad as it is these day, this is just another extortion mechanism so that those who are at the bottom of the economic ladder will lose, while those at the top will be picking up their foreclosed properties for much less.

I could go on with a long list of how "green" codes are screwing The People in this country. So please, desist with the haughty attitude that anything other than your :green" perspective is somehow unworthy. For all the "caring" "greenies" espouse, they sure do come off as arrogant, haughty, and uncaring about real living people, who are treated as if they should be hated and placed at the bottom of the chain merely for existing. The self-hate of the human species espoused by "greenies' really is a waste of what should be our Celebration of Life!

In fact, I suggest, Vera, that you actually start reading all the "green" ordinances, especially the fine print, that you're promoting first, before making a complete fool of yourself by promoting economic prejudice and every sort of "misrepresentation" of the truth for the sake of imposing more economic hardships to extort more $$ and wealth from those who can least afford it. It appears you've fallen for the "green" masquerade devised by those who really are using the "environment" to line their pockets and pad them with more wealth, taken from those who have probably worked harder than most "greenies" making up the rules today. If you were as smart as you think you are, you'd see how the "green movement" has been co-opted by the wealthy elitists, just as they co-opted the banking system for their own devises, and have also done a good job of co-opting "capitalism" for their own crony fascism. "Greenies" and the "green revolution" are just the latest in a long list of factions that have been created for the sole purpose of extracting wealth and/or power from others.

This short little glimpse at the Truth of what "green codes" are really doing, and what they're really about, was written by a person with over 50 years of living a life of "conservation" of our natural resources, which has nothing to do with the "green environmental" wealth-extorting fiasco we see today.


19.
Mon, 01/16/2012 - 12:12

Education and Regulation is the answer
by Jef Keighley

Helpful? -1

The title of the piece caught my attention and the commentaries are interesting, but the debate seems to be cast as in 'either-or' conundrum, which misses the point I think. The comments seem to lean to education versus regulation, but I think the practical reality demands both.

We don't have laws that say that we must love our children, because by and large, the vast majority of people do. Ideally, people are educated and learn how to raise safe and healthy families through our complex societal influences. However, education does not always work so we do have laws that say we must not abuse our children, because, unfortunately, some people do.

As a general proposition, we create laws or enact regulations, ie. codes, when we see that some people within our society refuse to demonstrate the the social responsibility to live by the needs and expectations of our society. Even as we educate to elicit good behavior we proscribe bad behavior with some form of enforceable regulation.

There are a variety of reasons why some refuse to exercise responsibility: sometimes its a matter of ignorance and/or incompetence, sometimes its a matter of greed, sometimes its a matter of pigheadedness. We don't allow automobile manufacturers to produce cars for our markets without seat belts and airbags. We don't allow individuals or companies to dump toxic waste into our rivers and streams. We don't allow people to beat up innocent people in the street just for the hell of it! The list of examples could go on, but the point is, we create enforceable regulations and laws to proscribe conduct by those who, for whatever reason, refuse to exercise their social responsibility to others. We create better outcomes by proscribing poor practices.

The North American automobile industry has been subjected to numerous waves of regulations over the years from seat belts, to air bags, to fuel efficiency, and the list goes on. Each time a new regulation was proposed the industry tore their hair and raved about increasing costs and the difficulty of meeting those new regulations. But in the history of the industry, notwithstanding their gnashing of teeth, they have met and surpassed the regulations ahead of the mandated schedule, every time! And yes, the vehicles did cost a little more, but the regulations created a level playing field even as they sparked innovation while creating better, safer and more efficient vehicles. The continuing success of the industry is an object lesson in the need to combine both public and industry education with regulation, for the betterment of all. Yes the process increased the cost of vehicles, but there are more people alive and still ambulant and healthy as a result and positive steps to abate air pollution have been achieved. We may pay more for our cars but we have benefitted significantly in other areas of our lives.

The vast majority of designers and builders are good, hard working people trying to do a responsible job to create quality buildings at an affordable price. But we all know of builders who do race to bottom to build the cheapest buildings allowable while hoping to pass off their minimal efforts for maximum return. At the outset, an attractive wall is an attractive wall regardless of whether it is properly weatherproofed, well insulated, sound resistant or structurally secure. The average home buyer only sees the last micron of attractive paint on the wall and has no idea of what is behind the wall. Thankfully, people are becoming more educated on the importance of quality, energy efficient construction practices and how many of those better practices might cost more in the short run but will produce savings in the long run. And while we must do more education, education alone is not enough. Enforceable codes on both the responsible and the irresponsible builders will improve the stock of quality buildings, while creating a level playing field in terms of pricing. The increased demand for products and components to meet the codified responsibilities will spawn innovation to meet those requirements and produce quality jobs and a healthier economy in the process. Good builders won't have a problem with the Green Building Code. Bad builders will, and they should!

The National Green Building Code is not 'communism', it is social and economic responsibility and will be good for the economy, the environment and all who live and breathe.


20.
Mon, 01/16/2012 - 13:14

Codes and Standards are considered a threat by some on the right
by William Fleming

Helpful? 1

People who call Green Energy Code communist also likely consider any sustainability initiative to be a threat to "freedom" and the Constitution. They think it's part of a paranoia about how "Agenda 21" is some sort of United Nations initiative to take over the U.S. and impose some sort of new world order. Many of them feel that anything with the term sustainable associated with it is a threat and must be a covert attempt to implement "Agenda 21."

I don't agree that creating a standard sets a lower limit and suppresses a desire to reach for higher standards. Too many problems are caused by people doing things badly in order to cut costs and deceive the customer. I've never heard of an inspector citing a builder for exceeding the code or spending too much money. Building to a higher standard usually costs more, and it is not likely that people will spend more unless the customer agrees to cover that cost.

Unless American builders embrace energy efficiency and higher standards the American people will continue to be stuck with inefficient buildings that will cost them much more money in the future. Inefficient businesses are more expensive to run and are likely to close down. Inefficient buidings are more expensive to run and are more likely to be shut down. If our rival countries are more energy efficient they will be stronger competitively. Energy efficiecy is in a larger sense a National Security issue.


21.
Mon, 01/16/2012 - 13:56

Elitism on Display
by Phillip O'Reilly

Helpful? -2

If you want to build a more energy efficient house by all means, do so. However, I will bet lunch that green building codes would increase the cost of housing for the so-called masses even after compensating for energy savings.

Natural gas prices are headed down. The Keystone Pipeline will likely drive the price of oil down. Finally, the evidence of anthropogenic global warming continues to erode. Why would we empower bureaucrats with more authority given these circumstances? These are the same bureaucrats in Europe who forced families off their property so that they could remove the dikes that had held back the sea for generations — all in the name of the environment.


22.
Mon, 01/16/2012 - 14:19

A National Green Code
by Wm. Bruce gardner

Helpful? -1

Come on, really? I thought the whole reason to combine the 3 regional codes was to simplify and make it easier to follow. Why do we, as Americans, try to make everything more difficult than it really is. The last thing we need to do is make the building codes something akin to our tax code. No one understands it, even the people who inforce the code. Why can we not incorporate the green codes into the Energy Codes. If left seperate, you know that there will be loads of contradictory language between the Energy code and the Green code. Builders will be crucified if they follow one and violate the other. It will be a mess.
Here is what I suggest. I agree that the US lags behind the rest of the world in energy conservation. in fact, our track record, especially in the residential sector, is horrible. Strengthen the energy codes and have them coincide with the building codes. The energy code can be green also, but it needs to allow for practical applications. I have been saying this for over a decade here in Chicago. Also, unfortunately, it will have to be mandated. Again years ago I was telling builders that they should look at making the homes built more energy efficient. Offer several levels of energy saving options. I was told time and again, "No one will buy them", so we are not going to do it. Well, here we are, 2012 and it has to be forced onto the industry because it is change that most do not want to have to deal with and energy costs have gone through the roof.
We as an industry need to get with the program of building energy efficient homes and buildings from renewable resources. It needs to become second nature. But it does not have to be over regulated.


23.
Mon, 01/16/2012 - 16:09

Caveat Emptor
by Christian Finrow

Helpful? -1

I am not a builder, I am one of the consumers that bought a new "home" in 2000. The subcontractor didn't Habla Ingles so I couldn't tell them what I was not pleased with: the windows leaked as they didn't have the flashing installed, the back door was installed backwards so it opened OUT into the backyard, with the hinge pins exposed - ease break in, half of the electrical didn't work, none of the walls were straight, corners were not 90 degrees, and everyone was pointing fingers at everyone else and this thing passed code.
After this and my time in the military, the last thing I will tolerate is more government interference - a "bit of nudging" from incompetents that want to tell me how to live.
'Green' does not mean sustainability. I don't care what you tell me your intentions are, I will always look to the results of your policies to find out what you truly stand for. Green policies have always resulted in hurting business and the consumer - as the cost is always passed on to the consumer by the company (or to the taxpayer by the government in the form of taxes). This is either through ignorance or by design.
I have no problem with sustainability, it only makes smart business sense if implemented correctly.
What I do have a problem with is someone else telling me that I have to do what they say " for my own good".
I DECIDE WHAT IS FOR MY OWN GOOD. NOT SOCIETY, AND NOT SOME ACADEMIC IN VIRGINIA.
When I buy my land and have my retirement home built, it will be to the quality I want and of the materials I specify. If I want to flush the toilet 100 times a day, then I am using my own water from the rainwater capture system I'll have in place.

Keep Europe in Europe. If I wanted to be more like them, I would move there, don't bring it here. If you like Europe, I'll personally pay for your one way ticket over there - I hear Greece has some problems for you to fix.


24.
Mon, 01/16/2012 - 19:25

Do the right thing
by M V

Helpful? 0

I was always taught to do the right thing. As the age old saying goes, “if a job is worth doing, then it’s worth doing right”. Shouldn’t we apply this wisdom to the work we’re doing today? Why would we want to build sub-par homes, wasting our precious resources and efforts, when we all know there’s a better way?

As a builder, I’ve always taken great pride in what I do. Personally, I’d have a hard time looking myself in the mirror if I didn’t work to my full potential each and every day. This includes using the best materials, tools, and technical know-how available. It also means doing things differently as I learn and grow. I always enjoy learning more about how and why buildings work (or don’t), and constantly challenge myself to find ways to improve my work (thank you Fine Homebuilding & GBA). “Looks good enough from where I live” has never been my part of my vocabulary.

And, I know I’m not the exception, but rather, the rule. Throughout history our profession has sought new technology and methods to improve the standard of construction. As a result, our buildings have become safer, more comfortable, and just plain better in every regard. So, why change course now? Let’s embrace this new “green” code sooner rather than later, and work together to efficiently incorporate it into the homes we build. Our future generations will thank us for the effort, and benefit most greatly from the example we provide.

I believe strongly in our code, and it’s evolution as a means to better buildings. I do not agree with those who claim it as a “race to the bottom” in terms of quality, or question its intent as “big brother”. Nor do I think the market will dictate what is best... How many homeowners could describe the intricacies of moisture migration, heat transfer, or air changes per hour? That’s what they expect us to do for them. Incorporating “green” standards into the code will level the playing field, and in effect allow all builders compete fairly with one another by requiring a consistent level of quality from one home to another.


25.
Wed, 01/18/2012 - 06:33

Dear God - Now it's Greens under the bed
by Siobhan Winter-Smith

Helpful? -1

All hail the market ~ and just look at the excellent job and what it's done for the rest of capitalism ~ so, why are so many (not all) Americans so afraid ~ IMO purely and simply because capitalism is designed to worship profligacy. Moreover, capitalism has a food chain ~ in America's case it rides on the backs of its poorest and, in turn, the rest of the World. Energy saving is sensible and humane. Why, it can even prevent waR...


26.
Wed, 01/18/2012 - 13:04

Mother Nature bats last, and she always bats 1.000
by Mike Collignon

Helpful? -1

This dilemma is a train that just isn't stopping. It's not going away no matter how much crud gets sent down any pipeline, or how well some impersonate an ostrich.

For those who still have a respectable attention span, I submit this very lengthy article:

http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=full

I have yet to see a better exploration into the two sides of this debate.


27.
Tue, 01/24/2012 - 13:40

communism?
by mark hiller

Helpful? 1

I am confused about the premises underlying this discussion. Why in particular do we take for granted an anti-communist point of view? At the very least the issue of green building vs. communism, as it has been framed here, begs the question. That is, it assumes to be true what is in fact the very question.


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