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Business Advisor

Business is Great in Green Home Building and Remodeling

My 4th Commandment: Keep the faith!

December 2009: Signed design contract for green design/build/remodel, 40-year-old suburban home; $90,000

Profile: Energy audit, kitchen remodel, remedial HVAC and insulation work

Status: Nearing completion as an ANSI Bronze remodel; Performance Path

January 2010: Signed construction contract for a LEED home (Silver);


Profile: 3,100 sq. ft., Energy Star everything, wired for electric car and PV, spray foam and cellulose, standing-seam roof, VOC-free paints, PureBond cabinets, bamboo flooring

Status: Groundbreaking, July 2010

February 2010: Signed construction contract for major residential fire project; $240,000

Profile: Whole house gut, 60-year-old suburban home

Status: Bronze-level ANSI projected after August completion; Performance Path

March 2010: Completed remodeling of the “House That Love Built”; $440,000

Profile: Whole house gut, deep energy retrofit

Status: 1st Gold-level ANSI remodel in Texas; Prescriptive Path

May 2010: Completed design/build remodel of historic 1930s-era home; $120,000

Profile: Energy audit, master suite and laundry addition, kitchen remodel, HVAC, window and insulation replacement

Status: Silver-level ANSI remodel certification pending; Performance Path

June 2010: Signed design agreement for whole house remodel, 40-year-old suburban home; $160,000–$200,000

Profile: Kitchen, two bathroom remodels, master suite addition, insulation and window replacement

Status: Expected start date, August 2010; Bronze-level Performance Path projected

June 2010: Signed professional services agreement for LEED Silver custom home


Profile: 2,800 sq. ft., butterfly roof, very contemporary, Austin limestone

Status: Working through budget with goal of signing construction contract in July 2010

Bottom Line: There is green in green! I know you read about it every day, hear it at industry trade shows, see it online and watch it on TV, but you still wonder: When will it reach my hometown? When will I get a piece of that action? Keep the faith. That’s my 6th Commandment. Keep the faith!

Which means, when it arrives at your door, you need to be ready or you won’t hear the knock. You had better already have your green designations from the NAHB or the USGBC. You have to understand basic building science in your climate zone. You should be able to recognize the difference between a sales prospect that hugs trees and one whose sole focus is financial payback. You should know that premium green expertise means you mark your costs up, not down.

Since green building and remodeling are here to stay, you could argue there is plenty of time to figure it all out. But I’m here to argue, if you haven’t already signed projects similar in scope within the time-frame I listed above, you had better start rethinking your strategy, because the knocking on your door has already started. Green demand is here, and it’s here now! Keep the faith—these numbers are just around the corner for you, too.



    Be on the train or be on the tracks
    Opening up here too. Design work is raging. Construction contracts still slow to convert.

  2. Christopher Briley | | #2

    You're giving me that warm and fuzzy feeling that keeps the dark shadows away. Things are still sluggish up here in the north east, but I will keep the faith my brothers and sisters! Thanks for the blog post Michael.

  3. But What if We Are Wrong? | | #3

    The Thaw is Here
    With east coast expereincing Texas weather this week change will be on the way. Wacky waether will only benefir our businesses! But I honestly believe if we can get our "leadership" to step out the way we can turn this economy around and be just fine. Just need to send our US Congress and State Houses on an extended recess for the rest of the year so we can all get back to work!

  4. Pam | | #4

    Remodeling 40-yr-old houses Green?
    When is it "greenwashing" to say the remodeling a 40-60 yr old house is "green"? Most of these homes were quite well built to begin with. Is a $440,000 deep energy retrofit really "green". Is a 3,100 s.f. house "green"?

  5. Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP | | #5

    40 year old Houses
    I guess the best answer to that question Pam is another question: "WHY is the house being remodeled to begin with?" In most cases the 40 year old houses that we remodeled are anything but "well built". They might be lucky to have r-9 insulation in the walls, there will only be remanants of insulation left in the attic, none of them have radiant barriers for the roof, the appliances, windows and lighting are not even in the same league as the Energy Star counterparts now availble in the market. The water heaters have none of the efficiencies of todays tanked or tankless models. The plumbing fixtures are guzzlers that use 2-3 times the water of todays Water Sense certified fixtures. The duct work leaks like a sieve, the efficiency rating on the ac are single digit. Son on and so forth.

    Bottom line is these "well built" 40-60 year old homes might have good bones and foundations but I tell our clients that when it comes to the rest of the home: thank goodness we don't build them like that anymore!

    As for a 3100 square foot being green that sounds like a topic for another blog!

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