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Green Advocate

Q&A With Ben Bogie

A second-generation green builder shares a few experience-derived insights into the industry as a whole

My new role at GBA has me talking to a lot of builders. It’s one of the things I like most about my job. On a recent episode of the BS* + Beer Show, Michael Maines, Emily Mottram, Travis Brungardt, and I talked about how we arrived at our respective professions. I really enjoyed hearing from each of them, and followed it up with a Q&A with Travis because I wanted to learn more about him. Similarly, Emily invited me onto her podcast because she felt the same about me. What I realized is that the building science community is tight. Again and again, I hear how appreciative builders and designers are to learn from one another. I believe that is why GBA’s Q&A forum is so popular—even after two decades. All of this is to say, we benefit from getting to know each other, so I’ve decided to make Q&A posts a more regular thing. 

Because Ben Bogie recently moved back to his hometown of New Milford, Connecticut, which happens to be close to where I live, I found myself visiting the project he is working on these days. It’s a Passive House designed by Richard Pedranti, and because it has some unusual details, we plan to feature it in Fine Homebuilding magazine. During my walkthrough with Ben, I got the sense that he is someone driven by science. I was right. He is also a second-generation builder who came up in his trade with a firm grounding in green building principles. This is where I’ll pick up with our conversation.

Kiley Jacques: Give us a little bio background to start.

Ben Bogie: In the late 1970s, influenced by the oil embargoes and energy crisis, my dad and…

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13 Comments

  1. Charlie Sullivan | | #1

    Thanks for tapping his wisdom and sharing some of it with us.

    The Krigger book link isn't working for me, but here's the publisher's site for what I think is the right book, on sale for a good price.

    https://srmi.biz/product/bookstore/residential-energy/

    1. Dan Kolbert | | #3

      Yeah, that's it, Charlie.

  2. Expert Member
    Malcolm Taylor | | #2

    Ben's approach makes a lot of sense.

    Thinking about his comments on longevity, I'd be interested in hearing this thoughts on how we could detail buildings to make the components that need periodic replacement easier to get at while minimizing disruption.

    (Kiley: perhaps the would be a good topic for a blog?)

    1. GBA Editor
      Kiley Jacques | | #5

      That’s an excellent topic idea, Malcolm. Thank you. I’ll give some thought to who might help inform a post. It would be interesting to hear from multiple people.

    2. Benjamin Bogie | | #12

      I like that idea Malcolm. I’ve always tried to build things as if someday I may be the poor sap taking it apart, often thinking about how things will be maintained or how to minimize necessary maintenance.

      1. Expert Member
        Malcolm Taylor | | #13

        I spent a month last summer replacing my shingle roof with a snap-lock metal one. This spring I'll be replacing the siding on the dormers i butchered replacing the side-wall flashing. If I'd thought through the detailing with an eye on replacement the first time, I'd now have three weeks to sit on the patio instead.

  3. Dan Kolbert | | #4

    Great profile, Kiley. We were lucky to have Ben on board while he tried life in the great white north, and his deep well of knowledge always helped us get things to a higher plane. Thank god he's using his powers for good, not evil!

    Plus he's a great guy with a wonderful family (and dog). I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next.

    1. GBA Editor
      Kiley Jacques | | #6

      Agreed, Dan—on all counts. I look forward to my Q&A with you...

      1. Dan Kolbert | | #8

        You say that now...

  4. Granular | | #7

    Glad to hear Ben wants to see exterior foam insulation disappear. I'd extend that sentiment to interior foam insulation as well. In 20 years, I suspect the notion of entombing yourself in an airtight foam-encased home will seem as bizarre as wrapping yourself in asbestos and lead paint does today.

  5. Jed Weissbluth | | #9

    Cheers to Ben for filling the cognitive void by getting feedback via diagnostics in the home. It should give him hard data, and the building industry could benefit from much more of that--and less marketing-talk, doing something a certain way "because that's how we've always done it", and unsubstantiated opinions. What data is he collecting? Any attempts to measure interior air quality?

    1. Benjamin Bogie | | #11

      How can we say we’re doing something if we don’t have data to prove it. I have done some measuring of IAQ parameters and am about to embark on an effort to really step up my monitoring in that area even further.

  6. Aaron Beckworth | | #10

    Jed,

    For more on this, take a look at Ben’s early GBA post, Why We Need Building Sensors.

    https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/article/why-we-need-building-sensors

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