One of the liveliest sessions at this year’s NESEA-sponsored conference (BuildingEnergy 16) in Boston was a panel discussion featuring four remodeling contractors. These energy-conscious New England builders talked about the challenges they face as they try to incorporate energy improvements into remodeling projects.
The session, “Retrofit Like You Care About It: Inspiring Homeowners to Care About Efficiency,” featured Jamie Wolf (owner of Wolfworks in Avon, Connecticut), Joe Carry (owner of Decumanus Green in Lenox, Massachusetts), Heather Thompson (owner of Thompson Johnson Woodworks, Peaks Island, Maine), and Paul Eldrenkamp (owner of Byggmeister in Newton, Massachusetts).
Moderator Dan Kolbert (owner of Kolbert Building in Portland, Maine) joined the discussion during the question-and-answer period.
Each of the panelists spoke for a few minutes, and then the audience was invited to ask questions.
“Performance is invisible. So how can we help homeowners learn to value what they can’t see?”
“We bear the responsibility to alleviate our clients’ confusion. People want to make smart choices. So provide your clients with a set of smart choices.”
“We need to anchor our ideas to a compelling story. ‘Barefoot comfort’ is a familiar sensation. It’s a useful place to start.”
“Ice dams inspire action. Ice dams provide an opportunity to explain systemic failures.”
“Don’t start with the solution; start with problem-seeking. Diagnosis comes before treatment. Start with blower-door testing and energy modeling.”
“Make decisions that are important for performance early in the design process.”
“Communicating all of this takes patience and persistence. Keep calm and choose your battles wisely.”
“The builders I admire don’t present green building as an option. They only do one kind of building.”