Once a month in Portland, Maine, a group of builders, carpenters, architects, engineers, energy auditors, insulation contractors, and other fans of building science get together for, to quote the invitation, “an informal discussion for building professionals to ask, learn, debate, knock around, support, agonize over, ridicule, flog and answer the challenges and concepts of the best building practices.”
Steven Konstantino, owner of Maine Green Building Supply, hosts the bring-your-own-beverage-and-a-chair event in the warehouse space attached to the storefront where he sells everything from denim insulation to solar panel control systems. Dan Kolbert, a builder (and author) specializing in green homes, moderates the get-togethers, which often feature a topic pulled from a GreenBuildingAdvisor.com blog or Q+A.
Once everyone has had a chance to meet or catch up with each other while snacking on a hot dog or pretzels, Dan gets things rolling with a brief overview of the discussion topic—and then things generally erupt into a cacophony of opinions and ideas, and someone charging up to the chalkboard to illustrate his thoughts (no PowerPoint presentations allowed). In recent months we have discussed the whys and hows of insulating foundations, learned about ground source heat pumps, and participated in the ever-popular hot roof vs. cold roof debate. For the record, hot roofs won.
It’s interesting how just getting together with fellow building nerds—I mean, professionals—can lead to better, greener homes. Insulation contractors passionate about their craft provide just the right advice for an unusual project. An energy-efficiency expert suggests which model of bathroom fan to use, and which timer is the best. One of the area’s leading green architects mentions the podcast he hosts with a partner in another award-winning local firm. In the laid-back atmosphere, ideas are exchanged, friendships and business relationships are created, and despite the fact that many of us are competing for the same clients, it becomes clear that we’re all really working toward the same goal: better, greener homes.