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BS* + Beer

The BS* + Beer Show: The State of the Industry

An all-star panel offers insights into the past, present, and potentially bright future of the building industry, at least if we heed their advice

To perform an analysis of gas vs. electric HVAC systems in energy-efficient Maryland homes, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted computer simulations of their Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility using a unique toolset of databases and software known as BIRDS (Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability). Image courtesy NIST.

We took a poll at the beginning of last week’s BS* + Beer Show and asked how people felt about the state of the residential building industry. Most people replied that they think it is “improving.” It seems our panelists agreed, even if the industry is not improving quickly enough for some of them.

  • Carl Seville, the Green Building Curmudgeon, sees a lot of positive change in the multi-family housing he works on and feels strongly about the success that integrated design brings to all building projects.
  • Chris Ermides of This Old House and a former editor at Tools of the Trade, used the dramatic evolution and current quality of power tools as well as the robust, information-sharing community of builders on social media as examples of, and agents for positive change.
  • Rob Yagid, the executive director of Keep Craft Alive, examined the inextricable link between quality building professionals and quality homes and made a passionate plea for viable careers in the trades for young folks with the inclination to walk this path.
  • Armando Cobo, a zero-energy custom home designer and building consultant spoke on the importance of training, certification, progressive building codes, and helpful and enforceable green and high-performance building standards.
  • Portland, Maine architect Phil Kaplan spoke about the role of heath and equality in housing and the link between home ownership and affordable housing and better quality construction, using projects from his architecture firm and BrightBuilt Home as solid examples.

The conversation that followed the panelists’ presentations was one of the best we’ve had—we even let the episode run a little long. Enjoy the show and please check out the info on our first BS* + Beer Book Club meeting below.

The next show is Thursday, July 30, from 6 to 7:30 pm: Windows, the sequel: important installation details. Joins us next week as we continue our discussion of windows with a focus on high-performance installations. Two confirmed panelists are Steve Baczek and Jake Bruton and there may be some surprise guests as well. Use this link to register for The BS* + Beer Show.

The BS* + Beer Book Club

NCAcoverdropBecause the hosts of the BS* + Beer Show all love to read, we thought we would celebrate the authors in our industry by adding a book club to the show every few months. We’ll announce the book, give you a few months to get it and read it, if you haven’t already, and conclude with a BS* + Beer Show episode where we will invite the author to join us, present, and take questions.

The first book we’ll read is “The New Carbon Architecture” by Bruce King. Bruce will join us on the show on September 24.

Here’s a bit from Bruce’s publisher:

A tour de force by the leaders in the field, The New Carbon Architecture will fire the imagination of architects, engineers, builders, policy makers, and everyone else captivated by the possibility of architecture to heal the climate and produce safer, healthier, and more beautiful buildings. 

I hope you will join us on September 24th.

Brian Pontolilo is a former editor at Fine Homebuilding magazine and Green Building Advisor.



  1. JC72 | | #1

    On issue is that residential construction is highly cyclical (boom-bust cycles). The cyclical nature largely is to blame for these "issues" within the industry. The higher up the food chain in the business the easier it is to weather the cycles.

    One other issue is that I suspect he majority of homebuyers look at a home as a commodity to satisfy their requirements for a finite period of time (ex, moving into an area, good schools, retirement living) so they want the absolute lowest cost in order to reap the highest net profit which will be applied towards the purchase of their next home (Ex, custom owned free an clear at retirement). Personally we never intended to stay in our home for more than 5 - 10 yrs, yet here we are 20 yrs later. This was not the plan.

    BTW..Armando rocks! Telling it like it is.

  2. Michael_Anschel | | #2

    Armando and Carl keeping it real!

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