Energy-Efficient Housing Starts With Building a Team
While encouraging cooperation among employees is an essential element of success in business and is so critical that an entire industry is devoted to providing team-building options, winners of the 2009 EnergyValue Housing Award (EVHA) emphasize the importance of their personal involvement in building and motivating teams that are dedicated to producing energy-efficient housing.
Simply sharing his enthusiasm for doing a job well and letting that enthusiasm spread is an approach that works for Ted Clifton, president of EVHA winner Clifton View Homes.
Clifton doesn’t sugarcoat or try to minimize the team-building process. “It’s a long process that starts with the general contractor,” he says. “You need to clearly understand what you are doing, and why, so that you can make your case to trade contractors. There will be some resistance at first, and you need to take it one step at a time, but with confidence and enthusiasm, everyone is going to follow.”
This team-building approach is also important when builders go beyond energy efficiency to construct green homes. The creation of a green planning and management team is an important component when building a home to the National Green Building Standard.
Clifton stresses the need to introduce ideas systematically, not all at once, so that trades can comfortably add each new process or product to their repertoires.
Carl Seville of Seville Consulting, another EVHA winner, takes a blunter approach to building a consensus. “Don’t offer alternatives,” he says. “You have to set the rules. Set high standards and stick to them by holding trade contractors accountable.”
Seville cautions that while it is important to show individual contractors on the job site how to achieve energy-efficient or green goals, it is essential to get the contracting company owner’s buy-in. He also stresses the importance of inspecting work, especially when there is employee turnover within any of the trade companies.
While Seville has developed his own set of job site specifications, and currently helps other builders do the same, Clifton takes advantage of the local green building program’s trade contractor “cheat sheets” to inform trades of their responsibilities. According to Clifton, “It is critical to supply contractors with the right information they need to do the job. We tell them what they need to do and when they need to get involved” via contractual documents that are signed each year.
For Clifton’s company “going green” was a fundamental change that affected the entire job-site culture. “Once you have trade contractors thinking about the job they’re doing and how it relates to the entire project, they start looking for better products or more efficient ways to use existing products.”
Clifton notes with pride that fuel-efficient vehicles are becoming the norm on his job sites, alongside his Honda Civic hatchback that he loads with an eight-foot ladder and tools.
Both Seville and Clifton recommend training for builders who are getting started with energy efficiency and green home building.
“But that’s just the beginning of your education,” says Seville. Beyond that, he recommends working with a mentor or consultant who can help write specifications.
Some existing tools for setting high performance home standards include the Energy Star ”Thermal Bypass Checklist” for insulation and air sealing and the four initial Building America High Performance Scopes of Work that cover excavation and backfill, poured concrete foundations, framing and HVAC installation.
More high performance scopes of work from Building America will appear in coming months on the NAHB Research Center’s ToolBase Services Web site.
The 2010 EnergyValue Housing Award competition is officially closed, and entries are being judged at the NAHB Research Center this month. Once the judging is complete, members of the public can vote for their favorite EVHA finalist for the People’s Choice Award, or learn more about the competition, by visiting the EVHA Web site.
For more information on high-performance home building and related programs, contact the NAHB Research Center.
‘National Green Building Standard’ Available at BuilderBooks.com
“The National Green Building Standard,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides “green” practices that can be incorporated into multifamily and single-family new home construction, home remodeling and additions and site development.
The standard covers lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and owner education.
Currently the first and only ANSI-approved green building rating system, the National Green Building Standard is the benchmark for green homes.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here.
The Future of Residential Construction Is Green
The Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation teaches builders, remodelers and other industry professionals techniques for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options.
Earning the CGP demonstrates to clients and peers your commitment to the best and latest in green building practices and techniques. Nearly 4,000 people have earned the CGP designation to date.
For more information, visit www.nahb.org/CGPinfo.
‘Build Green and Save’ Available at BuilderBooks.com
“Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line,” available through BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference that shows builders how to identify and select green building materials; implement green construction techniques; explain the benefits of green housing and offer affordable green building solutions to consumers; and use resources wisely and reduce water and energy consumption.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.