Archive for January 2013

Last time I was ranting about the insanity of government.

It’s actually an interesting story once you understand the whole issue because it’s a story of government doing the right thing and then not being able to grasp the future and allowing bureaucracy to do the wrong thing.  Some of this I’ve already spoken about in earlier Blogs but sometimes it helps to repeat facts so the big picture can be better understood.

The State of California decided years ago it wanted to “encourage” builders to build more and more energy efficient homes.  I put encourage in quotes because you can encourage builders by cheering them on or you can encourage them by not allowing them to build unless they meet certain compliance minimums.  Guess which one works best?  It costs money to be energy efficient.  The reality of the marketplace is that no one will pay extra to buy an energy efficient home.  All buyers say they will if you survey them, but when it comes time to actually write a check for $20,000 MORE for an energy efficient home, they magically become less enamored with energy efficiency.  As a builder and someone that feels strongly about the Green movement, I’d love to build more energy efficient homes, but as a businessman I’m living in fantasyland to think I can outsell my competition by charging more for homes.  Thankfully through Title 24 in California we’re all on a level playing field.  Government did the right thing and through the compliance component of Title 24 of the State of California Building Code, anyone wanting a building permit had to have what they are building, comply with the current energy efficiency minimums.  Over time, the State ups the minimums’ of the compliance component and pushes the envelope of what it means to be an energy efficient home.

I must admit that without the compliance component of Title 24, I seriously doubt any homebuilders would be building as Green as we are.  Government action worked.  It has guided us bit by bit towards building more and better energy efficient homes.  The amount of natural resources that must go into the production of energy to power homes has dramatically decreased on a per home basis and all builders had to adapt to this new mindset or move to another state to build homes.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the very same government that pushed all builders towards being more energy efficient are now pulling them from moving too fast.  In my experience, governments work better inside of a box.  They understand the box.  They’re comfortable in the box.  Once you try and get them outside their box, gridlock occurs.  The real world moves a lot faster than the governmental world and even if it’s moving in the direction they want you to go, the governmental world doesn’t like to go too fast.

As I said last time there are two components when it comes to home energy.  The first is the “supply” of energy TO the home.  The second is the “demand” of the energy IN the home.  The box that government put themselves in is that the supply of energy to a home is supplied by utility companies.  Period.  There is nothing that can be done to affect that.  It is what it is.  In fact it’s a function of the demand of energy.  Supply is a function of demand.  The amount of natural resources necessary to supply the State’s homes with energy will always be equal to the demand of energy those homes require.  Therefore everything will be devoted towards lowering demand.  Supply will be ignored.

What happens if an “outside the box” builder wants to challenge the supply component of the energy equation?   How does that affect the Title 24 compliance model.  Simple.  It doesn’t.  It doesn’t because government is choosing to ignore it.

What?  That makes no sense.  Isn’t the big picture goal of Title 24 compliance to lessen the amount of natural resources used to supply energy to homes?  Of course it is.

Then why don’t they look at what the NET energy amount a home demands?  Simple again.  It’s outside their box.

More on this next month

Until then



The Green Builder’s Journal is written by Herb Gardner, President of City Ventures Home Building Group. Herb has 30 years experience managing the building of residential and apartment communities in over 60 municipalities in 3 different states.

A big proponent of in-fill communities and the urban lifestyle Mr. Gardner has extensive experience in all aspects of residential home building, ranging from land acquisition to warranty management, he specializes in managing teams of people in delivering communities on time, on budget and to the quality standards the marketplace demands.

For Questions, Feedback or observations you can Click here to Email Herb