This Blog I wrote in 2013 is worth another read or a first one if you didn’t catch it then. This will be the last Encore Blog I will post as I will write 12 new ones monthly in 2015.

building sustainable green homes can it be done

Building Sustainable Green Homes – Can It Be Done?

May 31, 2013 | Author Herb Gardner

We started the Green Builders Journal as a way to share the perspective of a builder on what it means to us to be Green. As I’ve said a 1000 times in this Blog, Green is one of those words that gets used a billion times a day, but doesn’t have one standard definition. Everyone that uses it has their own definition. The Blog is our way of giving the public our definition. I’m also using it to share some of the interesting stories we’ve encountered on our journey towards being a “cutting edge” Green builder. I’ve teased my two favorite stories a bunch of times by referring to it as the insanity of government and last time I shared the first. Here’s the second. You be the judge on whether you think it’s pretty insane.

The State of California is, and has always been, a leader in encouraging Green building. Long before Green was even a term, the State has been a huge proponent of policies encouraging energy conservation. Because it involves a change of mindset and a new way of doing things, businesses, for a long time, ignored the Green movement and thought of it as government meddling in the capitalistic free market system. This short sighted, lame argument is what businesses always seem to use when they don’t like the idea of having to adapt to real world concerns. The benefit to others outside their businesses always seems to be of less concern than the current earnings of “their” company, and when someone asks businesses to look at the big picture instead of the quarter to quarter profit concerns of themselves, they scream government interference in the free market or another “tree-hugger” protest designed at limiting “their” ability to earn a profit. It didn’t matter that the rate of energy consumption at the time was completely unsustainable. Businesses essentially ignored the energy conservation movement for a long time.

So the State of California implemented through Title 24 of the California Code a compliance “test” for anything wanting a building permit in the State. It was now going to be mandatory for businesses to build more energy efficient homes and buildings. You literally cannot build anything in the State of California unless it “complies” with the “test”. Over time the State has continued to raise the bar of the compliance test as a way of forcing builders to continually evolve in what they build to the point that eventually everything built will be Net Zero Energy. Net Zero Energy means that the energy used by the home or building will be supplied 100% BY THE BUILDING OR HOME. That’s the ultimate definition of sustainability.

We’re a pretty long way from that goal but there’s no question we’re well on our way and the State, through the compliance test, is an example of “good government” because they implemented policies where the benefit of all outweighs the benefit of a few.

Here’s more good news. SCE, the power company has a program for homebuilders where they offer rebates for homes built that are more than 15% above the minimum compliance test. I know they’re technically not a government, but anyone that has ever dealt with them can tell you, it’s not much different. So we have two forms of “good government”. The State mandating a minimum level of energy efficiency, and the power company financially incentivizing a level 15% above that minimum. What a goal for a builder that has already bought into the idea that Green building is the future and the first one to fully figure it out….wins. City Ventures made that commitment when we formed the Company four years ago and incentives makes it an even sweeter and smarter decision.

But that doesn’t sound insane. It sounds like a great government/private partnership doing what’s best for all.

Until next time



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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