Building Energy Bottom Lines Summit

In November of this year, NESEA will be hosting the Building Energy Bottom Lines Summit. As a member of the Bottom Lines program, as well as a participant on its steering committee, I have been mulling over the purpose of such a summit; while on a personal and professional level, I have been marveling over why it has never crossed my mind not to attend it, whatever its purported purpose.

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Sometimes This Job Sucks

In our weatherization work we blow a lot of cellulose insulation into attics, a whole lot. I love cellulose insulation. It is relatively inexpensive. It is made from 85% post consumer recycled materials (essentially shredded newspapers and pulp fiction). It has compelling r-values and it is completely inflammable (the 15% non-recycled content is a borate mix serves as a fire retardant and moldicide). Continue reading

The Little Echo That Could

I am a member of Bottom Lines, a peer review network of builders and architects sponsored by NESEA. The fundamental mission of Bottom Lines is to support companies in their efforts to attend to a triple bottom line: profits, people and planet. The group has been hugely instrumental in improving my ability to carefully track my profitability and understand its source. In this way it has made the company more profitable and likely will continue to do so.

But what about the other two bottom lines: planet and people? These are matters that are much more difficult to define and track. I have no doubt about my company’s intention to commit to being “green to our core.” This commitment finds expression in the projects we choose and the values of the clients who choose us. But what about the way we function as a company? Do we operate as a company in a way that is fundamentally healthy for our planet and its people or not? When I step back and look objectively at that question, I get a little depressed. Let’s just say I see plenty of room for growth there.

But we are starting to take steps.

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Homer Our Remora Fish

Have you ever seen one of those remora fish cleaning the inside of a shark’s mouth? That has to be one of nature’s most terrifying jobs. But the little guys just soldier on, swimming into the massive toothy mouths of nature’s perfect killer so they can get a bite to eat and look after the health of their host. Perhaps its just instinct, but it sure looks like bravery. Continue reading

Mass Save or Massive Failure?

Early last fall the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) once again named Massachusetts as the most energy efficient state in the country. Massachusetts qualified for the distinction in no small part because of its utility sponsored efficiency program, known as Mass Save. The Mass Save program scored more points than any other state for its efforts, leading in both dollars per capita spent as well as projected savings. As a contractor participating in the implementation of the program, I felt a real sense of satisfaction in that news and shared it with pride with my crew. Continue reading

Greenberg Residence Update

The Greenberg Residence project is nearing completion.  Most of the remaining work will be completed by Laurel. As I noted in an earlier post (Nov. 2013), our performance goal for this job was to design and build an affordable house that would meet the Mass Save New Homes Program Tier III. By meeting this goal, the homeowner would be eligible for a $7000 rebate from Mass Save. Well, I am pleased to announce that after a final inspection and blower door test by Adin Maynard of His&Hers Energy Efficiency, Laurel’s house has been certified at the Tier III level and she will soon be receiving her rebate check. Continue reading

Order out of Chaos

One of the reasons I love building and renovating is that I love the process of bringing order out of chaos, a divine act if ever there was one. I love doing it, but I also love watching others do it. Continue reading

Let the Light Shine In

Wes, one of our lead carpenters, has had a summer window cleaning business on the side for many years.  He has a stable of happy, loyal customers, a stable that is getting larger every year.  Until this summer, Wes has scheduled his window cleaning jobs around his full-time work at Decumanus Green. But our schedule has gotten much more full this summer, and scheduling side window jobs was becoming more problematic both for Wes and for Decumanus. Continue reading