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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Awards, Recognition, What-have-you & Green Building Rant Retraction

Some big honors came our way here at Catskill Farms recently - The River Reporter readers who voted us "Best Builder" and "Best Green Builder" and New York House editors named us (actually me) one of the ten 'Faces of Green Building' in the Upstate NY/Hudson Valley region, coupled with the likes of the Durst Organization and other big hitters.

Little ol' us - keeping it real by keeping it small, affordable, unique and creative.

New York House is a pretty substantial magazine so to be included is cool. I've included the cover page and here is the link to the magazine- the shout out is on page 19.

Which brings me to my point I guess. I few weeks ago I ranted a bit about the value of some of the green measuring sticks (LEED, etc...) because they weren't being asked to evaluate their buildings on their final performance and I thought what is the point of all the inspections, paperwork and cost if in the end you weren't proving that all that effort wasn't resulting in some sort of energy and cost superiority.

I guess, in retrospect, I got caught up in the the hysterical media technique of present day - where everything is black and white and you got to shout it.

The point being, even if there is a lot of baloney in the green movement, even if LEED certification in residential construction is mostly a bull-dung process of paying and massaging your LEED representative (I think LEED in commercial construction presents many more opportunities for real energy-reduction), the fact that the entire design/development/construction industry is now building better and keeping it's eye on the ball in terms of 'cost of ownership' and energy loss in homes and structures.

A lot of it is simple - pay attention to where energy leaks from a house, tape your ductwork good, use better insulation. Even production builders are focused a least minimally on 'greening' their homes. So no, homes being built aren't all of a sudden 'zero-energy' efforts spinning the electric meter backwards, but I would guess a lot of new construction is a lot more energy efficient than it was 4 years ago.

And that's progress. It's still true that a lot of the companies that are positioning themselves as 'save the earth, buy our homes' are probably in for a long slow slog of lackluster and unenthusiastic customer reaction, but nevertheless homes are becoming smaller, more efficient, and overall, greener.

My beef has not been with the industry and serious professional that have popped up around this movement, that will be around for quite some time. It's the charlatans, bull-shitters and marketeers that have twisted some good ideas into hard to value green initiatives, confusing the marketplace and placing a shroud of cynicism over the entire green field.

For instance, very few green builders say what we say or what we don't say - we don't say 'green', cause I'm not sure what that means. We say we are doing our best to build the best home we can for the money we are charging - and by best I mean the qualities of purchase price, cost of ownership, attention to uniqueness/aesthetic - in a word, Value.

Value sells. Green doesn't. It's a hard lesson.

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