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Sep 9, 2010 8:00 PM  PST  

The Importance of talking to your Staff and Clients about Building Green 

by Ricky Critchfield
Owner and President
Critchfield Construction

While it has grown in recent years, the number of local contractors interested in, or educated about, green building and remodeling remains relatively small.  It’s ironic that here in Silicon Valley, the center of the universe when it comes to innovation, our industry continues to lag behind the times.  Few contractors seem inclined, or have the time and resources, to educate themselves.

In my opinion, there’s never been a better time to hire a Certified Green Building Professional.  It’s as simple as this: the healthier my industry is, the happier we’ll all be.  There is so much misinformation being fed to our clients that something must be done every day to show them (and my fellow contractors) that there’s really no mystery.  We show prospective clients, and reluctant contractors - every day - that a project can be planned and executed using responsible methods/materials AND create a well-functioning and attractive product as a result.  Everyone wins when we conduct business this way. But even though green building and remodeling practices are a very important topic these days, very few homeowners – or contractors! – know exactly where to begin.  

If you've been paying attention, you've been watching the construction industry undergo some sobering changes as economic and seasonal cycles swing (as they tend to do) from one extreme to another and back again.  The go-go days of new construction sprouting everywhere are fading for now, as residential and commercial owners look to improve what they have rather than “buy up” to bigger and fancier digs. They are thinking hard about where and how to spend their construction dollars and need to be sure they'll get what they want in the end.

Organizations associated with Build it Green lead the way in sustainable remodeling and new construction options that make a direct difference to the planet and to your home.  This is in light of the fact that, to date, there are few intelligible national standards on what constitutes a green remodel, or guidelines for appraisals that award homes with environmentally friendly technologies more value than their neighbors.  I have always believed that remodeling or building a home that uses less water and energy, improves indoor air quality, uses Forestry Service Council certified lumber, takes advantage of recycled or salvaged materials and minimizes construction waste while on the job, makes the most sense for our planet and our clients. 
Building or remodeling green protects residents’ health, provides a comfortable indoor environment, saves hard-earned money, and makes an important and timely contribution to saving our environment.  Using green materials will ensure the cleanest possible air quality.  These materials minimize the “off-gassing” of volatile organic compounds that harm everyone, and a remodeled green home suffers less air leakage because it’s properly insulated and sealed for the greatest year-round comfort. 
We need to tell our clients that remodeling/building green provides much-needed relief for homeowners with high utility bills.  Taking advantage of the latest products can cut utility costs significantly.  Some products are inexpensive and easy to use like a programmable thermostat and Energy Star appliances.  Others can take clients “off the grid” (or nearly) entirely like a new photovoltaic system.  Green homes reduce, re-use and recycle materials, keeping waste products out of our local landfills.  We promote the use of non-toxic materials which help clean the air that we all breathe.  Green homes are much more energy efficient and depend less on the fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.
I believe in conducting client relationships with integrity, responsibility and generosity.  The natural extension of this is to craft a relationship and a project for them that cares for the earth, their pocketbook and their desire for beautiful and functional living space all at once.
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Ricky Critchfield is owner and president of Critchfield Construction.  Critchfield Construction is a Build It Green Silver Sponsor.

The company has earned a Bay Area-wide reputation as a no-nonsense, no-problem builder and remodeling contractor.


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