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Mark has been a teacher, lecturer and consultant to the green building industry for more than 25 years. He helps builders and manufacturers put building science to work, creating high-performance homes that are more durable, energy-efficient, cost-effective and more enjoyable to live in.
News from the Field

Monday, January 28, 2008

Production Builders Can Still Be Innovative

DR Horton is one of the largest builders in the country. I've been working with their Sacramento Division for over 5 years and they are building some of the most innovative housing available. They are also implementing some of the best new marketing ideas I've seen.

A few of their communities qualify for the LEED for Homes Silver designation, one of them meets the American Lung Association Health House criteria, and they all exceed California Title 24 by at least 15%, some by as much as 50%. All their homes also meet Energy Star guidelines. Horton has even created a solar community called Provence, in which every home has a photovoltaic system.

The Sacramento Division is using touch-screen televisions to educate prospective buyers about what they should be looking for in the home-buying process.

Innovation is happening everywhere in the home building business. Regardless of where you are in the housing industry, and how the downturn is affecting you, this division of DR Horton is demonstrating a path to innovation. When the market returns to a better place, they'll be well positioned to capture tomorrow's more knowledgeable, more cautious and more demanding homeowners.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Better Way to Vent Siding

Moisture-related problems are appearing more and more frequently in both commercial and residential buildings. It is now being strongly recommended that all exterior claddings be vented off the building to create a better opportunity for drainage and drying to occur.

The usual technique is to install treated plywood battens (as shown above) to create an air space between the cladding and the sheathing. Because these battens are made of treated plywood, they must be installed with stainless fasteners, and they also require installers to handle a chemically-treated product.

Eldorado Battens has an innovative alternative with some significant benefits:

Manufactured from a high quality plastic, they are installed in the same way as wooden battens without the problems associated with the treated product.

The fluted design allows air to circulate behind the cladding both vertically and horizontally. This air movement helps sheathing and cladding dry more quickly.

Because the battens are made of plastic, they won't absorb moisture or rot. They also do not require special fasteners. Just use staples or galvanized nails.

Check out Eldorado Battens. They are addressing a critical construction detail with a lower cost, better performing product.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Artistic Homes Makes a Difference

Artistic Homes
, a high performance home builder in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has decided to take their homes to a new level. The State of New Mexico recently established a new set of tax incentives designed to encourage green building. To date, Artistic Homes is the only builder in the State that's been able to meet the new performance requirements. Doing so, allows them to offer their buyers a more affordable home -- under $250,000 -- as well as tax credits of up to $10,000.

On my last trip to Albuquerque, I spoke with Jerry and Tom Wade, owners of Artistic Homes, about this new opportunity. They were exited that in a tight market, this incentive could make the difference for consumers hoping to buy a new home. It is also motivating that at any price point, it is possible to build a home that is efficient, healthy, safe, durable and affordable to operate and maintain.

The final benefit is to Artistic Homes. These homes have fewer warranty calls and customer satisfaction is high. This will result in higher profits and more referrals. Just smart business. Visit Albuquerque and see what dedication and commitment to quality can do. These guys are doing it right.