Testimonials on the Program
The following are testiminials of those who have benefitted by the Sustainable Building Advisor Certificate Program.
Green Box 123 provides services including energy audits, sustainable building advice, and consulting generally targeted to lower your energy costs and minimize your environmental footprint at an optimal cost/benefit ratio.
Energy audits provide both qualitative and quantitative analysis of a building’s energy usage, producing a prioritized list of actions that may be taken to increase energy efficiency based on cost and estimated return on investment. These can include identifying highly wasteful aspects of the building (leaks, poor insulation, inefficient equipment, etc.) as well as suggestions to minimize the waste and to examine alternative energy sources when appropriate. In other words, stop the waste first, then think solar, geothermal, etc. The analysis is based on total cost - existing waste, cost of repairs and/or new equipment, and ongoing operational costs.
Sustainable building advice covers a broad swath of green topics as they relate to buildings - energy use, alternative energy options, water management (indoors and out), construction materials and practices, operations, and indoor environment quality. There are many ways that one can improve the health and efficiency of a building. Based on interviews with clients and interested parties (tenants, customers, etc.) and an understanding of the client’s goals, Green Box 123 can help navigate the myriad options and target those that best meet the client’s desires.
One advantage of utilizing the services of Green Box 123 is our lack of bias to a specific solution. We do not implement suggested improvements, rather we make referrals to qualified contractors who do. Typical companies in the energy field often have solutions they promote and install (solar panels, insulation, lighting fixtures, etc., etc.). It is natural that their recommendations would lean toward their products and services. Green Box 123 can help clients look at a wide range of possible solutions and pick the ones that meet their needs at a reasonable price.
John LaSala, owner of Green Box 123, is a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. He is also a certified professional by the Building Performance Institute, with certifications of Building Analyst and Envelope Specialist. More information about these certifications and the organizations that set the standards and grant certifications can be found at www.sbainstitute.org and www.bpi.org.
Jack Martin – Sustainable Building Advisor
I became a part of the Sustainable Building Advisor program as a result of what some folks might consider a stroke of bad luck. They say that in order to be successful, you need to create your own luck. I believe that statement has always been true for me, so when I lost my job due to the economic downturn in 2009; I started to investigate how I could turn this around. At the time I was working in the home building industry for a company which had been enjoying nationwide success until the housing bubble burst and left me; along with many others wondering how to apply my existing skills to a new career in this challenging environment. When I read the course description for the SBA program I knew that this was meant for me.
From the moment I entered the SBA program at Bucks County Community College I knew I was in the right place at the right time. Dave Hartke welcomed us and told us that although he would be facilitating our journey as SBA candidates, that each of us would be acting as co-instructors, based our prior experiences as well as research we would develop as a result of our class projects and assignments. Our class was filled with a unique group of professionals from many disciplines with various goals but all with a common interest and one big question, ”What is a Sustainable Building Advisor?”.
As a direct result of my certification as a Sustainable Building Advisor … I began to build a reputation for myself in the local sustainability community. At the end of 2010, BCCC was involved with the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Training effort and was working to establish their own Weatherization Training Center as part of a consortium in Southeastern Pennsylvania and they were looking for an instructor. My name was suggested as someone that might be right for the job. Thanks to some solid recommendations from people in the SBA program and my experience working in the field I was awarded the position of lead Instructor as well as Training Site Coordinator. This opportunity lead to my training to be a Pennsylvania State certified Weatherization instructor at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA, a nationally recognized leader in the training of weatherization workers and instructors. As a lead instructor, I was invited to participate in a number of Department of Energy sponsored “Train-the-Trainer” events and … I was invited to be a presenter at the National Weatherization Training Conference held in New Orleans, LA in December 2011. During the conference I spoke on a number of selected energy related topics for four days which was quite an honor for me. None of this would have been possible were it not for my involvement in the Sustainable Building Advisor program at Bucks.
I have started my own business in the sustainability field and all of my work comes from people that I have met through the program or through my work as an instructor. I actually received work from a prior graduate SBA as a result of my Team Project for the class and I still do work for him today. People think I’m kidding when I say that the Sustainable Building Advisor program changed my life, but I truly believe this, and I’m just thankful that I was fortunate enough to get it.
Thomas G Wells Construction.
My company principally remodels single family homes. In 2009, like the majority of remodeling firms, the gross income of our company fell drastically, following the economic trend in our USA as a whole. Our gross in 2009 fell around 66% from 2008, almost putting the company out of business. My conviction in the summer of 2009 that Sustainability, properly presented to our clients, would at least keep the company going has turned out to be true. In fact, sustainability allowed it to grow back to its pre-2007 gross income and profit numbers, while adding six full time employees to the payroll.
Naturally nothing has been immune to the effects of the economic catastrophe that has hobbled our country. Prior to the financial meltdown, homeowners were convinced that sustainable building products and techniques were more expensive than “normal” ones. This led us to believe that the only way to present sustainability was through Energy Efficiency and to focus not on the environmental and sustainable products aspects, but rather on the fact that energy efficient homes are more comfortable and save money.
We were able to leverage the $1500 Federal tax break in 2009 and 2010 by working with Early-Adapters (that part of the buying population who were willing to try new things) by offering Energy Audits and Energy Retrofits. There were enough Early Adapters in the marketplace to begin to grow the company during those two years. The Stimulus Package allowed Energy Works and Keystone Help to leverage 25 million dollars into a subsidized energy audit and .99% loan program. These two programs moved us beyond the early adapters as more families became convinced that energy savings purchased through the loan program made good economic sense. This allowed us to get back to our 2008 gross income numbers and brought our employee count to 7 (from 2 initially).
During the 2009 through 2011 time frame, our sustainable emphasis was presented to our clients in a number of ways. We raised our marketing budget to 5% of gross to accomplish this. We felt that by having a consistent message which presented sustainable remodeling as part of the many different ways we offer remodeling expertise and options to our clients that we could grow the business and provide lasting value to our clients.
Energy Efficiency continued to be a very important part of what our company offered clients. But by the end of 2010 we could see that our company would have to “see the future” and expand our emphasis in order to maintain growth and profitability.
We believe firmly in the Three E’s of sustainability – Economy, Environment, and (Social) Equity. (I am currently reading Holistic Management by Allan Savory, which describes the Three E’s in depth.) The Three E’s were introduced to me in the 2006 Sustainable Building Advisor program. That most important and fundament concept has profoundly affected the way I look at my work, run our company and explain our expertise to our clients. It also helped me appreciate the remodeling opportunities in Aging In Place.
For the last 18 months we have been working effectively in promoting Aging In Place remodeling. Aging In Place remodeling emphasizes adapting homes so that families with members who have or are likely to have physical diminishments can remain as independent as possible for as long as possible, in their homes. Aging in Place certainly has a strong Three E’s sustainable component: by adapting homes to our clients’ changing physical conditions we make use of the embodied energy in the homes (Environment), help to maintain the social fabric of the community since clients do not move away (Social Equity) and make homes more valuable at resale and create jobs for our employees and suppliers (Economy). We see a strong growth in Aging In Place remodeling, especially because we always offer energy efficiency upgrades as well.
Our company is on a steady growth path of about 10% per year. We are cautiously optimistic that we will meet our revenue projections for this year. If we do that we will have returned to our 2007 gross income numbers with acceptable profitability. This has been achieved through presenting Sustainable concepts and techniques in appropriate ways to our clients, in ways which emphasis the comfort, safety, independence and money saving aspects and deemphasizes the environmental benefits. In my view, going forward in to 2013 and beyond our remodeling clients will be more and more interested in the environmental benefits as well, given the Global “weird-ing” we are all now experiencing.
Thanks for asking me to share my thoughts with you. I feel intense gratitude to you for giving me the tools to make a difference in the world.
In 2004, Mark Bortman moved his family from Bucks County, Pennsylvania to Costa Rica for a year while he apprenticed with a pioneer in the solar industry and learned the business from the ground up. When he returned, he founded Exact Solar.
Since 2005, Exact Solar has specialized in designing and installing solar thermal and solar electric systems.
In 2010, after 5 years of working with both residential and commercial clients, Mark knew that solar energy was an integral part of sustainability. But he knew that it was only part. “People would come to Exact Solar because they wanted to save energy,” says Mark. “And they wanted to help the environment.” By offsetting a portion or all of their energy needs with clean, renewable energy, they were certainly taking a step in the right direction.
Mark came to realize that there must be other, valuable pieces of the solution to lessen their environmental footprint. “I’d install a solar energy system in a home and reduce their energy bill, but I knew there were be other things that could be done,” says Mark. “I just needed to understand the areas apart from solar energy where we could make the best impact.”
This is where the Sustainable Building Advisor (SBA) program comes in. Through a rigorous 9 month seminar- based educational program, the SBA classes address all major areas of sustainability – site selection and management, water issues, indoor environmental quality and building materials, as well as energy. Once Mark heard about the program, he knew it was the key he needed to unlock the potential of his customers.
Armed with the knowledge gleaned from the SBA classes, Mark is planning to expand the mission of Exact Solar. Instead of just solar energy, he envisions a company that will be a partner in sustainability for local homes and businesses.
“As I learned in the SBA course, there are many things that people can do to be more sustainable,” says Mark. “This will help them in the short term by improving their health and environment and it will in the long run by leaving a world that can be enjoyed by future generations.” Many of the steps to sustainability also help the bottom line, making it a win-win-win situation.