This green contractor takes a stand

Dennisallen018smallHere’s the problem with green building: There is no firm agreement among all of us on what is green enough. Various green rating systems exist, and individual opinions abound. So what do you do? Wait until there is a consensus? Fiddle while Rome burns?

In Santa Barbara, Allen Associates, led by contractor and visionary Dennis Allen (who, by the way, has a master’s degree in international finance from Princeton University), has decided on a set of minimum green standards that every project must meet to achieve company-wide goals of energy-efficient, durable, healthy and comfortable homes. These are not suggestions for the supervisor or homeowner to consider. This is the way it will be. And when a company does more than $20 million in projects each year, as this one does, that represents quite a few homes.

Of course, such a list will change as new products become available. Many of these standards make a building much more durable and resistant to water intrusion and mold. You would expect these standards to be part of the building code, but they are not. The building code is the lowest standard a building needs to reach to get permitted. It’s kinda like getting a C-minus in math. You passed the course, but just barely. This company wants to do more than just pass. So here is the stand this contractor is taking:

Minimum Green Items for Every Project

• Waste management plan. Presented to Green Resources Manager before project begins.

• Zero or low VOC products: paints, finishes, mastics, adhesives, glues, etc. Exceptions to this must be approved by management.

• Radiant barriers using Tyvek thermal wrap, foil-faced roof sheeting, or Hy-Tech paint.

• Complete and fully sealed under slab and footing membrane. Stego is an approved option.

• Drainage plane behind all finish siding choices. (Not applicable when patching into an existing wall). Must be furred out air space for any wood or composite siding products.

• Proper flashing: A. FlexWrap @ windows with sloped sill. B. Flexible flashing or metal pan @ door pans. C. Flashing at bottom of drainage plane and opening at top for air inflow. D. Proper flashing of all roof and wall penetrations. E. General building flashing.

• Ducting to be metal with mechanical fasteners and approved mastics/tapes at all connections. All duct boots/openings covered tightly during construction.