Editorial Note: Mark is the newest member of our team here at Postgreen. He earned the name “Matador” with some early dart prowess, particularly when shooting bulls. This prowess has waned in recent weeks but we await it’s return. Now, I’ll let him fill you in on the rest.
Hi Postgreen community, I am a recent addition to the Postgreen team in the capacity of pseudo-intern/head rehabber of awesomeness. This post is meant to serve as a quick introduction before I get into entertaining/boring you with geeky posts describing the rehab project that I am starting.
I arrived at this position by a pretty circuitous path which could be helpful to explain. I have a degree in engineering but my focus has always been on investing money, and I got an advanced degree and spent five years doing this in Manhattan. That all changed after I became a victim of the recent financial upheavals and in my new found spare time I was exposed to a few books on sustainability and philosophy, namely Natural Capitalism, Cradle to Cradle and Plato’s Republic. These “sustainability books” (for lack of a better term) made me aware that though we are currently consuming things faster than this planet can replace them, the technology is available to dramatically reduce our level of consumption while still enjoying all (or most) of the modern conveniences that we have come to know and love and without bankrupting our current economic system. With this in mind I decided to switch careers to implement some of these ideas in practice. After researching a few options I settled on the idea of improving buildings because they are a product that we can’t do without but they represent a very large chunk of our collective consumption. In addition, I was intrigued when I learned that we have the technology to reduce the core energy and water requirements of buildings to a fraction of their former levels, in both existing buildings and new construction, however, no one has figured out how to do this in a profitable manner on a large scale yet in the US.
I made my first foray into the space by founding a company with a friend to retrofit commercial buildings, but soon realized that I had made a terrible choice in choosing my business partner. Just when I was in the process of giving up on that venture I met the PostGreen folks at the Passive House conference. I got excited about working with them because they are obviously fun people to be around, but also believed that their niche of building affordable and well-designed eco-shelters, coupled with running an online community where like-minded builders could swap information was just the mixture of a sound business plan with a potentially large impact that I was looking for. It took a bit of pestering to convince them but they finally came to their senses and let me join them this past January.
Now that I am here I hope to add to this community in a few ways, starting with some research on other residential development projects such as Village Homes and The Woodlands that I visited on my cross country trip out to Philly. I also hope to create some excel spreadsheets people can use to quickly estimate the value of such things as solar PV, sun-shades and insulation on their specific project and I would like to become involved in the ongoing effort to convert those who still don’t see the value in green building.
Last but definitely not least, I will be heading up a new venture for PostGreen that is focused on rehabbing existing buildings. My first shell is a beautiful 3-floor, 14’ wide, brick, Philly row home circa 1920’s that is just down the street from the 100k house. Our initial goal was a 50% reduction in the core energy and water requirements relative to the average Philadelphia-area home on a roughly $100k hard construction budget, but our architects (who we will be talking more about soon) upped the ante last week when they said their goal will be to make it more energy efficient than the 100k house . . . aggressive but achievable. As usual, we will be detailing all of the trials and tribulations of the building process here for all to see. If you have any words of wisdom (or warnings) about the idea of turning derelict brick shells into PostGreen-amazingness, I’d love to hear your views in the comment section below.
If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.
There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.