Friday, June 13, 2008

Jim Sargent's Green Story

I got off on the right start in the ‘70’s building energy efficient homes when the US went through the oil embargo. But in the early ‘80s I went to the dark side for a bit, building the pretty parts and ignoring the fact that they were gas guzzlers. It was in 1985 when my first son went off to college that it really hit me: I need to build ALL my homes to support the kind of world I want for my children and grandchildren.

It's all in the details
That year we decided the only way to really understand home energy performance was to monitor their energy consumption. We tracked the monthly utility bills for every home we built from 1985 to 2000. Along the way, I learned as much as I could from as many sources as I could about energy and resource efficiency, all this long before the terms healthy or green building popped up. And I learned that the buzz words don’t mean that much, especially if they are not backed up by attention to detail. I can build a home of sticks, or SIPs, or ICFs and all three homes will perform about the same, so long as we are all paying attention to details during construction. Picking the strategies, systems, and technologies is the easy part; putting them all together on site in the right way is the hard part.

To me, green building is about “passing it on.”
I have spent a lot of time teaching both builders and high school students how to build well, sharing with anyone who will listen what I have learned about energy and resource efficiency over the years. I worked hard on the adoption of the International Residential Code (IRC) in Texas, when most said it could not be done. It won’t work if just some of us change the way we build; it is going to take all of us working together on this one.

--Jim Sargent is a green custom builder in Dallas, Texas

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