Good to be Green
Local contractor helps homeowners create more environmentally sound living spaces
It seems only fitting that a man with the last name Green would go into the environmental field. Since 2008, Chicoan David Green has served as the CEO of Green Construction Service, a general contracting firm specializing in energy-efficient practices serving Northern California.
“GCS grew out of a handyman business, and as I got busier, I needed to become a licensed contractor. From there I started looking for ‘green’ products and ways to save clients money.” As of 2014, Green Construction Service is made up of nine employees. With myriad credentials recognizing green building strategies, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) and BPI (Building Performance Institute), Green has found his niche with an eco-conscious construction model.
“We take a whole building approach,” Vice President Shannon Iris said of the difference between GCS and other construction services. “First we do an assessment of the house to see where there is energy loss. Then, using energy modeling software, David determines the current building usage and recommendations for improvement.”
“It used to be that each specific trade would come in—heating guy does his thing, insulation guy does his thing. But by looking at the whole package, we can make sure everything in the house works together,” Green explained.
For GCS, the “whole package” of services includes air sealing, insulation, heating and air mechanical improvements, and installation of daylighting. From there, they attempt to find a balance between energy use and solar needs.
“When people call us because they want solar panels installed, it’s because they have a high energy bill and they’re trying to get rid of it. We backtrack and get to the source of why they have that high bill and steer them into energy efficiency first. So, instead of a 5kw system, they may only need a 3kw system in terms of a solar energy system.”
While roughly 95 percent of GCS’s time is dedicated to residential jobs (90 percent of which are in Chico), Green and company work with commercial businesses as well. And thanks to the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39), which can allocate up to $550 million annually to be dispersed for energy efficiency projects in schools, GCS has partnered with local schools as well.
“But the majority of our work is with residential projects,” Iris said. “And many of our clients are low- to middle-income people. Some people we work with don’t even have high energy bills but want to do the remodeling because it’s the right thing to do.”
For those who’ve invested hefty dollars on home improvements, Green and Iris say that PG&E’s Energy Upgrade California has been an invaluable program for helping clients with the cost of remodeling. “David was the first contractor in Butte County to partner with PG&E’s rebate program, and being able to get our clients rebates is huge,” Iris said of the statewide project, which offers rebates of up to $6,500 for those who make energy-saving improvements within the home. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” Green added.
So what are some improvements that will make your home more eco-friendly? Green recommends VELUX as the go-to brand for skylights and sun tunnels. “Lighting is often up to half the bill for our clients, so daylighting helps.” The solar-powered “Fresh Air” skylight offers a 30 percent federal tax credit to help offset the price, with a 10-year installation warranty. And Airscape whole house fans—another popular product for GCS clients—dramatically reduce the need for air conditioning.
But the most important advice Green offers for home improvements is to get familiar with the specific energy use of your house. “Make a plan for what you think you need done, and then get a consultation. People aren’t always aware of the inner workings of their system, so they don’t know what needs to be fixed. We had a client a few years ago who was going to hire a company to fix her duct system, so we took a look at it, and it turned out the inside of the ducts were filled with raw fiber glass—an old system from the ’70s—and it was blowing air and matter throughout the house.”
With situations like that, Green says improvements aren’t just necessary for saving money and energy, but for safety, too.
Looking ahead at 2015, Green has big plans for his business. “We’re launching iGreen, a DBA of our parent company, Green Construction Services. Basically, we’re rebranding ourselves. Our goal is to make iGreen the industry leader in a systems approach to home management.”
At the end of the day, the motivation to grow his business is simple: “I want to make a difference. Energy efficiency is about reducing our footprint on the planet. It’s about creating comfortable homes for people to live in. I love the letters we get from clients remarking about how different it feels to be living in their homes.”