Building blocks

A local organization says smart building is green building

Greg Jones, SiBGA’s executive director, talks in Ralston Park about green building. He says parks are one example of sustainable, green planning, but that there are many more.

Greg Jones, SiBGA’s executive director, talks in Ralston Park about green building. He says parks are one example of sustainable, green planning, but that there are many more.

Photo By David Robert

For more information about Sierra Green Building Association, contact (877) 744-2248,,

Every construction or landscape project has an environmental impact, whether it’s the energy used to make it functional or the resources used to build it. A local network is helping people lessen that impact.

Sierra Green Building Association has been promoting green-building practices and sustainable techniques since 2002. The association is a group of contractors, architects and designers who educate the public about the benefits of building greener communities.

“We have to promote change because our region is such a special place with limited resources,” says SiGBA’s executive director Greg Jones at Ralston Park. “Smart is interchangeable with green.”

Green building aims to reduce impacts on the environment by using renewable materials, energy efficiency and sustainable practices in a building’s design, construction and maintenance. The result is a structure that conserves water, energy, material and respects its environment. Examples of this include solar panels, water-efficient appliances and designing a home to maximize natural light.

Even for people willing to fork over the (usually extra) cash for the long-term economic and environmental benefits of green building, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s where SiGBA comes in.

Its Web site, workshops, projects and resource guides educate about sustainability, energy efficiency, water conservation and air quality. The group also offers a list of local architects, designers and consultants who work from green-building principles, as well as green-building materials suppliers, products and even realtors who specialize in properties built with green-building practices.

Education ties in with networking and green business promotion. SiGBA seeks an economically viable, environmentally sustainable outlook toward social growth. Jones views this as a win-win scenario for everybody.

“All boats rise with the tide,” says Jones.

SiGBA is working on a pilot program with Tahoe Truckee Sanitation District for a clean wood waste-recycling program. This program works with the contractors’ association, local construction companies and the town of Truckee. SiGBA hopes that success with this project will encourage other communities to recycle wood waste, rather than continuing to throw away the reusable resource.

Another SiGBA program, set to launch next summer, is an internship program for high school and college students. It offers students a chance to work part-time learning the construction trade, especially in green building.

Two local speaking events are on the calendar this month. A talk on fire-resistant building on Aug. 16, at the Village at Squaw in the Alpenglow Room aims to benefit residents as fire danger increases. On Aug. 21 at the Patagonia Outlet, 8550 White Fir St., the talk highlights structurally insulated panels at 6 p.m. This “Live Green Build Green” speaker series is aimed at educating people about becoming a sustainable community, with new green topics discussed each month.

“Everybody can do something, and one decision makes a huge difference,” says Jones. “It all adds up to a better community and a better way of life.”

A $45 membership includes discounts to SiGBA activities, an annual copy of Green Building Resource Guide and opportunities to network with green-building pros.