The great Lubinskis

Trustworthy? Eco-minded? Inexpensive? If yes, SN&R has found its HVAC soul mate.

A family affair: Travis (left) and Michael Lubinski.

A family affair: Travis (left) and Michael Lubinski.

Photo By Sena Christian

SN&R buys a building, wants to make it green and pays Sena: Eco-Warrior Princess to write a weekly column about it.

We’re in this together.

Aren’t we? What, you don’t think so? How should it be instead: you do your own thing and I do mine? I don’t know what your problem is, but OK, fine, if that’s how you want to be. Awfully selfish of you, though, if I do say so myself. And just to warn you, Michael Lubinski won’t be pleased.

He’s all about teamwork, running his company based on the philosophy of working together for the common good. Lubinski started his HVAC-contractor company (that’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning), Ski Air, in Placerville 31 years ago and has spent the last three decades cultivating a collaborative approach among employees, which has meant low turnover, dedicated workers and quality craftsmanship.

“All our guys I could go out to dinner with and feel good about it and have fun with their families,” said his son Travis Lubinski, vice president for Ski Air. Unlike some jobs, where you feel a little, uh, resentful of the obligatory social hangouts with co-workers.

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but what do the dining habits of Ski Air employees have to do with SN&R’s eco-friendly renovation of a building on Del Paso Boulevard? OK, I’m about to break this down for you. Pay close attention.

Our new office building will incorporate energy efficiency, water conservation and a whole bunch of other great green stuff that I’m too lazy to delve into here. But we’re also seeking something deeper and more meaningful throughout this whole process: We want to patronize companies whose business practices and environmental philosophies align with our own, which is why we value Ski Air’s teamwork vibe.

Ski Air may serve as the mechanical subcontractor for our project, charged with installing the HVAC system, a big-ticket cost item and one that is integral to our building’s ability to live up to its green potential. When making our final selection, SN&R will pose a series of tough questions: Is this company trustworthy? Hardworking? Ecologically aware? Inexpensive? If yes, we’ve found our soul mate.

Oh, and get this: Ski Air hires people who want to do this mechanical trade for life, which is especially important for green buildings, because sustainable designs typically require more knowledge and conscientiousness than conventional building practices.

“With this transition to LEED you need certain levels of professionalism, training and expertise,” Travis explained.

Ski Air came to us with impressive credentials under its belt—the company worked on the LEED-certified Mahany Library and Utility Exploration Center in Roseville, Fat’s Asia Bistro & Dim Sum Bar in Roseville and Folsom, Marshall Medical hospital in Placerville and several area schools.

The father and son team recently stopped by SN&R’s office to explain energy-efficient air conditioning for our feeble minds. Let’s test my comprehension and retention! The Lubinskis said something (I was kind of zoning out) about how a building owner should start with the Title 24 California building-standards code (legally, buildings must meet these standards), then calculate the targeted efficiency level the owner hopes to achieve and figure out how to get there. SN&R hopes to hit at least 10 percent above Title 24 through insulation, energy-efficient lighting, a cool roof, a tankless water heater and properly sized heating and cooling equipment.

Next, they told us tons of extremely important stuff about the eco-friendly measures used by Ski Air. But I only wrote down half of it. I remember that the company doesn’t use chlorofluorocarbons as a refrigerant in its air-conditioning units.

“These wipe out the ozone,” Michael said, adding that the Clean Air Act requires the phase out of R-22, a type of CFC used in cooling units, by 2020. His company also manufactures its own ductwork, which helps prevent system leakage because each piece is custom-made to suit that particular job; no leakage means a better building shell, which means less energy loss. Ski Air also uses HVAC equipment produced by leading manufacturers who are pushing the envelope of green innovation.

“It’s amazing, the changes and how reliable the systems are compared to 15 years ago,” Michael said. “It’s just going to get more and more efficient. This is an exciting time.”