EEBA's High Performance Home Blog

Posts From January, 2020

Building Faster and More Resilient After Wildfires

While bushfires in Australia continue to burn an area larger than Denmark, wildfires are not far from our minds here in the U.S.
Building Faster and More Resilient After Wildfires

The Insurance Information Institute reports that between 2017 and 2019 there were over 176,000 wildfires across the U.S. - mostly in California. In the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Napa and Sonoma counties over 5,800 structures were destroyed. In 2018 almost 19,000 structures were consumed in a 4 hour period in Paradise, California. And just last year, the Kincade Fire in Northern California destroyed 374 buildings - 174 of those were residential structures.

According to Forest Service data, wildfires in the U.S. are now lasting 78 days longer than they did in the 70’s and are also burning twice as much area. Currently, 42 U.S. states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Island, and the District of Columbia, use or have adopted the International Fire Code (or an edition of the specific code), although almost a dozen of these do not use the particular code as a standard for all buildings.

Many who lost their homes in these wildfires are finding it difficult to rebuild. While some homeowners were underinsured to begin with, the increased costs for labor, as well as the cost of building a new home from the ground up, have blocked rebuilding efforts.

Either by downsizing and adding an Accessory Dwelling Unit for future rental income, or shifting to alternative building methods, those who are able to rebuild are looking at ways to increase value to their homes.

Off-site modular construction companies like Dvele can add value because of the speed. Dvele claims they can get a homeowner into their new home in 6-7 months after finalizing your design plan and budget. At one point Dvele was even offering a discount to fire victims (although I don’t see where it is advertised on their website).

Plant Prefab, a sustainable modular home builder, offers fire victims a “free initial site assessments...50% off feasibility service, $5,000 in FREE upgrades and 5% off design/admin fees for LivingHomes.”

What are your opinions on rebuilding in high-risk wildfire zones, building materials that should be required, and mitigation measures that should be implemented? We’d love to hear your opinions!

Hey Google, Show Me What’s Possible this Decade

We’re predicting the next 10 years will produce some of the most exciting changes in the building industry - and we get to be part of it.
Hey Google, Show Me What’s Possible this Decade

Saturday morning you wake up and realize you’re out of coffee and your fridge is empty. You’re hungry. You need coffee. But you really don’t want to get dressed and go to the coffee shop. So you grab your iPad and you order some food from the breakfast joint down the road and a giant coffee from your favorite coffee shop - scheduled to be delivered directly to your doorstep by Uber Eats.

You then say, “Hey Google”, and proceed to state various commands to set your NEST thermostat to 72 degrees, set the lights in the living room to your “Relax” mode, and turn on the television so you can watch SpaceX launch reusable rockets. Then your Ring doorbell alerts you that someone is at your door - it’s your coffee and breakfast.

This scenario is complete bliss to some, and a living nightmare to others. Most notably, however, is that this was an impossible chain of events just 10 years ago - because none of these technologies existed.

This new decade marks limitless possibilities for the advancement of technology and for some of the most exponential change ever seen in the building industry. If there was ever a time to push an idea and try something new, it’s now.

Solar technologies and renewables will continue to push energy efficiency forward. Net zero energy homes will become mainstream - from affordable housing to luxury custom homes to apartment buildings - across the board, we’ll consistently build shelter that occupants can actually afford to live in, have healthy IAQ, and are built using sustainable materials. It’s an exciting time to be working in our industry.

What building product or technology are you most excited to see evolve in the next decade? What predictions will you make for the building industry in the next decade? Imagine what we can accomplish together in the next 10 years!

New Year, New CEO

Welcome, Aaron Smith, EEBA's new Chief Executive Officer
New Year, New CEO

We are excited to announce that effective today, January 8th, Aaron Smith will be joining EEBA as CEO.

Aaron comes to us with over 20 years experience in construction, building products, sustainability and non-profit board leadership. He has worked for companies including Kohler, Uponor, ASSA ABLOY and Williams as well as startups in Silicon Valley and his own building and remodeling company.

Aaron previously served on non-profit Boards for Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, was Board Treasurer of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative (HPDC); co-founded the CT Collaborative – Living Building Challenge; was a member of the International Living Future Institute – East Coast Congress and served on the Board of the CT Sustainable Business Council (CTSBC).

Aaron completed his undergraduate studies at West Point and St. Cloud State University and is a 2016 graduate of the Yale University MBA program with a focus in Sustainability. He loves hockey, hiking, skiing, gardening and spending time with his wife, Jennifer and 3 boys at their home in Minneapolis.

Please join us in welcoming Aaron to the EEBA team!

Aaron can be reached at aaron@eeba.org and on his cell phone at 612-325-5719 and will be at the IBS show coming up in Las Vegas.