Common Priorities, Common Lessons

Ever feel like you just witnessed the start of something magical?

I got that sensation earlier this week when I attended an innovation summit organized as part of Illinois’ very first Better Buildings, Better Business (B4) conference.  Organized by the Energy Center of Wisconsin, B4 conferences target individuals involved in residential new construction and retrofit industry; attendees have opportunities to learn about emerging technologies, building science, sales strategies and the opportunities to partner with utility efficiency programs.  The Energy Center’s led an annual B4 in Wisconsin for ten years now and they have nurtured the event into a community of practice where the thought leaders in building efficiency gather to share and strategize annually.  Every time I attend Wisconsin’s B4 I leave energized about the exciting work that folks are doing and hopeful that we are on track to deliver safe, comfortable, durable and energy efficient homes for everyone.

Because I’m a fan of the Wisconsin event I attended part of the event in Illinois.  It seemed like a good opportunity to learn more about the emerging efforts in that state.  To be honest, though, I knew that this was the first Illinois event and thus I did not expect to feel the same vibe that I associate with Wisconsin’s well-established effort.

After talking with just one Illinois remodeler I realized that I should not make assumptions.

I spoke to a couple who own a business remodeling homes damaged by fire and other such calamities.  They were new to the efficiency arena and talked about how they had hoped to incorporate energy efficiency into their projects going forward.  They also talked about their motivations—that they wanted to do right by their customers (long term value, improved indoor air quality, lower utility bills) and that they wanted to build a successful firm and, a little self-consciously, one of them added that they also wanted to do right by the planet.

That was when I recognized this remodeler as a kindred spirit of the builders and remodelers I knew in Wisconsin.  While this guy was new to building science, his reason for learning new skills echoed the folks in Wisconsin who attend B4 year after year.  He wanted to deliver value to his customers, he wanted to make a reasonable profit and he wanted to preserve local resources.  The good news is sound building science delivers all three-quality for customers, fewer callbacks for remodelers and resource savings for all of us.

Driving back, I had realized that this rationale is an echo of what we hear from participants in our programs—that they want to save money and that they care about preserving local resources for their children and grandchildren—and that it is also an echo of the “people, profit, planet” mantra often referred to as the triple bottom line.

The echoes reinforce that these are values we can share.  And making environmentally sustainable choices is the way to live those values.

Building scientists will tell you that details matter–that it is all the little things associated with a home that affect overall performance.   Little things matter and they add up…sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

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