Conference targets green construction
The message of an upcoming Greening Midwest Communities conference is that with energy efficient “green” construction, everyone wins. The construction process can become more efficient with savings for both the contractor and the client. The building industry gets a needed boost and homeowners’ energy bills will be reduced. The rest of us benefit from a revitalized economy and a decrease in net energy consumption. Scheduled for Oct. 19 – 20 in Jefferson City, the event is cosponsored by the University of Missouri’s Center for Sustainable Energy (MUCSE) and Missouri’s Homebuilders Associations (HBA).
“There isn’t a lot of construction going on,” said Robert Reed, co-director of MUCSE. “We’re trying to increase and improve construction, and at the same time advance the concept of energy efficiency.”
Reed, an associate research professor in civil and environmental engineering, also leads MU’s Stormwater and Erosion Control Research Center. “Energy efficient construction and storm water management go together,” said Reed, in reference to the conference’s focus on both process and product. “Storm water is a major component in the areas of energy efficiency and environmental controls.”
“Ways of doing things in the industry have changed,” said conference co-director Matt Belcher, of Belcher Homes in Wildwood, Mo. “Advancements in ‘green’ building codes and technologies have advanced at a brisk pace. And there are increased efficiencies in building processes. The conference will be very educational.”
Basic green building employs concepts of construction that are complimentary to the topography of a site: existing trees and the orientation of the sun. Reed believes a return to these simple considerations, in conjunction with new technologies, can make a big difference in the costs of building and maintaining a home.
Reed said he was fascinated by advancements in methods and materials he saw at this year’s national green builders conference. “Putting a building up using efficient subset products, a systems approach, is so efficient that you can compare it to an old-fashioned barn raising,” he said.
A tradeshow exhibition that features new building technologies will be included in the conference.
Belcher, who has been active in the National and the St. Louis HBAs adds that 97 percent of homes in the United States were built more than a generation ago and that there is also great interest, starting with the federal government, for energy efficient retrofit of older homes.
A version of the 2010 Home Star Energy Retrofit Act, which would provide consumer rebates for homeowners to do energy efficient remodeling to their homes, has passed the House and is in committee in the Senate. It has been predicted that if funded, up to three million families will benefit, over 150,000 new jobs will be created and consumers will experience over $9 billion in savings on their energy bills over a 10-year period.
Conference speakers include MU researchers and Extension and Campus Facilities personnel, national and state HBA spokespersons, the Missouri Departments of Natural Resources and Conservation, building industry representatives and Jim Gann of MU’s Small Business and Technology Development Center. Business development counselors from SBTDC also will be at the conference to acquaint and advise small business owners and managers on the assistance they can receive from that program.
“We’re hoping this conference will show how all of these things fit together economically and efficiently,” Reed said.
“Things get done when the government and industry work with each other,” Belcher said. “We’re just trying to get everyone on the same page.”
Complete information about the conference is located at http://muconf.missouri.edu/gmcc/index.html.
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