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Jeff Jungsten, President of Caletti Jungsten Construction, tells us how to choose a green contractor

By: Jenelle Feole, Green Halo Systems

(MILL VALLEY, CA) – Jeff JungstenJeff Jungsten shared decades of green building industry experience earlier this week from his office in Mill Valley, CA. An avid biker and green builder, it’s obvious that Jeff cares about nature and his clients. Jeff is a game changer, a perfectionist when it comes to building people’s homes and he is deeply in tune to our planet’s needs and sustainability. He was on the Technical Advisory Committee which met weekly for over a year to devise a new green building ordinance for Marin County so that green building could be more simple and accessible to everybody.

Jeff is a Build it Green Certified Green Building Professional (CGBP) and he also holds the Green Home Retrofitting and Remodeling Advanced Certified Green Building Professional certification (GHRR Advanced CGBP) – it’s a rarity. In 1995 Jeff joined John Caletti’s general construction company and complemented the already high–end quality work with a bend towards sustainability. We discussed the bleeding-edge green building technologies that are developed on the West Coast and later used worldwide, what drives green building in other areas of the globe and much more:

1 What is the story behind Caletti Jungsten? Our story really was that, and has been, that we started as a small group doing really high definition work. Started in 1987 by John Caletti here in Marin, taking on some really nice general construction work. John and I met in the mid-90’s on a small project and then took on a really big project together, honed our skills together and figured out what we really wanted to do. We’ve taken that energy and expertise that we both carry and put it into really good people and culture, and we setup a good momentum for our community. So we are really into where we work, why we work, and who we work with.

2 What does it take to be a green contractor? It takes a lot of energy, focus, drive, and understanding that there is a better way to do what we do. It takes a proactive approach, knowledge and energy around why you’re doing certain things.

3 How should one go about choosing a green builder? The best way to choose a green builder is to talk to as many people as you can who have investigated green building. There are township blogs, there are other groups like the Marin builders association. Most municipalities have a builders group of some sort. The people that are doing these things are known by great non-profits like build It Green or the USGBC. [Laughs] Google is a great way to find green builders in your area. They might be listed on the Build It Green or USGBC website of certified professionals. It’s usually just word of mouth but one of the things that we try to do is to get ourselves listed on as many boards as possible to just get the word out.

4 So people will research, or they will find out about you from word of mouth, and am I understanding you correctly that the credentials are really important? Would you say that being a GCBP is a must? It’s a must. The people that take the time to learn and study and take the energy to get themselves certified are the people that are at least trying to understand and stay current of sustainability. And, I would say that if you hire a company that has zero credentials as either a business or individuals and expect them to know more than the people who are studying it, it would be an odd choice. If you are going to hire a company that claims to be a green builder, they will have had to have had projects in that realm that are either published or known or researchable that you can look at and say: were they successful in what they sought out to do? Was is certifiable at a certain level with a certain group? What type of work have they done and where? Who have they worked with?

5 I see, so if they are not certified, one should look at work examples, but sometimes work examples are not impressive enough so take just the work examples with a grain of salt? It depends: one of our intentions was to set a relatively rigorous standard in Marin for a green building ordinance so that people would have to build better than a C- building as a norm. So even if you weren’t certified, you would have to build in a certain way that achieved a certain level of efficiency. The people who can achieve those levels of efficiency in every single building that they build and can prove it, that’s the type of thing to do your research for. To say: “What type of buildings have you built, and how have you proven them to meet the goals that you set up early on in the project?” Everybody can buy low VOC paint, find or buy recycled or reclaimed materials, and claim that they are green builders. But the people that know how to combine them in multiple ways for low cost, and who are out teaching other people or who are being involved in your community, are the people that are usually taking the biggest stride.

In 2010, the Marin Builder’s Association gave me the Leadership and Sustainability Award for being a pioneer in the community which was really cool. Similarly, a LEED Certified home, can’t be built without LEED a Certified team member, so there are certain projects which you cannot do without being certified.

6 Are you certified for LEED? I am not personally…for me I am kind of outside of that loop, and up higher in the policy programming, and the ordinance portion. The people that are actually manufacturing the product that we build are LEED Certified, Project Managers would be LEED Certified.

7 So it’s possible for people to build a LEED property through your company? Yes, absolutely. We did a LEED Gold residence here in Marin two years ago…it was in Camp Woodlands.

8 When it comes to green building, do you think that there’s an area that people are too focused on and they miss considering something else that is important? Most people say: “I want my home to be more energy efficient”. And I think that the indoor air quality part is the part that they might be missing the most. Probably the most toxic place to be is in a new home. It’s like a new car. You can have a really efficient home, seal it up really tight, and then it just develops a really bad problem where you don’t cycle the air enough. So I think that probably the one thing that people miss the most is how to make it healthy.

9 Is it more expensive to build green?

It can be upfront. It can cost more if you’re not going to be in your home for a long time. Low VOC paints and finishes and those things aren’t more expensive, but the other products, like a radiant heating system are more expensive than a forced air system. However a radiant heating system is more far more efficient and way healthier than blowing a bunch of air and dust around the house. So there’s where you have to start making your choices about what type of healthy environment and efficiency you want. Our goal is to get as many people doing these things as possible which makes them more cost effective for a normal consumer.

10 How do you calculate the payback period for green building? The client will inherently have to make choices about upfront costs vs. lifecycle and costs. Part of what any good general contractor will do is help guide a client through those value oriented decisions. Some things just don’t make sense for some clients, and it’s responsible to say: “it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on this, it will never pay off for you”. If a certain budgetary condition is installed in the relationship and things can’t be achieved, then our job is to maximize their budget in as many value-oriented places as possible. And we do that, so we have a deep preconstruction activity upfront before the job that integrates as many sustainable features as possible, using the budget as widely as possible. And not only do we do that, but we have consultants that we bring in that work with the clients directly and work with us directly…these people are experts in facilitating the conversation before it even makes it to us, so these people are incredibly valuable.

11 The architecture firm plays a big role in this too, so where does the construction company come into play and how do you add value? Some architecture firms are getting it and they are understanding that sustainability is not an overlay, it’s a design principle. We come in hopefully as early as possible and I think any general contractor that studies this deeply wants to incorporate these systems at the earliest stages of design. Even as early as the sighting of the building to help integrate these systems into the plan if possible. That’s what the good architects are doing, they are bringing in people like us…

12 So a lot of the awesome homes on your website, you’re working with architects in the early stages of development? Absolutely. Way upfront. As early as the design phase.

13 How do you collaborate with architects and the client? Once we get through the design phase, we define everybody’s role and once the project is running, everybody plays a role in that. We all just collaborate as deeply as possible, as openly as possible, with as much humility as possible. We have a project right now where we are working incredibly closely with the architect, the client, the designer, and the engineers. It’s one of the most amazing homes that we’ve ever seen and it’s really all about being as collaborative and open as possible. Everything’s open for discussion. In the sustainability world, it’s kind of mandatory. There used to be a very closed loop between 2 parties and then a 3rd party would come in- the builder, and it would be a sort of odd scenario. Our goal is to just open up that whole relationship and be as collaborative and proactive as possible with everybody and have everyone do the same. If we’re talking about money, we have to talk about money openly. If we are talking about schedules, we have to talk about schedules openly. If we are talking about systems, we have to talk about systems openly. So that’s what happening in our world, a deeper level of relationship, more client–centric and certainly more proactive for time and money.

14 What inspires you? Everything!!!! Everything! I think if I really break it down into the smallest common denominator, it’s creating beautifully healthy homes for families, structures that- people get to grow up in, get married in, and have kids in. When somebody trusts us to build their home, that’s what we focus on. You know, perfect is close enough for us. We don’t want to just take the lowest common denominator and do that, it’s easy. What inspires us is to learn our craft a little bit deeper than most and then provide that value to people and see it happen. We just love the idea of building an inspired home with more energy and care. I honestly feel that it’s noticeable…and if we do our jobs right, and we care enough, then it’s obviated.

15 I looked at your Green Halo Systems account, I see that you’ve diverted over 255 tons from the landfill, which is a carbon footprint equivalent of 26,000 gallons of gasoline. What types of insights come to your mind when you see these statistics and numbers? One of the things about Green Halo that I really enjoy is that it’s similar to this program called “Cool the Earth”, which we work with here locally. It’s a great grass roots program that’s spreading nationally. Their idea is to train kids to focus on things that they can change…show them that when they turn the lights off and then they see the energy bill at the end of the month, then they will start to see that the small things they do actually have a result. And that’s what I like about Green Halo is that we have the ability to account for the material, see the results of what we are doing, and then change our behavior and modify how we work to then enhance that savings even higher. When I saw what we have diverted since using Green Halo, I turned it into a personal conversation about how: in my smart car, that’s 3,750 fill ups or the equivalent of about a million miles driven. I’ve taken an entire life time of driving off of the planet’s carbon footprint just in this short amount of time that we’ve been using Green Halo! And if we can measure it, we can change it, and that’s what Green Halo allows us to do. They’ve done a really good job making it useful, efficient, scalable, and the best tool for the job. Individual companies like myself can use it, municipalities can use it to collect information from people like me and then they put their stats out as a county. So we use the system as much as possible, and we review it monthly, and everybody always enjoys seeing what’s happened to the material or how much we are diverting or how we can do it differently.

 

Check out http://www.calettijungsten.com/

 

Another great Green article from Green Halo
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If you’re ever been on a living roof, chances are that you haven’t forgotten the feeling. Clean air, nice humidity and coolness not to mention the beauty of being surrounded by plants instead of standing on hot black tar or shingles. The benefits of living roofs are illustrated in this example. Living roofs or green roofs

  • Provide storm water management that retains 65-100% of rainwater
  • Improve air quality by absorbing pollutants
  • Reduce the urban heat island effects by cooling roofs
  • Add an aesthetic quality and increase the quality of life for people who live and work around them
  • They reduce energy costs by keeping the heat down during hot climates
  • They increase the life of roof membranes since many UV rays are blocked and in freezing temperatures the longevity of the roof is also increased since they are less exposed
  • They increase the green space in urban environments which is increasingly important during this time of concern about the urban heat island effect

LEED is one of the most common ways for people to keep track of how efficient their buildings are in terms of energy, water and carbon. Additionally Green Halo Systems is used to track waste, salvaging and recycling for construction projects and for properties. Green Halo Systems can keep track of LEED points and additional benefits of using this free software is that people who want to know the inner workings of their home to make it more green will benefit from an array of features by using Green Halo Systems.

Bousselot-green-roof green roof halo waste tracking system green wall tracking system awesome ecofriendly building green wall tracking system green-roof

 

Another great Green article from Green Halo
Track your recycling at www.greenhalosystems.com
Follow Green Halo on Twitter at http://twitter.com/greenhalousa

Green building is expected to grow 10% in upcoming years and many in the industry consider sustainable building to be the “right way to build” now a days. At a time when people are still building, consuming, and spending the majority of their time indoors it is critical that we build more sustainable buildings. Calrecycle.ca.gov explains that green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as “protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment”. If you’ve ever been in a green building before, high achieving green buildings are stunning. The air quality inside certainly feels better than most buildings, the overall impact to the environment is also great because of the landscaping that is chosen and you would notice different materials that are likely made from recycling.

This article is preparation for a very special “How to Choose a Green Contractor” interview/article that is coming soon. What’s important to know ahead of time, is what a green building looks like because it is a fairly new idea. Some of the benefits are lower operating costs over the life of the building, improved productivity, reduced environmental impact, and increase in health and in comfort.

Some green buildings look like the modern marvels they are but they can also be designed to be more lavish like other fabulous homes of the past. Now, let’s look at some inspiring homes, and please read next week for the special piece that’s coming up!

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Another great Green article from Green Halo
Track your recycling at www.greenhalosystems.com
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After writing about the EPA’s new proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% from 2005 levels by 2030, and China’s battle against smog, we want to present a new “Smog-Sucking Electrostatic Vacuum Cleaner” idea that cleanses polluted air:

Copper coils buried in the ground create a positively charged electrostatic field. All particles of ten nanometres or more — including smog — become positively charged, and thus attracted to the grounded earth, where they are collected. “It’s a loop of fresh air,”

The method of ionizing smog particles came from Delft University of Technology researcher Bob Ursem who noticed that tiny particles of organic debris would move from the Atlantic Ocean onto the beach. The particles would fly over the dunes, towards the bushes and then over the bushes. Ursem explained that the particles had a negative charge because of friction and they floated above the negatively charged bushes, “…indicating that the electrical force is greater than the gravity force”. Ursem began studying the negatively charged particles by replicating this phenomenon in his lab and he eventually was able to reverse the charge on the particles using an electrostatic field. Under lab conditions, Ursem created an “ionic wind” as the force of positively charged particles attached themselves to the ground. This sweeping discovery is fascinating also because of Roosegaarde’s awesome plans and creativity. Roosegaarde is trying to build such devices to place on the sides of buildings in Beijing to reduce smog in the city. The latest project specs indicate that the pockets of cleansed air will be in parks so that people can enjoy a 30,000 meters cubed area of fresh air. Another testament to Roosegaarde’s creativity is that he would like the particles in smog that get collected by the air-purifying devices to be turned into “diamond” rings representing the smog that is collected in this process.

Roosegaarde’s smog air bubble airea

 

(Source: http://www.studioroosegaarde.net/project/the-smog-project/stories/#794 and http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2014/04/start/beijings-cloud-server)

Another great Green article from Green Halo
Track your recycling at www.greenhalosystems.com
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Adobe Systems Inc. which is a digital marketing and digital media company headquartered in San Jose, Ca is very proactive when it comes to sustainability and energy conservation. The company has recognized that their industry is increasingly energy intensive and so they aim to reduce energy consumption and to stabilize their costs. Their ultimate goal is for their buildings to “produce or offset as much energy as they consume, resulting in Net Zero energy usage”. So far, the company has been tracking Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions (for purchased energy of the leased sites and for employee business travel since these two areas are part of their value chain). Reducing energy demand has been an area of observance for Adobe since before 2002. The company has impressive statistics about their energy efficiency projects and renewable/alternative energy here: http://www.adobe.com/corporate-responsibility/energy-conservation.html

In addition, Adobe even tracks over 30,000 data points on energy usage and critical operations.

Adobe’s commitment to the environment is legendary for the corporate world. In an area of relatively poor air quality, it is refreshing to see Adobe’s headquarters which are revolutionary, awe-inspiring and clean.

Monitoring LEED project compliance is a full time job, especially when it comes to monitoring waste flows from the project, its contractors and sub contractors. Waste Flows  provides waste and recycling tracking and monitoring solutions that are inexpensive and easy to use, while saving you time and money. Check out the website: http://wasteflows.com/

Tracking_Your_Waste_and_Recycling_for_LEED_is_Easy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great Green article from Green Halo
Track your recycling at www.greenhalosystems.com
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After a few false starts and a lengthy delay, the world’s tallest tower has finally been given a start date to begin construction. When it is completed, the Kingdom Tower will eventually stretch 3,280 feet into the Saudi Arabian sky, but up until now it hasn’t even gotten off the desert floor. In 2012, crews sunk a 330-foot-deep foundation into the sand but not much else has happened since then. Now the project has been given an April 27, 2014 start date and things are finally moving ahead.

Green Halo - World's Tallest Building to Begin Construction Next Month 2The building will cost 1.2 billion dollars to construct and when it is completed, it will be over 550 feet taller than the current tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. The developer plans to include a luxury hotel, apartments and condominiums, and the world’s highest observatory. The project will be jointly managed by companies EC Harris and Mace and was designed by the architectural firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill.

Although we have a start date, there are still plenty of questions that remain unanswered. The complex will contain 59 elevators and the observatory elevators will travel 32 feet a second. But we aren’t sure how the elevators will work, since current technology only allows for cables that extend 2,000 feet. It is also unclear just how high and how rapidly an elevator can go without having an impact on the human body. We also have no idea what, if any, consequences there are for humans living that high up in the sky.

The tower will be built with energy conservation and life-cycle considerations in mind, and developers hope to achieve something that is both ground-breaking and traditional. Ultimately the building will no doubt have new challenges and requirements that human beings have never addressed before. But building the world’s longest bridges required a leap of faith and the Kingdom Tower won’t be any different.

Another great Green article from Green Halo
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Hanok Tower is a complex wooden skyscraper that was inspired by traditional Korean houses. The project modifies a traditional building technique to suit one of the today’s most demanding architectural typologies – the skyscraper. Its unique combination of vernacular forms and advanced building technology brought it first prize at this year’s eVolo Skyscraper Competition.

Green Halo - Spectacular Wood Skyscraper That Can be Built Without a Single Nail Wins 2014 eVolo Skyscraper CompetitionArchitect Yong Ju Lee drew inspiration from traditional Korean houses and the versatility of vernacular architecture while designing Hanok Tower. The exposed wooden structural system, generally used for one-story residences, was applied to a high-rise design, and it controls the amount of available sunlight. Wooden connections called Gagu are used below the main rod system where the column meets the beam and girder, eliminating the need for additional parts such as nails. The design was developed using contemporary software which optimizes traditional building techniques.

Another great Green article from Green Halo
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Japan’s tallest building opened this week. Asia’s third-biggest metropolitan economy aims to lure tourists and stem businesses from moving to Tokyo.

Kintetsu Corp. (9041), one of the main rail operators in western Japan, spent 130 billion yen ($1.3 billion) and four years constructing the 300-meter (984-foot) Abeno Harukas skyscraper, according to the Osaka-based company. It will surpass the 296-meter Landmark Tower in Yokohama, about 20 miles south of central Tokyo.

Green Halo - Osaka Tests Tokyo Dominance With Japan’s Tallest SkyscraperThe new 60-floor complex, which includes a Marriott International Inc. (MAR)hotel, and a separate proposal for a 500 billion-yen casino resort are the latest attempts to bolster the city’s economy. Rather than tall towers, the metro area of 11 million people may need business zones with fewer regulations, according to Rakuten Securities Economic Research Institute.

“The building will be a success, but total demand won’t improve,” said Masayuki Kubota, chief strategist at the institute. “Osaka should try special economic zones and create new businesses from those zones.”

Japan wants to spur growth by easing restrictions in test zones under economic reforms pushed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The government is considering measures from cutting corporate taxes to loosening building restrictions in the zones.

Another great Green article from Green Halo
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Located in a San Antonio, Texas community, the house, made from a standard 40-foot shipping container (320 sq ft), stands in the backyard of a renovated warehouse.

The blue-painted container is equipped with heating and air-conditioning systems and its roof is filled with plants to help keep temperatures down inside the building.

Another great Green article from Green Halo
Track your recycling at www.greenhalosystems.com
Follow Green Halo on Twitter at http://twitter.com/greenhalousa