Welcome to the inaugural column of the Innovation Spotlight. Champions for Sustainability (C4S) launched this initiative to help tell the informative and inspirational stories of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s green business organizations in this monthly feature about innovative companies in green products, services, and jobs.
Southwestern Pennsylvania is tapping into cutting-edge people and companies that are offering products, services, and employment to growing markets that contribute to our regional economy based on green and sustainable principles. It is important that these stories are told so that our region’s workforce, consumers, potential business partners, and community members can connect and build relationships with these leading firms.
This initiative is generously supported by the Green Building and Construction Industry Partnership (GBCIP) as convened by the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board. If you are a Green Building and Construction related employer and would like to learn more about the GBCIP please contact Micah Frankenfield at email@example.com.
February 3, 2011
Tim Carryer, President and Founder
The recent cold weather spell has reminded us all about the costs of heating our homes and businesses. This first Innovation Spotlight focuses on a local entrepreneur who has not only helped many businesses and individual homeowners save on the cost of heating and cooling their place of business and their homes, but makes people realize that there are even more potentially valuable opportunities that begin with looking at the performance of their built structures from the perspective of a system.
Performance Over Efficiency
Tim Carryer founded GreenoverGreen (GoG) in 2009 in order to offer businesses and homeowners a strategy of a “whole home performance” or “whole workplace performance” perspective. Mr. Carryer pointed out that people will make isolated decisions about replacing a broken HVAC, replacing old windows, or by hiring a weatherization expert to seal up leaks without recognizing that these isolated choices about technology miss huge savings and opportunities for adding value.
If someone replaces an HVAC without making the whole structure more energy efficient, that person will buy a much bigger HVAC than would otherwise be necessary and pay higher monthly bills.
Instead, the vision for GreenoverGreen focuses on a structure’s comfort and air quality and ties strategic energy choices to an assessment of those conditions. First, figure out which rooms in a structure are cold and drafty-- places where people avoid. A solution that provides optimum value to the home finds the causes of these conditions and corrects them. Causes include lack of insulation in walls or attic, leaks around doors and windows, gaps in the corners of the building or roof, among many other possible sources. Leakage can account for up to 40 percent of energy lost from a building.
Second, investigate indoor air quality of the structure. Inspect ductwork to see if it contains mold or mildew, a common condition for structures in this wet region. Better health from improved indoor air quality adds value to the structure.
Comfort and air quality issues come from outdated construction techniques. Pittsburgh has old housing and building stock. Many structures were built when coal was used to heat steam boilers—in an age where energy seemed limitless and air quality was not a priority. Even more recent structures have designs that do not prioritize air quality, comfort, or efficiency.
For these reasons GoG offers a comprehensive service that combines an extensive audit that looks at home or building performance from the perspective of adding comfort, improving air quality, and offering more efficient energy outcomes. GOG’s services improve the daily functioning of the structure and increase its overall value.
Trust and Cost
Mr. Carryer pointed out that there are two significant issues that need to be overcome before a homeowner or building owner is won over by this performance and value driven approach. First, it might look like the audit is being set up as a way to help sell the owner on services and materials that will make the contractor a lot of money. This is fundamentally an issue of trust. Pittsburgh consumers tend to be rather conservative in their dealings with contractors, especially in the weatherization industry, an industry that is new on most people’s radar screens.
GoG overcomes trust concerns because it operates as a network service guided by regulated standards instead of as a single contractor whose interest may be fragmented according to its specialty for technology installation. Instead, GoG puts together an optimal package that minimizes the total investment costs and maximizes the total value to a home or building. This was explained as building a team that fits to the needs of a particular structure, based on the comprehensive audit. The team provides the least expensive service options—beginning with sealing the building envelope first in order to minimize the size and expense of other equipment, such as new HVAC systems, windows, or alternative energy systems.
GoG also is a member and partner with the Diagnostic Energy Auditors of Western Pennsylvania (DEAWP), which acts as a source for experienced, certified, independent energy auditors and contractors.
All of GoG’s providers are certified according to RESNET/BPI national standards. RESNET and BPI standards serve as the accreditation requirements for service providers and are associated with the USEPA Energy Star program as well as the Department of Energy. This adherence to standards of practice and methodology, as well as the tailoring of a team specifically to the needs of a particular home, mean that GoG has the interest of the best value for the home or building owner at the highest level, not just selling products or services that may not be needed or add to the value of the home.
The second issue is cost. GoG integrates a funding package that combines tapping into tax credits, grants, rebates, utility programs (launched from PA ACT 129), and low interest loans that provide a package for maximizing the value for that particular home or business. The program of recommendations and financing are attuned to the house’s or building’s ownership time frame. Longer term ownership (5 years or longer) provides for more value from making changes.
There are some new trends taking place in the housing market, driven by banks and mortgage companies, for which homes are being assigned the equivalent of “MPG” ratings: the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) is a growing trend that will mean that a particular home or building will be assigned an energy performance rating. This rating can influence the future sale of that property, with more efficient properties likely selling faster and at higher values than homes rated at lower efficiencies. Launched in California and increasingly being deployed in housing markets in New Jersey, New York, and other parts of New England, HERS is likely to make its way into the Pennsylvania housing market. Vice President Joe Biden announced in November 2010 a home efficiency program that incorporates a score on home energy efficiency. The result of this rating system is to further strengthen the perspective of energy, comfort, and air quality as directly tied to the value of a home or property, meaning future property assessments and loan applications will take into account a HERS rating for that property. Short term cost is an important factor, but trends and programs increasingly are making this financial picture shift towards long term value of homes, with funds to reduce the impact of the short term costs.
Building a Marketplace for Value and Employment
In an economic climate where building a workforce and saving on costs through smart investment takes on the highest priority, GoG and its network of contractors sees the potential for how this industry is on the cusp of a breakthrough that can add millions of dollars in value to the local economy and employ more people as a direct result of this investment of savings and value. The industry does not have a lot of barriers to entry into the marketplace, as the standards and training programs are very real and in place. It is possible to climb a career ladder from an entry position doing basic installation work to eventually becoming an independent entrepreneur participating as a service provider in GoG’s network. Candidates seeking entry into the field must have a strong work ethic and basic skills in math, reading, and using tools. From there training programs for certification and installing more advanced equipment are in place.
Mr. Carryer pointed out that the word needs to get out about these career opportunities, as the need for more certified contractors exists, especially as more people learn about the value of the service and what it means for the value of their homes.
“There are employment opportunities as more people realize this industry is about to make a difference in the economic development of our region,” Carryer said.
According to Carryer, “Instead of money being spent on paying for consumable energy, people can simultaneously improve the value of their homes, build a stronger regional, skilled workforce, can provide increased demands for bringing together local trades to tackle an important regional issue, and can do something to help improve their neighborhoods and communities. This is a no-brainer. The word just needs to get out”
And our region appreciates the pioneering, entrepreneurial role that Tim Carryer has taken with establishing GreenoverGreen, an organization at the center of getting these new opportunities started.
For more information about training and employment opportunities in this industry, visit the following resources for more information: