Green Built Alliance is hosting a work-based learning intern from Nesbitt Discovery Academy for the spring semester of 2018. During this time, students are tasked with exploring the fields that interest them the most, and our intern is drawn to career paths related to sustainability. She will be sitting down with numerous members who agreed to have her visit their job site to learn more about their particular line of work.
Green Built Alliance intern Kathleen Jacobsen visited our members at Conservation Pros, where she sat down with owners Marcus Renner and Sara Sabol, as well as project coordinator Harper Robinson.
GBA: What first peaked your interest in this career path?
Marcus: For me, it was definitely environmentalism. Wanting to make the planet a better place.
Sara: I think it is unanimous for all of us that it was environmentalism that first peaked our interest and doing our little part in order to save the planet.
GBA: What is your specialty?
Marcus: We make buildings more efficient and our specialty would be that we not only look at just insulation, we look at all the other ways to make a building more efficient.
GBA: How is your work sustainable for the environment?
Marcus: We are helping hundreds of buildings save energy. On average, I would say that after our crew is done with a home, it’s saving 15 to 20 percent and some homes are upward to 50 percent, so we’re definitely decreasing the carbon footprint of the housing stock in Asheville.
Harper: We try to build with environmentally friendly materials and minimal materials as well. We try to reduce our waste.
Sara: One of the cool things is that it lasts the life of the home too, so if someone passes their home on to their children or sells the house, the home itself is efficient for its life.
GBA: How many jobs do you do each year?
Marcus: 130 to 150 jobs a year.
GBA: How has your company made a difference?
Harper: I have a list that was made a year ago that provides how much of a difference we’ve made since the start of our company. We’ve probably added to that difference since then but from the start, we’ve taken 20 or so homes off the grid. In a year, we save on our carbon footprint with 380,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.
GBA: Why are you passionate about teaching our community what you do?
Marcus: We joke that we’re the ugly sister of the solar industry and the sustainability industry, because a lot of the work we do is behind-the-scenes and isn’t always visible at first. But the work that we do has multiple benefits because it not only saves energy which is good for the environment, but it also saves people money. Our work also increases the indoor air quality of a home because people aren’t breathing their attic or crawlspace air. And then we also increase the durability of buildings, which helps them last a lot longer so there is a five-fold benefit to what we do. It is better to make a building more efficient first before you put an amazing technology like solar panels onto your house. It turns out that for every dollar that you spend on weatherization and efficiency, you can save up to $3 on the price of your solar system.
Sara: It’s just something that a lot of homeowners aren’t aware of, like all the techniques you can use to make the home more energy-efficient. So in terms of teaching the homeowners and others about weatherization, essentially it is important.
GBA: What do you love most about working here and doing what you do?
Marcus: It’s not bad coming to work and I definitely don’t dread the fact that I have to come in the next day, because I absolutely love my job as a whole. We definitely have a nice friendly and relaxed workplace and we’re all doing good things for people’s homes.
GBA: What makes your company stand out?
Sara: Attention to detail is huge. There are a lot of companies out there that don’t provide the weatherization like we do or the energy-efficient angle that we have. We go a lot further when it comes to the energy efficiency retrofitting that we do.
Harper: We are not afraid to follow up on our own jobs and we make sure that things are done right.
GBA: Why are you members of the Green Built Alliance?
Marcus: They are very unique to our industry and we all need to stand together and promote the idea of more sustainable buildings.
GBA: Why are you passionate about green building and the work of the Green Built Alliance?
Marcus: I think buildings are a major area where we can make a difference in what we are doing to this planet. I like that the Green Built Alliance represents that to the public. The Green Built Alliance points out all the ways that we can possibly make a difference in our community just through sustainability and green building.