Last Green Building council president article Dec13

Article for the green building council December Blueprint issue
Hello HBA members and beyond
The last few years have been a pleasure on the green building council, Steve Theis passed on the president duties and now I pass them onto Joe from Metro Heating and Cooling. Tom Stevens made a great suggestion once from some feedback that we should have monthly info type meetings and for the last year or so I believe we have been doing just that. We had the most attended council meeting ever probably when TremCo came into our offices and gave a building scientist presentation second to none. We’ve had others from Kinzler, CertainTeed and other green building product reps- even Gilcrest Jewett gave us a presentation regarding some green building products and procedures. Pella Corporation doesn’t just give the phrase green building class, Pella Corporation is a long time Iowa company built on environmental sensibility. It was our popular GDSMHBA member Brandon Klinge who said it best that the green thing not only is a smart financial move for corporations to consider, it’s the best corporate image and face you can give your company. To show that you are a steward of the land is about as cool of an American as you can become, our industry has the most ‘cool factor’ of any regardless because of our responsible use of earths materials.
This last year we have established an executive board consisting of a president, vice, treasurer and secretary. We’ve had quarterly meetings and the one we used last quarter was a field trip open to anyone as always to a very green built bed and breakfast going up off 141(Grimes/Johnston area). The word is that building is so well done that Iowa State architectural master program is getting involved one way or another to learn from it, etc. That trip in particular was a lot of fun because as always on our green building council meetings we have the most intelligent questions being asked and explained. Our council is to learn more about proper building techniques and also educate our members accordingly.
Next year, some things possibly different and very welcomed by me from the new green council leadership
1. Name change possibly
2. More info meetings and educational type offerings
3. Lots more marketing, hopefully the use of social media, the HBA partnered website, etc.
December let’s plan on getting a ruling by our council to spend some of our money as we haven’t spent a dime on my watch I do believe, we go for beers and talk about the best building you’ve been a part of so far! Our monthly meeting is TBD, although maybe we should try to stick with a happy hour on the day after Christmas as it’s our fourth Thursday of the month as scheduled.

Summertime in The Beav

Hello Beaverdale, this maybe my last time in the magazine for a few months although I do guarantee you hear from me again soon. Please contact me for any questions, concerns or development ideas in Beaverdale. It seems like there is some good mojo humming around our hood- The Beaverdale farmers market is in full swing, the Beaverdale Business coalition is active having meetings and event planning, The Beaverdale Neighborhood association is super proud or should be about appropriately networking with the Neighborhood Finance Corporation increasing their business by a lot and helping increase our hood values all day long. The west side chamber has been active in the Beav as well and is refreshing to be included as the west side chamber of commerce actually has boundaries well north and west of Beaverdale. The Greater Des Moines Partnership(the mothership) for the local chamber of commerce has big influence and opportunity in our metro. With that being said please feel free to take advantage of all these great personalities(entities) involving Beaverdale as they all could use more neighborhood resident and business owner involvement. To help you keep some of it straight I will help you with the acronyms or abbreviated slang concerning each. BNA is the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association, The BBC is the Beaverdale Business Coalition, The NFC is the Neighborhood Finance Corporation, The partnership concerns the Greater Des Moines Partnership as the ring leader for the west side chamber of commerce and all the other local chamber of commerce communities.

Can I please say that it feels like I have been screaming at the top of my lungs about walkability in Beaverdale, this concerns the direct action of our residents walking around our neighborhood. Allowing us businesses to visit, friends to see on the block or beyond, family to walk in strollers, etc. all via the sidewalks our neighborhood offers. Not to mention the trails for biking or jogging with dogs, etc. these opportunities promote a healthy community first. A friendly community second and last but not least community pride. We can work in property values in there somewhere too, obviously walkable communities is where people want to live. As I have been screaming it feels like this last year in this publication, even though the excuse has maybe been the weather, finally we have the sidewalks pretty well packed these days as we head well into summer. The city of DSM it looks like is helping with entry and exits from sidewalks to streets making them more disability and stroller friendly, safer and more comfortable in general too.

Some stuff for the next year I would like for all of us to talk about is let’s finally agree and get some construction happening on the Beaverdale streetscape, since we all can agree about nice sidewalks(I hope) how beautifying Beaver Avenue and beyond. Do you mind please if we mention real estate development(not for seniors or grocery stores because that’s already here and more coming soon). Are condos welcomed in Beaverdale for the people in their 50s especially who don’t want to fully maintain a house anymore, don’t need three bedrooms, and want to be able to leave behind their home while on vacation in a very safe complex, and first time home owners who can’t afford new construction otherwise, people who like Beaverdale for what it has to offer other than a white picket fence. How about townhouses, how about new construction for business-Let’s talk about it-”density”. Could we use some population around here spending money in our local establishments or more people involved creating a better community. By the way, we can create more green space by also creating more density and bettering our environment around the Beav. You 2 or 3 people who want to talk about more green space this time around better start talking now about putting a group together to buy up some Beaverdale ground before someone else does, instead how about putting green space on that roof………over there.

May GDSM Home Builders Association article

Summer is just about here as it was a short Spring. The HBA’s looking forward to a great home show and we on the green building council hope that it’s another huge success like last year. Good luck to Matt Thompson as ring leader, him and their committee can count on our council members viewing and providing any necessary feedback if asked. We will also try to see if this year or maybe starting next year if our green building council can sponsor an award geared towards the best HERS rating maybe or best use of renewable energy, etc. Next years home show is being decided upon now as well and we wish the three finalists luck on being chosen. One in particular site has many green building features

As a green builder, I must say that I’m very excited to build my little family our first house. We are hopefully going to stay in Beaverdale or close to it on an infill lot. My wife and I really love our Beaverdale brick ranch next to Beaverdale Park, although come on I want to show off my abilities to my wife obviously. This was not an easy sell to her until I mentioned the part about how healthy of a home I can provide. A home that doesn’t ever allow moisture intrusion, one that never allows pest invasions, one that obviously doesn’t have any lead paint and also has low VOC paint quality, also uses low VOC materials such as cabinets and flooring and others. A house that is ventilated the right way along with being wrapped up tight. All of these things and more add to the quality of the indoor air environment that makes green building important to health and wellness conscious people such as my wife (me too for that matter). When she realized how much of a positive impact this kind of healthy home would have on our family, she got on my green building train. She never really asked much about what I’m passionate about regarding this part of my work day although I’d like to think that it turned her on a little regarding me providing such a healthy living environment for us.

If you are wondering how best to live in Des Moines on infill lots, which simply means lots that were developed years ago not anything new necessarily. As I wrote in the Beaverdale Living magazine this month sharing the ideas of using a real estate professional to hunt for you a foreclosures or short sale on properties that could be deconstructed for an all new home. Or, public nuisance property, tax liened property, sheriff sale property, county owned lots, city owned lots, these are all good options for finding infill lots to build on. For example there has been many new construction homes built-in Beaverdale as well south of grand.

Happy Summertime, hope to see you at the home show!

May Beaverdale Living magazine article

Hello Beaverdale, our farmers market is Tuesdays after the work day until 7:30 starting early June through Septemberish. Those who have attended before know how sweet of an asset this is for our neighborhood. Anyone and everyone is welcome, location has changed to Boesen Field just south of Boesen the Florist on the empty ground there. The exposure will be fantastic for us on Beaver as will being able to park easier and as will being more centrally located in our hood for walkers, bikers, etc. WWW.BEAVERDALEFARMERSMARKET.ORG

So, the west side chamber I want to mention as I’ve been attending a few events is another great asset for Beaverdalians that is very under utilized. First of all the chamber of commerce is one of the best groups for businesses to be a part of around the country. They function on many levels, mainly by promoting business networking amongst communities. My membership not only keeps me in the loop of all things GDSM Partnership wise, I’m able to be in the know of local west side DSM business people. The west side stretches quite a ways beyond our Beaverdale boundaries well into Merle Hood. I’m sharing because I’ve enjoyed the benefits such as May 31st I’ll be networking ‘On the Green’ 14th hole at Wakonda during the Principal Charity classic for free as part of my annual membership dues. For Beaverdale to keep up and grow as thee neighborhood in Des Moines I feel we need to embrace all of the west side of Des Moines at the very least to showcase our neighborhood residents and business as good/friendly neighbors to the others that are very close to us. Obviously, we want and need them in our businesses and neighborhood events just as they do us.

Lastly for now, I’d like to say I care a whole lot about the Beaverdale main street future as most of us do. It seems to bring about lots of controversy or at least did in the past which is unfortunate because I think most of us would just love to see some improvements done. My family and I with two strollers can fit side by side, talking and walking down Beaver Avenue just as a couple of people can walk or jog comfortably side by side down Beaver with only five of my footprints across. Meaning with only five foot wide sidewalks up and down Beaver we can accomplish a lot towards promoting a healthier community here in the Beav! Let’s get it done, please help Sasha Kamper as the BNA committee leader raise the rest of the funds by the end of this Summer -at the latest -as she is just about there with only about $130k more to go. WWW.BEAVERDALE.ORG

hba blueprint article for May

Hello Membership! All is on fire for the green council as we had an awesome 50 or 60 show for our building scientist from Tremco building products come (learn) us a some more about proper building techniques. It was big fun for the geek in all of us, there were many highlights I’ll share now as well. First of all, these learning experiences are like gold as they are so valuable and it’s just part of your $25 green council yearly membership. Come on, each month we stuff scheduled very worth your time. Part of how his talk ended he pushed Energy Star 3.0 homes as it should be our associations standard, my thought is that then great builders will raise the bar on their homes to certified green homes through the NAHB. Anyway, he said it just like this “if you build to energy star these days you still are able to qualify for the $2,000 federal tax credit, the couple thousand dollars from the energy companies and lastly you are able to use less materials because you are using proper building techniques for our region. Come on, that truly is a WIN< WIN< WIN! One of his points talked about energy raters being your friend during construction on each unit, they are valuable because they are an extra set of third party eyes on your project. They are usually very skilled in the understanding of building performance and test accordingly, they help you go after all the rebate/tax credit dough too. Let me mention to you builders out there wanting to market your energy star homes please use the energy fields in the local MLS so buyers in our marketplace can search accordingly, your realtor may not be aware of these new features(you can put your HERS rating, etc. on there too). There’s builders out there that think that the performance path to passing third party verifications is a good alternative to the prescriptive path, it is also your friend. What was also mentioned was the ideas of air barriers and vapor diffusion, here is where it gets about as controversial as our industry can stand it. Yesterday’s builders say this about vapor barriers, simply that they are needed and that moisture needs to dry to the inside or outside or whatever……I quote our friend from Tremco “there is no building scientist in America that thinks that is the right way to go anymore” we have evolved and “now vapor diffusion within our wall sections is the only way to build”. Tight although permeable construction is advised, by our latest speaker he even says that you can’t build them tight enough and not to scared of that. Furthermore he said to do everything you can to keep the air blocked from the outside wanting in the house. Since he was so awesome I’ll plug their latest and greatest product as their air and water barrier is now a liquid applied product, check it out with our membership friends at Tremco. May is our field trip with American Concrete, June is Dan’s overhead doors, July is with the very knowledgeable folks from Kinzler, and August we will road trip to ReWall. Keep it local whenever you can please, we can probably build the entire house with materials from within a 500 mile radius of our metro. That just makes sense for our friendly region, please tell me your ideas for our local HBA to start a conversation about an apprenticeship that is not already being offered around here. Keep this in mind as Radon was defeated at the state house I believe, that will resurface every year and if you spend just a few minutes figuring out what it takes to put passive systems in our homes then maybe we can control the legislation that is bound to make its way into law sooner or later. Let’s move some dirt around!!!!

Beaverdale is the best hood in the country, said by many publications around the country

Hello Beaverdale and beyond, thanks for reading my article for the Beaverdale Living magazine as it’s my pleasure to be able to communicate with you this way. This neighborhood of ours is something so very special, I know most of you know this. There are people that have lived here for years and there are people moving into the neighborhood all the time too. Let’s please ask ourselves, why would anyone ever want to move out. Sure there’s job relocations and we can’t do much about those kinds of transfers, also family forced moves when people need to get closer to family members. Let’s talk about the other reasons for moving as we talk about the overwhelming reasons for NOT moving out of Beaverdale.

Small closets are a big issue amongst residents, small kitchens too, small baths for that matter as well, we all know the answer to a lot of those concerns are remodeling. How about build and design a new house in Beaverdale! This is a good answer and option most people don’t realize. There are many options real estate professionals can help you with such as Sherriff’s Sales, Tax sales, foreclosure, short sales, public nuisance, fire sales, etc. Those all offer opportunities to buy a piece of property for below market value and then be considered for deconstruction on good 50310 lots. People in Chicago do it all the time for neighborhoods they love, people in Des Moines can do it too. If you are worried about value and sales comparable please consider the facts that there are 250k-500k homes all over our neighborhood.

How about Schools, maybe you just don’t want to go to the DSM Public Schools your house is districted. That’s a bummer because you probably have misunderstood notions about these schools and secondly you haven’t actually taken the time to find out for yourself how good or bad these schools are by utilizing a walk through and in person interview. Our Principals are more than happy to meet with you to answer any and all of your questions, then you can decide for yourself how you feel about your DSM Public School district. Don’t forget your open enrollment options are endless around Des Moines as well as opportunities that aren’t so traditional. Obviously, my alma matter Holy Trinity would love for you to consider a private education as any private school would welcome you too.

Older adults(seniors) have lots of options around here as I see it although how about ”the baby boomers”? 55plus living in associations is a void I feel needs addressed here in Beaverdale! People who want their exterior property maintenance covered by an association, that’s a big reason too why people leave our beautiful hood.

March 2013

Hello!    Appropriately I’m writing this article thinking of St. Patrick’s Day and I hope everyone had a fun holiday.Here’s a toast to all your closings so far this year and many more to come if you are in my industry or otherwise:

May your neighbors respect you, Trouble neglect you, The angels protect you, And heaven accept you.

How about an Irish blessing now:

May you always have walls for the winds,

a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,

laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,

and all your heart might desire.

Let it Spring I say, come on!  As I’m writing this it snowed today well into March.  Hopefully many of you had been able to make time for all the home shows this winter.  Project ideas galore for remodeling and new construction are abundant throughout various vendor booths, if not search the website for some good contractors websites.  Many projects have been on paper or down on paper for this year.  There should be some good improvements to our metro and beyond in 2013.  Paired with a good real estate market, values around here are back to a real good price point.  It’s fun to have people buzzing in my industry regarding products, projects, or consumer anticipation.   When the opportunity presented itself at previous home shows I participated in as a home builder, I was able to tell people how the Home Builders Association is a local, state and national Association.  It was important to point out to prospects that through the National Association of Home Builders Research Center (formerly, now under new name) we certify homes green by third-party verification.  This was something that everyone I talked to was interested in and none were aware of yet in our market.  Whenever you get the chance, please ask about our membership’s ability to certify homes green better than any other green certification process.  This includes asking about how our certification is very similar to LEED certifications that you might have heard about because of all the big commercial buildings that now carry these certifications around the metro.  Let’s let the commercial buildings have the LEED credits and leave it to our home builders association to be the experts within our world of residential construction.  Certifying Homes Energy Star is the closest step below a green certification and is also a very good third-party certification to ensure quality projects sensitive to energy efficiencies(water efficiencies too).

If anyone, like me, dreams of new developments and home buildings to come, please consider certifying these green through the NAHB.  This process shouldn’t be intimidating and really proves better quality products for our community to be proud of in Iowa.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get in our national association publications with some exposure on the green building front? Not to sound cliché…but everyone is doing it around the country!  Please ask yourself, “what is holding you back from going green?”  Please feel free to contact me with reservations about building to these green standards, or feel free to bounce ideas for homes and developments you are considering certifying green.

Green Building Tip of the Month:

Use a machine to mulch the good wood left over as scrap from your job site to give the house some already paid for landscaping. Just make sure it’s not treated wood or have glue in it, you might feel good about saving a little space at the landfill too.

I’ll leave you with one more St. Patrick’s Day quotation below – thanks for your time.

“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time — a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”

By Adrienne Cook.   •

Green Building in the Beav and Beyond

Posted September 26, 2012 in Advice Column, Beaverdale

By Matt Connolly, Generation Green Builders

Let’s just say that Beaverdale could use a little green building technique when it comes time to actually move forward on the Mainstreet initiative that seems to be going on forever and ever.

By the way, I really am hopeful our great neighborhood gets to enjoy some sweet improvements sooner or later. Storm water management is a big part of the green thing, and our streets could really use some attention to that matter. Wide sidewalks would be great, too, by promoting more community pride along with healthy lifestyles. To be able to walk by another couple going down Beaver would be fantastic without having to go into someone’s yard or into the parking or even the street. Street lights would be fantastic, and we could obviously go with very long-lasting and economical LED lighting to make our sidewalks safer and our neighborhood much more attractive.

Next in the metro, how about Sixth Avenue downtown getting an EPA green building project makeover on their dime because of a program called Greening Americas Capitals? Permeable streets and everything, very cool for downtown. A green builder friend of mine asked me to be present at his marketing green class to real estate agents up in Ankeny, and it’s real fun to be able to talk about all these things we are doing in certified green homes these days. Because if you listen to the quality of buildings that we provide and savings that can be made, people really like it; obviously they should.

Also in the metro, an energy audit friend of mine spoke to a class at DMACC and was telling them about how much energy savings can be had by allowing him to do a $150 diagnosis. So I had him to my house in Beaverdale and, wow, was it overdue for me to start practicing what I preach.

The nice thing is that Mid American rebates not only will cover the energy audit from an outside source, but potentially thousands on the upgrades that you make because of the audit. Some people would rather live in an efficient home both water-wise and energy-wise, along with having a healthy indoor air environment for their family before spending a couple thousand on granite countertops.

Lastly, throughout the metro and beyond, I have heard serious rumors about natural gas pumps popping up soon. Furthermore, have you been to the excellent new Hy-Vee in Urbandale yet? Not only are they going after a serious green building designation for that piece of real estate, but they have two electric car charging stations. You just have to love change, and if you don’t, you have to live with it anyway. It has been a great summer in Beaverdale. I hope everyone enjoyed the Fall Fest and loves watching football in all our great Beaverdale establishments.

Information provided by Matt Connolly, Generation Green Builders, 3521 Beaver Ave., Des Moines, 515-453-6196.

My first blog, let it be about the Green Thang!


It’s March and it’s a great time of year to check in on how we are doing on our first quarter goals of 2013.  Hopefully yours are being met so far or you are like me with the slower winter per usual in our industry.  Now is the time of year as you are reading this right now that all the homeowners/buyers/sellers are looking for dirt to be moving and their projects to be underway.  There has been lots of interest around town to remodel, finish basements, build houses, move.  This is all very encouraging because as my goals are high so is our industry standard.  Lots of buzz that the downturn is over and that the question now is can we sustain the upturn.  We will, I think because people love projects bettering their living arrangements.  Which obviously we love the opportunity to service their desires in an economically responsible way.  Probably if you are interested in reading my article here you have probably gone to or are planning on going to one of the many home shows/expos types around town as there are many.  Obviously the Home Builders Association is best and the one in Beaverdale should be fantastic for Beaverdale residents wanting to utilize the Neighborhood Finance corporation funds available to them.


If you haven’t caught the HGTV new show on our very own downtown West End Architectural Salvage, please do so as we are very proud to have them in town.  They are airing these episodes on a regular basis, I know some local Beaverdale friends of mine are being aired in March(I believe) as I will be sure to tune into that one.


There are some senior apartments going up on Franklin Avenue in Des Moines and a good location for them in my mind right in line next to a Polk County senior center and the Franklin library.  If you haven’t heard of Universal design, I must inform you of how very nice this concept is in building residences for anyone to age in place.  Friends of mine at the Wells and Associates firm are designing that project and others I’m sure with many of these concepts in mind.  Let me first say that real estate and construction is an investment first and a place to live second.  With that in mind, once you commit to owning any property you purchase for at least 10 years, than I can safely say that most(almost all) of the time you are going to come out ahead in that investment.  If we all built with Universal design in mind then we would have levers instead of knobs on doors, rocker switches instead of toggles for lights-all of these keeping arthritis in mind and easing that pain where you live.  How about a zero entry home(no stairs), in case someone ends up in a wheelchair you don’t have to move.  Furthermore having wider hallways and doorways, lower countertops, things like these don’t hurt a thing although help many people by allowing them comfort in their home.  How about higher stools, higher outlets, lower switches, all of these things are universally designed for everyone.


In conclusion please allow me to ask you some questions.  Please feel free to keep asking these questions towards a healthier lifestyle, are you concerned about the air we breathe wherever you are that makes a difference to you, or is it the exercise options/transit options close to our homes that makes a difference, or is it the access to local fruits, vegetables, meats, grains and dairy.  Is there are a farmers market close to you, are there trails, are there green buildings and clean fuel burning autos?  These are the things that people desire to live around, why wouldn’t they?