According to a recent Houston Chronicle article, area builders in Montgomery County have been thinking extra hard about new ways to “go green” in construction practices. In the interest of lowering home energy bills and doing their duty for the environment, builders seek new products and practices to incorporate into all new residential buildings.
“We will reach our ultimate goal when we don’t have to use the word ‘green’ anymore, because that’s the norm,” says Paul Vanderwal, a local architect focused on the green movement. “We’ll be as responsible about our planet, our community and our children as we can be.”
Vanderwal claims that, while the green building trend is already well underway in Houston, awareness is just beginning in the neighboring suburbs.
Builders have a variety of options available for going green, such as using recycled materials, utilizing alternative energy sources and providing native landscapes in front yards. Jay Wendell, founder of Terrebonne Custom Homes LLC, says green building has constantly been on his mind lately.
“This is the way of the future,” Wendell said. “Sustainability will probably be the norm in building codes 10 years from now.”
As the French word “terrebonne” translates into English as “good earth,” it seems only fitting that Wendell’s company should support sustainable construction practices. Terrebonne is currently working on its first sustainable home in the Teaswood neighborhood in Conroe.
Three years ago, The Dinerstein Companies, national apartment complex builders, began following the green train too. The company developed the Millennium Waterway Apartments in The Woodlands, which were completed in 2010 and awarded a LEED Silver certification. Brian Dinerstein, company partner, claims that the company is extremely committed to sustainable construction.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Dinerstein stated. “Part of our company’s mission is to be good stewards for our community.”
Another construction company specializing in green construction is GradCo Structures and Homes, LLC, led by Sergio Grado. Grado is also the chairman of the recently launched U.S. Green Building Council, Montgomery Branch.
“We formed last year, and now we’re up and running,” Grado said. “Our goal is to advocate and educate about green building.”
Vanderwal was also involved in the formation of the USGBC Montgomery Branch, which blends the green movement of the city and suburbs together. Grado and Vanderwal both stress the Montgomery Branch’s promise to move towards sustainable practices which are proven and logical, rather than jumping on board with all of the products which claim to be green.
“It has to make sense,” Vanderwal says of green practice. “Let’s be smart about what we build and how we live.”
The USGBC Montgomery Branch has been working on a container model-home project. The model-home will serve not only as an example for those interested in learning about green homes, but also as an office space and resource center for the new branch.
“We want a prototype,” Vanderwal said. “The recycling of the container is just part of it.”
The model-home, which will likely be made of recycled materials, will also serve the purpose of educating the community and demonstrating how each and every member can be more environmentally aware and sustainable.
“There’s a lot of activity going on already, but it’s a question of who knows about it,” Grado said. “And we definitely want to encourage more.”
“There’s a group of people who are really interested but are hesitant,” Vanderwal said. “Our job is to put it all out there and let people consider green building.”