Building passive homes: A-1 Builders
On this episode of The Building Code, we’re joined by Maggie Bates, passive home consultant and co-owner of A-1 Builders and Adaptations Design Studio. We’re taking a deep dive into building passive houses and what it means to be a part of a worker-owned cooperative.
A-1 Builders and Adaptations Design Studio is a design/build company that transitioned from a Sub S Corporation to a Sub T Corporation, or in other words, they are now a worker-owned cooperative. What is a worker-owned cooperative exactly? After an employee works for the company for a few years, they are able to buy in and become an owner if they’re invited. A-1 Builders currently has four owners in the company, and six employees who will be eligible to buy in within the next year. But of course, in order to buy in, the employee must qualify.
Qualifications include, but are not limited to:
- Wanting to become an owner
- Going through training
- Being an employee for three years
- Being able to contribute to the initial capital
What are the benefits? Maggie said there was a radical shift in their company once employees bought in. Employees who became owners had a shift in their personality. “They just volunteer quicker. They are looking for solutions always. It’s really positive,” Maggie said.
Maggie is certified with Passive House Institute of the United States and is an expert in the world of building passive homes. What is passive building? Passive building uses a set of design principles to attain a high level of energy efficiency within a comfort level. In other words, passive home builders examine the climate they are building in and use unique design concepts to ensure the home is:
- Energy efficient
- Site specific
- Using the sun to its advantage
Tom points out that people usually don’t “go green” because of the cost, but Maggie explained how A-1 Builders focuses on what a customer values versus what their return on investment is when building in a green manner. “[Having a passive house] … means at the end of the month, your electric bill is lower. But then beyond that, it means, do you value that your home is not an energy suck on the planet?” explained Maggie. Placing the importance on what the customer values is more important to the A-1 team and helps them understand their customers better.
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