Going green: The benefits of building eco-friendly homes with Casey Grey

Show Notes

On today’s episode of “The Building Code,” Zach and Charley are talking to Casey Grey, founder and CEO of The Conscious Builder, a custom home and renovation company in Ontario, Canada. Casey took an early interest in the construction industry starting his career in renovations at the age of 17 before starting his own company at 24. His focus then became building net-zero homes and educating others on the importance of creating healthy living environments.

Listen to the full episode to hear more about what it means to build net-zero homes and how to educate homeowners on the benefits.

HOW DO YOU EDUCATE CLIENTS ON THE BENEFITS OF NET-ZERO HOMES AND HELP THEM CHOOSE WHAT WORK BEST FOR THEM?

“We put out so much content to help educate people. It’s up to us to give the clients the options, so that they can make decision that’s best for them because there are so many factors. There are all sorts of products out there that are better for the environment. But usually, those products are a lot more expensive, too. So, what’s most important to that individual, to the person that we’re building for? Based on what’s important to them, we’ll make recommendations for the wall assembly or what products to use and so forth. But at the end of the day, it’s not up to us. And we’re not building for everybody, but we’re using the experience and the knowledge that we have to help teach other people, so that they can ask better questions when they go to buy their house. They can go to their builder and ask for specific things. A lot of people who reach out to us have watched a lot of our videos.”

What is your focus when building a net-zero home?

“Where we really focus on is really for the house itself and the health, the comfort, the benefits to the homeowner. Because at the end of the day, you still want to build a healthy indoor air quality, like a healthy environment for people living in the house because we spend like 90% of our time inside. Depending on where you live, could be more, could be less. But most of our time is spent indoors. Obviously, we live at home, and now most of us are working at home. So, we really focus on, “Okay, what do we have to do?” By default, when you build a healthy and comfortable home, you build a more efficient home, which in turn helps everything else that people say is affecting the climate. That’s where we’re at.”

Related content:

Visit The Conscious Builder Academy and use code BT15 to get 15% off any course.

Listen to the last episode of “The Building Code” to hear Bill Smithers’s insights on inflation and how it will continue to affect the construction industry.

Subscribe here, and never miss an episode.

Got podcast topic suggestions? Reach out to us at podcast@buildertrend.com.

The Better Way, a podcast by Buildertrend:

Looking to improve how your team plans projects with the world’s No. 1 construction management software? Pick up Buildertrend project planning pro tips on the newest season of “The Better Way, a podcast by Buildertrend.” Subscribe and stream all of these bingeable episodes on your favorite listening app now.

Follow us on social:

Instagram and Facebook

Listen to “The Building Code” on YouTube! And be sure to head over to Facebook to join The Building Code Crew fan page for some fun discussions with fellow listeners.

Transcript

Zach Wojtowicz:

Welcome to “The Building Code.” I’m Zach Wojtowicz.

Charley Burtwistle:

And I am Charley Burtwistle.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And today, we have Casey Grey from The Conscious Builder on.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. Super excited about this one. Net-zero homes is something that has always been really, really interesting to me. And we’ve had someone on before.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Bob Deeks.

Charley Burtwistle:

Bob Deeks. That was one of our first episodes that we ever did together. So, has been a while. It was a great episode. Definitely go back and check that out. But I can’t remember if I told this story or not, but I worked up in Washington, DC, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Zach Wojtowicz:

So, you have traveled.

Charley Burtwistle:

67 summers ago. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. My college used to send me places. My current employer does not.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Oh, public institutions can put money on the dime, but Buildertrend no.

Charley Burtwistle:

They have this … National Institute of Standard and Technology. They’re all about testing things and beating standard.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Interesting.

Charley Burtwistle:

They have this net-zero home that they’re constantly trying to optimize and test.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Really.

Charley Burtwistle:

But they can’t have a family living in it because that’s too many variables with a real human family. So, what they do is they have heaters …

Zach Wojtowicz:

Just put the interns in, or what?

Charley Burtwistle:

No, no, no. They have heaters and humidifiers throughout the house in each room, four in each room, that they turn on and off in a consistent route that a family would take. So, they turn on the heater, the purifier in the bathroom.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Interesting.

Charley Burtwistle:

They have the shower automated to turn on. Then they leave that room, the heater, humidifier and the laundry room turns on. The washer turns on. So, it implies or does a good job of being an example family, but it’s actually just a bunch of robots.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Wow.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. Random story. We’ll probably have to cut this for the intro, but if you’re still listening …

Zach Wojtowicz:

No cutting. We’re keeping it.

Charley Burtwistle:

Casey gray. Tell them a little bit about who Casey is, Zach.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Casey founded The Conscious Builder, out in Ontario, Canada – Ottawa, to be specific. One thing I really enjoyed when I was doing our pre-work is all the content he produces.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I mean his podcast, his blog, his YouTube channel. So, we’re going to get into all that. Let’s get Casey here. Casey Grey, welcome to “The Building Code.” Thank you so much for joining us. Of course, you run The Conscious Builder. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business and what brought you on “The Building Code” today?

Casey Grey:

Yeah, thanks for having me. First, excited to be here. A little bit about myself. I guess, going back, born and raised in Ottawa, still in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and really went through high school expecting to become an engineer because I wanted to build something, but I didn’t really know who built stuff. And then realized that carpenters are actually building the stuff with their hands. So, they started pushing trades in high school when I was toward the end of my high school.

Actually, I was that first cohort in Canada, or at least Ontario, where they stopped doing grade 13 OAC. And so I said, “I don’t want to go to university. I want to go become a carpenter instead.” And my mom was cool with it. So, all my grades dropped after that because I stopped trying because … Other than my construction course, I think I had like 98% in that or something.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Your mom’s like, “What have I done?”

Casey Grey:

Yeah. So, right out of high school, started in construction. So, at 17, I found a great company that I worked for almost seven years doing major renovations. And then he was kind of developing his own property. So, I started running jobs for him, I think, when I was 20, maybe 21.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Wow.

Casey Grey:

Started running projects and eventually building some detached houses for him that he was selling and eventually went out of my own around 24. And from that, I was just a young guy who wanted to make some money and be in control of what I was doing. Wasn’t really thinking beyond that. But The Conscious Builder started to come into focus when my son was born.

So, I can get into that a little bit later if you’re interested. But that was kind of when we started think … stop thinking about myself because what are you doing when you’re in your twenties.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. No, that’s awesome. I mean, it’s really cool. So, you’ve been running this for a while. You change your perspective. Those life events certainly have a huge impact on the way you view the world. Right? I love your name, The Conscious Builder, as a brand. That’s really unique. Let’s talk about just your business and how many people are working for you now. How many jobs are you doing? I’ve just been interested in kind of your company profile of what is The Conscious Builder.

Casey Grey:

Yeah. So, in terms of the size of the business, we’re about 19 people now, including myself. The way we have it set up is I still navigate the sales, and I do a lot. Obviously, all the marketing and the podcast interviews and YouTube stuff that we do. It’s not just me doing all the editing and stuff, but I’m kind of the face of that. So that takes up a lot of my time.

My brother, one of my brothers. I have four brothers. But one of them is a partner in the company. So, he’s our COO. So, he’s in the background a lot of the time dealing with the systems and processes and figuring out what’s working, what’s not working, and making them better. I’m very much thinking further ahead. And he’s thinking like, “All right, how do we make this good?”

So, we make a good team. We do have Amber, who’s running our marketing. So, her and Brian do all of our videos with myself. And my wife helps with that as well, finding guests and navigating that. She helps, my wife also helps with kind of the HR stuff, anything that comes up. So, a lot of the … She’s a John Family therapist. So, it’s another great team member because she can help navigate people, and she’s really good at that, so that’s a huge help.

Then we have Matt and Gerri-Gail who’s kind of like … Matt’s our head of operations, Gerri-Gail kind of coordinating everything. And then we have all of our team making stuff happen on the sites right beyond that. So, we’re pretty top-heavy. We know. But we’re building up that aspect of the business, right. So, it’s a different income stream is what we’re going for as we build this out beyond just being a construction company.

Charley Burtwistle:

That’s awesome. Yeah. I love the kind of go-to-market strategy you have. Zach and I were talking before you hopped on. On our show notes here, you got the blog listed here. You got the podcast list here. You got the YouTube listed here. So really, really cool to see kind of the marketing strategy that you’re going after and kind of being the subject-matter expert and industry leader.

And what we’re super excited about to have you on today is kind of your specialty with the net-zero homes. Can you tell us a little bit about when you kind of made that conscious decision to focus there and grow the company in that direction?

Casey Grey:

Yeah, so that goes back to my son being born. So actually, where our mindset, and I say our because it’s my wife and I, we’ve been growing together. Her and I have been together 17 years now. Actually, we’re coming up on our 10th wedding anniversary.

Charley Burtwistle:

Wow. Congrats.

Casey Grey:

… 10th wedding anniversary in two weeks.

Charley Burtwistle:

That’s amazing.

Casey Grey:

So, we’ve definitely been growing together, and we went to a Tony Robbins event years ago. So, before our son was born, so this is probably about 10 years ago. It was before we got married. And at that event, we left on a high. So, if it’d never been to a Tony Robbins event, if he’s starting to do them live again, highly recommend any business owner do it. I’ve done a ton of them. He has a business mastery one as well.

But that event, we left with more questions than answers. But one of the things that we learned there was the questions that you ask yourself are in direct proportion of the quality of your life. Meaning that the better … Or quality of your business. However you want to put after that. Right. So, the better questions you ask, the better answers you will receive. So, we started asking ourselves a lot of questions. Why do we do what we do? What do we want to do? Where do we want to end up? And when we left that event and bought a whole bunch of other events, but that’s when the word conscious started to come into focus for us.

So, we actually, her and I, started a podcast called The Conscious Living Podcast. We haven’t done that in a long time. But then I kind of mapped out this whole thing for The Conscious Builder and this conscious retreat, that we want to do a retreat down the road. And so, there’s lots of things in the works where you kind of just plant the seed in the universe and see what God will deliver to and what opportunities come your way. But that’s kind of when this started to come into play, and I started to think about the construction. What do I want to do with it? Obviously, I enjoy it. It’s what I’m good at.

And then, not too long after that, at another Tony Robbins event, we found out we were having our son. And well, we didn’t know he was a son at the time, but we found out we were having our son. And once that hit me, that was like, “All right. If I’m going to tell this person that he can be or do whatever he wants, then I have to lead by example, right. And if I want to leave this world a better place than it was when I showed up, what can I … how can I use my skills to make that happen?” And that’s when The Conscious Builder came into play, and we started to rebrand the company.

And that’s when we dove into not net-zero homes but passive homes. So, passive certified houses which is the extreme in terms of building. It’s one of the most rigorous building standards in the world. And we built our own certified passive house, and we learned a lot from that. And we’ve just been building off of that experience because, from that, everything else is easy to do. Like a net-zero home is a newer CHPA standard. But if you have the passive house education or done that, building a net-zero home is a piece of cake.

Zach Wojtowicz:

So, do you still build passive homes for your customers then or …

Casey Grey:

Yeah. They don’t come up too often, at least … I don’t know how familiar you are, your listeners are with passive home, but it’s really based on how much energy consumption. So, it’s like a certified passive house in California, for example, is almost like minimum building code here where we are.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Interesting.

Casey Grey:

But to do a certified passive home here, the least amount of insulation we’ve put into a wall assembly was our own house, just because we had good orientation was R-73 and a half, but we’ve gone up to R-90 in other houses that we’ve done. So, it is an extreme, and there’s a tipping point where it’s like, “Okay, well, how much? Does it make sense to go that much further?”

And there’s obviously an expense to getting the passive home certification because there’s a lot of people involved in making sure that you built it properly and actually get it certified. So, I do believe in the standard, but it doesn’t always make financial sense.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah.

Casey Grey:

Unless you’re going to use it like myself as a business, as a marketing thing. Right. So, I can talk about it and explain it, and it’s made us better as builders and my team better. But there’s beyond that. Unfortunately, the market, the appraisers, the banks, the realtors don’t see value in better built homes. They’re still looking at maybe triple-glazed windows are starting to see some value now.

But those don’t … they’re not really that expensive that much more than double glazed anymore. But they’re still focusing on all the pretty makeup stuff. Right. So, it’s definitely tricky. So, the net-zero seems to be a good middle ground where we live, where we’re still aiming for like passive levels … passive house. Sorry. There’s a difference between passive solar and a certified passive house.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I’m going to need a flow chart, man. I had no idea.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. This is very interesting.

Casey Grey:

But we’re still kind of like aiming for that air tightness because the idea is you want to make your home as airtight as possible and then ventilate it mechanically. Right. And put in a good HVAC system. So, we’re still navigating … Sorry.

That’s usually when we navigate through this with clients, that seems to be the best target because it’s not too extreme, but you still get the health, you still get the comfort, you still get the efficiency. So, you still get a lot of the benefits. But you don’t have to go to the extreme of like a double stud wall where we are or anything like that.

Charley Burtwistle:

How does that typically … I think that’s really interesting as you’re explaining this to Zach and I here, and then you mentioned you meeting with clients and things like that. Who typically leads that kind of arrangement when you’re designing the house on obviously everything that encompasses passive, everything encompasses net zero.

And do they typically come to you and say, “Here’s what I want,” or they give you kind of the reins to run with it and do what’s best for them? Because a lot of this, in the grand scheme of things, is still fairly new, and a lot of people may not know what the benefits are or why they want to build this type of way.

Casey Grey:

Yeah. So, that’s why we put out so much content is to help educate people. Right. Obviously, we educate other contractors as well. That’s what we’re building through The Conscious Builder Academy. But everything we do is custom. So, one of the reasons why I called it The Conscious Builder is because it’s not up to us to say what’s right or wrong. It’s up to us to give the clients the options, so that they can make decision that’s best for them because there are so many factors.

Sure. There are all sorts of products out there that are better for the environment. But usually, those products are a lot more expensive, too. Right. So, what’s most important to that individual, to the person that we’re building for? So, based on what’s important to them, we’ll make recommendations for the wall assembly or what products to use, and so forth. But at the end of the day, it’s not up to us.

We have some influence in terms of what we recommend, but they still make the final decision. We’re not building spec homes. We’re not saying like, “Here’s what we build, and that’s what you get. You have three options. Choose your options.” That’s not what we’re doing. Right. So, we’re kind of … A custom home, whether it’s passive house, or whether it’s net zero or anything. It’s expensive, right. A custom home is an expensive endeavor.

So, we’re not building for everybody, but we’re using the experience and the knowledge that we have to help teach other people, so that they can ask better questions once again when they go to buy their house. Right. So, they can go to their builder and ask for specific things. So, a lot of people who reach out to us have watched a lot of our videos. So, they come to us because of that. And then they’re asking us those questions. What’s going to work for them. And, “We want to work with you because of this,” or whatever it may be. And then we just work through the same process with them.

Zach Wojtowicz:

That’s super interesting that you bring up some of our legacy institutions that don’t see the value in it. And so, it kind of comes from the bottom and grassroots development of these net-zero process. So, I wonder how, over time, as that education spreads as climate change continues to kind of evolve and become more of a priority.

Like subsidies may introduced, or institutions will start putting in more banking programs to make these homes more affordable for the consumers because it’s just … We just had Bill Smithers on, and he talked about in the construction industry, how much waste there is. We were talking about inflation, and he’s like, “That’s nothing compared to just the waste that you walk on a job site of building, and then the house living off the grid long term just continues to be wasteful.” So, hats off to you …

Casey Grey:

Unfortunately …

Zach Wojtowicz:

Go ahead.

Casey Grey:

Yeah. Sorry. To add to that. Unfortunately, some of the climate change stuff is adding more cost, right, because we’re forcing people to do certain things. So, I don’t often talk about climate change with our clients. I think it’s too big of a picture. Personally, I’m not a professional.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Same.

Casey Grey:

I’ve studied the climate. I don’t know. I feel like there’s a lot more things. I’ve read quite a different … quite a few different articles on it and listened to interviews on it. I’m of the mind that there’s a lot of things that affect climate that we’re not aware of. It’s more than just one thing.

So, I don’t know how much of an impact doing what we’re doing like getting our fossil fuels. It depends on where that hour is generated from, right. But there’s also arguments about battery. So, I’m not going to say one way is good or bad because I don’t really know.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Right.

Casey Grey:

But I have questions.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah.

Casey Grey:

Right. So, if I have … I’ll talk to people, and hopefully, I start getting some people on the podcast to have these conversations with. So, where we really focus on is really for the house itself and the health, the comfort, the benefits to the homeowner. Because at the end of the day, you still want to build a healthy indoor air quality, like a healthy environment for people living in the house because we spend like 90% of our time inside. Right.

We don’t … Depending on where you live, could be more, could be less. But most of our time is spent indoors. Obviously, we live at home, and now most of us are working at home. But even before we were working at home, we would go from our vehicle, or sorry, from our house to a vehicle of some sort to a building of another sort back into that vehicle, back to our house.

We wouldn’t really spend that much time outside unless we were actively like going out jogging or exercising or playing sports or whatever it may be. And there’s very few people that actually spend a good portion, even when you go outside to play maybe a couple hours a day.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah.

Casey Grey:

Right. So, think about that. So, we really focus on, “Okay, what do we have to do?” By defaults, when you build a healthy and comfortable home, you build a more efficient home, which in turn helps everything else that people say it’s affecting the climate. Right.

So, that’s kind of where we’re at. And that’s where we find people can really connect is like, “Look. We’re going to build you that quality, so that your kids don’t have those asthma problems. So, you don’t have those allergies.” Obviously, once again, I can only do one aspect of it. Whatever you put into your body’s a different story. That’s going to affect all your health issues too. Right.

So, that’s something that my wife and I spend a lot of time on too is there’s so many things, right. We’re very complex. The world is very complex. And I think humans try to … By default, we try to simplify things …

Zach Wojtowicz:

Black and white.

Casey Grey:

… so we can understand it. And most things in nature are not like that.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. That makes a ton of sense. So, from your perspective then, are you getting more requests from customers about these sustainable? Are you still having to do a lot of the education to kind of even drive the point home of like why they should go about it? Or is it as simple as being like, “You’re going to have healthier lungs, and the interior is going to be a better environment for you in a long-term standpoint.”

Casey Grey:

Most people reach out to us because of how we set ourselves up.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah.

Casey Grey:

They’re already thinking that way. They might not know everything, but they might not understand the importance of an ERV, for example.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Right.

Casey Grey:

But they do want to make better decisions and make sure that they have a healthy home to live in. So, there is some education there, but they’re actively looking. And one of the ways that they’re educating themselves is by reaching out to us.

Charley Burtwistle:

That’s really cool. And so, one thing that we don’t really have on our question list here, but you made a comment of it earlier, educating people and all this stuff content-wise you’re doing was The Conscious Builder Academy. Is that something that’s kind of in the works, or what’s kind of your plan there? Is it to take the same education you’re doing for the client and bring it to your kind of peers and on the builder side of things?

Casey Grey:

Well, it’s a little bit different. So, the way we’ve set The Conscious Builder Academy, so if people want to check it out, just consciousbuilderacademy.com. We’re doing online courses, but we’re about to launch like a live group courses as well because we started doing some test courses or some test groups, and those seemed to be going well. We got some good feedback from the people who were on that. So, we had gifted that as a surprise to the people who had purchased our latest course, which is all about how to sell and market passive homes and other high-performance homes.

So, by doing that, we did these group calls, and they really liked it. And I find that what we’re missing out there is there’s a lot of education for bigger companies or for business. But what we’re designing this for is really for like myself 10, 15 years ago, to some extent, right. Like a young guy who wants to do well, that started his company, but didn’t … was too naive to actually know what’s involved with running a business, but still wants to build a better home as well. Right.

So, it could be for any trade person that gets involved. Because we’ll talk business, we’ll talk marketing, we’ll talk everything to do with business but also get into building science type stuff, too. And the plan would be to bring in other people. And we’re partnering now with a couple other companies that have been creating courses for like 10 years, 10 years plus, so that we can create some better online courses for people who do want to do that and kind of team up with other people.

So, there’s a lot that’s going to be happening there. And if anybody wants to check out the courses, we do have some free courses, but we do have a discount code for anybody listening here, too. If anybody wanted to go on and get those courses, it’s just BT15. So, you get 15% off in any of the courses that we already have up there. I think some of them are already on sale, too. So, you get a bonus.

Charley Burtwistle:

Wow. Love that. We will definitely make sure to …

Charley Burtwistle:

… to link that in the show notes and include the promo code there. That’s awesome. I know Zach was an onsite consultant for Buildertrend for a really, really long time. So, traveled all across the country, trying to …

Zach Wojtowicz:

And Canada.

Charley Burtwistle:

And Canada. Yeah. Connect … Yeah. In fact, you have some Canadian consulting.

Zach Wojtowicz:

That’s right.

Charley Burtwistle:

Breakthrough Academy, right?

Zach Wojtowicz:

Oh yeah. Breakthrough Academy.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. Yeah.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Those guys are doing awesome work. Charley loves a shownote drop. That’s why I looked at him because it’s like anytime someone brings up a shownote opportunity, I have zero hesitations that Charley’s going to take that one.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. That will be the next line out of my mouth for sure. But that’s awesome. I mean, maybe the million dollar question here and listening to you talk, I’m getting pretty fired up about it. Why would anyone not want to build this way? What’s the pushback that you’re still seeing in the industry? Is it strictly cost, or is it educational-wise people don’t know where to start? Or what do you see as kind of been the biggest drawback?

Casey Grey:

I think it’s a little bit … Cost is a part of it. But I think the bigger problem is really people just don’t know. Right. Because when you really want something, you find the money.

Charley Burtwistle:

Right.

Casey Grey:

You make it happen. Right. Like we don’t buy things because we need them. We buy things because we want them. What do we really need at the end? We need a roof over our head. We need fruits and vegetables, and we need water. Right. There’s a lot of stuff that we buy that we don’t need. So, when somebody really wants something, they’ll get it. And I think a lot of people just don’t know it, partly because they’re not interested. Right. Because they’re like, “Well, I just want a house that looks good.” And they don’t really understand the importance.

So, I really think it’s on builders to educate and to push the limit and to go beyond what’s required. Because at the end of the day, it is kind of somewhat driven by the consumer. But somebody has to show them. Right. I always think back to Henry Ford’s comment where he said, “If I gave people what they wanted, I would’ve given them faster horses. Right. They would just ask for faster horses.” But obviously, that wasn’t going to … that wasn’t the solution. So, how can we actually solve this?

And I always also think about another quote. Forget where I heard this. But when you go to a grocery store as a consumer, when you buy something, they track that. It’s very easy. Right. They buy it. They scan it. They know what you bought. They know how many people bought it. They know when it was bought. They know where they stored it in the store. Right. So, they know kind of what works. But every time you spend your money on something, that is essentially voting, right.

So, if you want more organic food, buy more organic food, and the grocery store will provide more of it. If you want better built homes or better products, then you have to go out and spend more money on better products. Right. So, that’s just how it works. So, as a consumer, we need to take responsibility to actually … We can make a difference by just deciding what we want to spend our money on. But as a builder, I think we have a responsibility to educate people as well because they just don’t know. And if people don’t know, they won’t ask for it.

Zach Wojtowicz:

It makes a ton of sense. I mean, it’s called innovation for a reason. Right. It’d still be riding on the old railroad if it weren’t for Mr. Henry Ford, for example.

Casey Grey:

The electric car was actually invented like back in the 1800s, by the way too. The issue was actually the battery of the storage.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Of course. Yeah. And then it seems like…

Casey Grey:

The electric car I’m pretty sure was invented …

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Well, and you think about, I’ve actually read some … The combustion engine has never really gone through any sort of massive, meaningful changes. They’re more efficient, but they’re not like, “We’re still using the same technology.” And when someone cracks that code, the battery storage. It seems like every day I read an article like, “Oh, battery breakthrough.”

And I’m like, I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop to be like, “We’ve got a thousand-mile battery that you can…” And then what happens, right? What happens to the industry? Just completely changes. Housing is kind of similar. Technology in the building process will continue to evolve, which I want to ask you about.

What do you think the future of eco-friendly looks like? What’s something you’re excited about? I was just kind of poking around your YouTube or, excuse me, your podcast, and you have 190 episodes, which I was like, “Wow.” Do you talk about that type of content on your podcast? Like new technology …

Casey Grey:

Yeah.

Zach Wojtowicz:

… coming down and things like that?

Casey Grey:

Yeah. It’s something I put a lot of thought into. And just in my position, I’m always kind of looking to the future and where things are going, right? As any good leader, you kind of have to anticipate where the market may be going. It’s easier said than done.

In construction, though, there’s kind of a couple things. It depends on what you’re looking at. One thing’s for sure is the renovation industry will continue to grow and grow and grow because there’s only so many houses that we can build. There’s only so much land.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yep.

Casey Grey:

So, there is never going to be a shortage of work. And I don’t know if there will be a great technology advancement for ripping an old house apart and putting it back together.

Zach Wojtowicz:

 A robot that does it or something.

Casey Grey:

… a robot.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. Same conclusion.

Casey Grey:

It’s going to have to be done by hand. I think new homes are different. There’s a lot of people doing prefab and modular building, which can make sense, but only within a certain diameter or within a certain circumference around kind of the center of where they’re building everything. Right. So, I think there’s some great companies doing that already. So, I think there’s a lot of potential in that. So, I do look at prefab.

I think 3D printing is going to have a major impact in the future on how we build houses if we can solve some of the like insulation. Like a lot of … There is 3D printing going out. They’ve been doing it. And I think it’s USC. The University of California have been doing it for probably 15 years now, right.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Wow.

Casey Grey:

But it’s more for like, “Print 10 houses really quick for like disaster relief type stuff.” So, they’re not really built that well in terms of like building science and health and comfort, that’s a different … There’s so many different aspects. So, I think there’s still a lot of ways that we can improve. In Canada, we still build with wood.

Obviously, we have an abundance of wood to some extent, as like sequestering carbon, right. Because the trees take in the carbon, and as long as you don’t burn them or anything like that, there’s good. So, I think a lot of that is good. So, I don’t know if there’s going to be a whole lot of change in that really quickly unless that 3D printing game comes in. What I tend to see is there’s a lot of technology.

So, I think what’s going to happen is like solar panels get better and better, batteries get better and better. So, you might be able to take a hundred-year-old house in the near future, put solar panels on and a battery and cut it from the grid and you’d be good to go. Right. But it doesn’t solve the health or the comfort issue.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah.

Casey Grey:

It solves the efficiency issue only. Right. So, once again, it’s only solving one aspect. But I think that’s probably where things are going to go. New communities will be built to be self-sufficient. Based on kind of the world I’m in and where I’m looking is, one thing that’s coming up a lot is a lot of people want to be self-sufficient, right. They want to be sovereign. So, they don’t want to have to rely on anything or anybody else for that matter. Right.

So, I see a lot less technology, like wireless technology that are like things are watching and listening to you, being put into houses and kind of going back to the basics. But still building really well-built homes because you have to in order to keep your energy consumption low, right.

And the less tech stuff you have going, the less energy you use, right. They’re not always running. And people going back to wanting to grow their own food and designing food forest around their neighborhood as opposed to trying to just build it in the middle of a city somewhere. Right. Everyone’s kind of going out, at least from what I’m seeing.

A lot of people, not everybody, but that’s, I think, been fast-forwarded because of what’s happened over the last couple years. And people realizing that they don’t have to be in a city or maybe the city isn’t the best place for them. So, I don’t know. It’s kind of not a solid answer and everything.

Zach Wojtowicz:

No, no, that’s …

Casey Grey:

There’s always going to be kind of two groups.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Right.

Casey Grey:

… people I find or a few different groups of people.

Zach Wojtowicz:

What popped in my head was not smart houses. Like we market smart house, not smart houses. “You have to live off the land,” and then people are like, “What? We’re going backwards.” But really, it’s like, time’s a flat circle. Even like you bring up prefab …

Charley Burtwistle:

Time’s a flat circle.

Zach Wojtowicz:

… prefab.

Casey Grey:

I think communities, small communities are coming back.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah.

Casey Grey:

Right. I think where I really see it is like I’m actually at … Right now, where I’m at is actually at my mother-in-law’s house right now. And she’s in a small community outside of Ottawa, and this community was booming like 60 years ago. Right. And I feel … And now, a lot of people are starting to move into it. You see a lot of younger families here now.

And I think over the next 10 years, we’re going to see a lot of these small communities start booming again because people … the bigger cities are not where people want to be. They want to be a part of something, but they don’t … You’re in a big city. You don’t often feel like you’re a part of something because it’s too big.

But when you’re in a small community, you can make meaningful connections. You can easily do a community garden. You can help each other. When somebody loses power, you can support all of that. Right. It’s a lot easier. You can actually have a lot of impact on how that community grows if you get involved with that community. Right. So, it can be a lot more meaningful.

There’s a mural here in Chesterville, and in the center of the mural is my wife’s grandfather on the back of a sleigh because he was so involved with this community before he passed away a little while ago now. But he was so involved with the community that they’re going to remember him because of that. Right. Eventually, that mural will probably be redone at some point.

But that’s where I think things are going is that’s the bigger change I see happening is smaller communities being built, where people are actually a part of something and don’t have to necessarily travel too far but can really have an impact.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. It’s funny. The time is a flat circle and going backwards and things like that. I grew up in a town of 300 people, and I was actually back this weekend, and I kept thinking like, “Man, I just don’t want to come back to Omaha.” It’s not like Omaha’s …

Zach Wojtowicz:

That was sprawling metropolis of the suburbs of Omaha.

Charley Burtwistle:

But it’s right. It’s the little things like that makes and make a place feel like home. So, that’s a really, really cool perspective.

Casey Grey:

There’s a really good book, has nothing to do with construction. But if you’re interested in understanding … There’s actually two. Ray Dalio’s new book, Principles of The World … What is it? Totally drawing a blank of the title. Search Ray Dalio’s newest book. It’s on the changing world essentially. And he’s went back 500 years and study the rise and fall of empires, so that’s what the book’s about.

But there’s another book called The Fourth Turning, which was written, I think, about 30 years ago. One of the authors passed away. The other author was recently interviewed by Tony Robbins. Still live. They predicted the pandemic in their book when they wrote it. They knew that there was going to be a health crisis. And based on their theory of every … basically generation cycling. There’s like four … Every four generations it kind of restarts because history. That’s why our history repeats itself.

Charley Burtwistle:

Right.

Casey Grey:

Is because we kind of learn from our grandparents maybe at like as far back. And most of us don’t study history. Right. So, then it just kind of … It’s a cycle and just keeps going. And not the same exact thing, but the same events, type of events, and the way kids are raised, and why we connect maybe more with their grandparents than our parents. And anyways. It’s really interesting book. Highly recommend it. You can even just read their stuff on the website and get a lot that you don’t even need from the book.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I love it, Casey. Well, we’re out of time. But thank you so much for joining. Great conversations about your business, about your perspective on green homes, and also, hey, we’re getting to some other topics. That’s super interesting. So thank you for your time.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. This was awesome. Thanks, Casey.

Casey Grey:

Yeah. Appreciate it.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Make sure …

Casey Grey:

Thanks guys.

Zach Wojtowicz:

For our listeners, check out Casey’s website, theconsciousbuilder.com. He’s got a blog. He’s got The Conscious Builder Show, the YouTube channel. Tons of great content, lots of education. So, we’ll check it out. Thanks, Casey.

Woo boy. That was amazing. We just had Casey Grey from The Conscious Builder on “The Building Code,” and man, that was … I’m fired up right now.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, that was a very motivational one. Since you didn’t ask me the question, I’m going to take the opportunity here, Zach. What’d you think?

Zach Wojtowicz:

Oh wow. Wow. I said last time we should be mixing it up, and here we are. You’re putting me on the spot. It’s such a … the secrets of the show. It’s easy for me to ask you because I’m just like digesting the interview. No, I thought, I thought Casey had a lot of great perspective. I’m always just in an admiration of our builders that come on.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah.

Zach Wojtowicz:

These absolute professionals who have the entrepreneurial spirit. I mean, he is a kid who wanted to do construction, worked at a few places, decided to start a business with his wife. Now, he employs this whole family. It just always really makes me feel like I have a chance.

But in reality, it’s a really smart business proposition, a way to separate yourself in the market.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah.

Zach Wojtowicz:

About what you’re offering. And I really liked what he said, “It’s like my job to educate and let customers make their choices about what they want to do.” So, I think it really opens up this kind of like dynamic with your customer. You’re working with them. You’re helping them be better citizens and stewards of their community.

And we got into some really cool conversations about the future of green technology and net-zero homes and kind of the way that things are kind of circling around and kind of getting back to that more organic, true community feel. And I really enjoyed that perspective from Casey.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. I liked he made a couple of comments just like life is complicated. Humans are complicated. Control what you can control.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Get out of here with your nuances.

Charley Burtwistle:

And do it really, really well.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Black and white.

Charley Burtwistle:

So, I feel like he’s done a fantastic job of finding his vertical and just focusing solely on that and accelerating it. And I think we’re going to see a lot of really, really exciting things come out of Casey and The Conscious Builder over the coming years.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. I will definitely be checking out his podcast. There’s a lot of awesome episodes where they cover some things that, honestly, I want to know more about. So, check out his podcast, The Conscious Builder Show, as well as checking out his website, theconsciousbuilder.com. He’s got a blog. Check out his YouTube channel.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah. Because I think that’ll do it for us here at “The Building Code.” I’m Charley Burtwistle.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I’m Zach Wojtowicz.

Charley Burtwistle:

And we’ll see you next time.

Casey Grey Headshot

Casey Grey | The Conscious Builder


Places You Can find us

Get updates for The Building Code

Be the first to know when new episodes are released.

"*" indicates required fields

By clicking ‘Submit’ you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions Agreement and Privacy Policy.
Return to top