GETTING TO THE GUY
WHO WRITES THE CHECKS
HOW DO WE GET TO substantial
energy and water efficiency? Do we
force it with laws and regulations or
should we just sell it?
Recently we met with friends of
Green Mechanical Contractor and, so
as to not be partisan, I’ll just say they
are in the pump business. Our friends
have a couple di;erent takes on energy
efficiency and laws and regulations.
Because they sell products in Europe,
They see the practicality and, sometimes,
the necessity of international standards. As
one of our friends pointed out, most people in
the United States would not have switched to
1.6-gpf toilets voluntarily. It required a change
in the law.
Another example is minimum SEER ratings for residential air conditioning, which
served several purposes. ;e main object was
to save energy but, just as important, it created
certainty for manufacturers who wouldn’t
have to deal with differing state standards.
Like 1.6-gpf toilets, a 13.0 SEER efficiency
rating for residential air conditioning forced homeowners to
buy units that save energy rather than buy the cheapest thing
Minimum standards also creep in through the codes, such
as the constant sti;ening of the American Society of Heating,
Refrigerating & Air-conditioning Engineers Standard 90.1, or
the International Code Council’s International Green Construction Code or the International Association of Plumbing
& Mechanical Officials Green Code Supplement. At some
point, some jurisdictions will pick up these codes and standards and incorporate them into the local building codes.
We get a certain amount of pushback here that runs along
the lines of, “Nobody will ever pay for that.” Minimum standards make them pay for that.
;ere’s still a lot of resistance out there, much of it coming
from a few lawmakers. Plain-speaking homebuilder Ron Jones
recently trashed Congress’, “tantrum de jour, H.R. 2417, AKA
the infamous ‘Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act,’ a childish, snotty and (frankly) not-so-bright piece of misbehavior
which has manifested itself into a proposed congressional act
calling for the repeal of light bulb energy standards that are
part of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA),
which was passed by Congress and signed into law by Presi-
dent Bush in 2007.”
I’m usually pretty tough on homebuilders because they
o;en mistreat my readers, but I love Ron Jones. Ron Jones
is the co-founder and president of Green Builder Media and
he’s not afraid to go a;er what he calls the ranchers of sacred
cows, including fellow homebuilders and the National Asso-
ciation of Home Builders.
Jones’ brilliant post, “Introducing the BUTT Act,” which
stands for Better Use of Time and Talent, can be read at www.
greenbuildermag.com or at
It’s an entirely di;erent question, however,
to get consumers to pay for the highest e;ciency cooling, around 26.0 SEER, or 1.0- or
1.28-gpf high e;ciency toilets. ;en there’s
the expensive stuff, like geothermal heat
pumps and solar. ;at requires some selling
skill. We believe that even the most expensive water and energy-saving products can be
sold through methods such as Pennsylvania
contractor Dave Yates’ Energy Conservation
Value formula. You can find out how Dave
sells high-end equipment by reading his April
2011 column at
But, getting back to our friends the pump
manufacturers, they’ve had great success in
the commercial/institutional market where they can talk
directly to the buyers. “You have to get to the guy writing the
check,” they say. If they get to whoever is running the military
installation for the Department of Defense or to the university
facilities manager or to the guy running the treatment plants
for the water utility, they can show that their really expensive
pump saves a really colossal amount of electricity.
Energy conservation becomes attractive in a free market
because the results can be shown in dollars and cents.
What do you think is the path to increased energy and
water e;ciency? Is it laws and regulations or an open market
where practitioners convince customers that e;ciency pays
dividends? I want to hear your opinions. Email me at robert.
a free market
results can be
shown in dollars