Claremont company proves green building can be both efficient and affordable
By Jim Cavan
Despite a still fragile housing market, the growth of the "green home" industry in the last few years has remained strong, particularly here in New England. In fact, industry research firm McGraw-Hill Construction predicts green buildings will represent 20-25 percent of new commercial and institutional construction projects nationwide by 2013, compared to between 10 and 12 percent today. Still, what about the issue of cost? Without a doubt the major hindrance for people looking to build new, energy efficient homes is that they can often run up to 15% more to construct. And while the case can certainly be made that the money "lost" up front can in all likelihood be "gained" down the road -- through more efficient insulation, appliances, etc. -- in these uncertain economic times, people want to know how they can save money today. But one New Hampshire company is looking beyond this false choice between investing now to save later, offering homes that are not only greener and more efficient, but more affordable and customizable as well. Preferred Building Systems (PBS) is a Claremont, New Hampshire construction firm specializing in affordable modular homes that are built green and built to last. A division of Granite State staple LaValley Building Supply, which also owns Dover and Hampton-based Middleton Building Supply, PBS was launched in 2006. After taking over the old Holson-Burnes Photo Album factory in Claremont, the company retooled the facility to manufacture their custom energy efficient modular homes. Since then the company has constructed over 300 homes throughout New England, along the way working extensively with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), as well as with the Green Building Council (GBC) and EnergyStar in an effort to stay abreast of the latest developments and recommendations in efficient home building. For Jeffrey Michaud, of sales and promotions for PBS, such commitments to sustainable building have been a part of the company's ethos from the very beginning. "When Harold Lavalley formed the company, their main objective was to have a company that could build affordably, efficiently, and durably," says Michaud. "But what we really want to impart on everyone is that their homes can be all three of these things, and also be custom built to their specifications at the same time. So really you're getting four things in one." According to Michaud, to date Preferred Builders has yet to construct a home based purely on the company's myriad model options; in fact, every single one of the company's 300-plus homes to date have been custom-built and totally unique. But for as one-of-a-kind as each home has been, one thing unites them all: efficiency. One of the headers on the company's website sums up this commitment: it reads "What is Your Home's Fuel Mileage?" In short, the folks at Preferred Building want you to think about running your home with the same eye for savings and "mileage" that more Americans are using to evaluate their cars and trucks. According to the company's website, PBS homes can be up to 41% more efficient than the standard. Part of the PBS dedication to efficient building involves unique approaches to construction. Instead of building the home from the ground floor up, the team at PBS starts with the drywall, laying down each sheet individually to assure precision, quality, and a more efficient "envelope" for the home. Inside the walls, PBS uses the state-of-the-art -- and totally green -- Nu-Wool insulation, which is made from 100% recycled paper. As part of their unique partnership with PBS, Nu-Wool even provides the new homeowners a 5 year warranty guaranteeing no efficiency drop-off . In addition, all of the wooden studs used are 100 percent recycled, further enhancing each home's green cred. The homes are not only greener and more efficient; they're healthier too, with precise air-sealing reducing the possibility of unwanted moisture from entering the building components and causing mold and mildew. Like their LaValley partners Middleton Building Supply -- who recently joined the Seacoast-base Green Alliance, a local "green business union" -- PBS is changing the face of home construction and improvement, showing how "going green" can actually save you green, not just down the road, but right up front. "I've worked for both LaValley and PBS, and what they've done together and what we're now producing is really phenomenal," explains Michaud. "But the great thing about is that we're starting with a plan that customer's can customize any way they want, without losing a bit of efficiency or quality. That's what I think is what really sets us apart." To date PBS has built homes in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. For more information about Preferred Building Systems and the LaValley family of companies, including Middleton Building Supply, visit www.preferredbuildings.com. For more information about the Green Alliance, go to www.greenalliance.biz.
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