Strategic design and financial development for individual projects, large developments anywhere in the world.

Why Should Solar PV Be the Last to Be Installed?

Posted: February 23rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: energy policy | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

DSC_0112Solar PV Should Not Be Installed Until….

If one was to add up the usual culprits for an energy bill, it’s always best to start with the worst, largest abusers? Not just the largest, but also with ones that bring real comfort and safety home? We certainly spend more time under our roof than in our cars, but we spend A LOT more on cars just for looks, status, and performance. These days, cars under $20,000 are just as good as higher end models except for a few perks. But who really needs to get to 60 miles an hour one or two seconds faster for $20,000 to $100,000 more? None of us!

The same is not true for houses—your investment matters. As one of my clients said when confronted with the choice, “I’d rather make my house nice and comfortable than get a fancy car for the next few years.” One easily saves $30,000 to $100,000 dollars in ten years by improving a house’s efficiency.So when one buys a house, let’s say at the age of 35 and stays there until retirement, there is a $100,000 to $300,000 difference in savings and if one plugs that money to paying capital in mortgage, one doubles that. I would like anyone to show the same kind of return on capital in the stock market!

Unfortunately, the current thoughts around house design are much like cars, where no one makes real money making really smart simple lightweight cars, only complicated ones with a steady stream of expensive spare parts and labor pay off dividends – again at our wallet’s expense. It’s the same with buildings, as contractors and people supplying services are the ones making a living with hard-earned income.Highly efficient buildings are healthy, comfortable, easy, and economical to maintain, as there are hardly any parts to go wrong or wear out. The good news is that by addressing some basic aspects of our homes, we can change this equation in a way that’s good for our wallets and for the environment.

Our most demanding requirements are cooling and heating, and both can be eliminated by permanent simple generous economical insulation. Starting with the roof by raising it to between R = 60 to 80,80 preferable in New York or further north, but even in the south for cooling highly insulated roofs make even more sense.

High efficiency R = 10 windows or more are equally important, but so few professional even know about them. and they have been around for more than two decades! I personally had them in my previous house since 1995, and in the next one. the design is based on the availability of them. Even in the winter months, being able to sit next to a picture window without feeling a chill is like driving a luxury car for free. With great walls and the right roof, one can eliminate 90% of heating and cooling, and ALWAYS have your home at 72 degree 24/7 without having to pay for it.

By switching to LED, one saves 85 % of a major part of the rest of household power requirements, and for real, avoid the fluorescent fixtures, as they have such a poor color rendering making everything gloomy.

Hot water is another area where for some reason energy companies are so entrenched in avoiding good solutions – like solar hot water and geothermal pre heat. Hot water is truly the major component in utility costs, as we all have daily showers and use several gallons of the precious heated material. Just think how long it takes to boil a pot of water and multiply this several times, and then the number of members in the family. Tanks are rarely even insulated to meet code minimum. And the code as we know it is itself a minimum, not what smart professionals should request to best meet their clients’ needs.

If one has geothermal wells installed, it’s good to have a well water line included at the same time. This way, one will not lose the garden that one might have spent years caring and designing during long dry spells, as solar PV will pump water when needed in an emergency too.

New induction ovens and cook tops are fantastically better than anything out there, and don’t have the oxygen-grabbing feature that gas stoves (or old type fireplaces) have, which need huge amounts of fresh air to be safely used. The cool gourmet gas stoves need a large window open to get enough oxygen to operate properly. Good luck trying to find that fact in the brochure for the stove!

DSC_0147-smRefrigerators are bit of a joke even today, and it’s hard to find one that could be called ‘efficient’. The market is so driven by the cost and the thinness of the wall to maximize the interior space that our energy bills (and wallets) are barely considered.

Once we have done all of the above, our electrical needs can be reduced 90%, and with solar panels, we can be totally grid free and able to operate when powerful storms ravage our power grids for days or weeks at a time.Even better, in winter storms, a small wood burning fireplace guarantees total comfort even in blackouts. My clients and I can testify to that! You can’t put a price on not having to find a hotel when thousands of others are doing the same, to not worrying about bursting pipes, or losing your frozen food during summer brownouts.

Grid Lock in the Capitol Hill – How Expensive Is It to Tax Payers in US?

We architects are a strange breed, as we are as qualified as doctors in terms of education, but we are not able to prescribe medicine with efficiency like doctors do.

Since the 1970’s oil crisis, there has been a minimal understanding of how to make our country a smarter place. We applaud the fine stock market evaluations of the software based institutions in Silicon Valley, California, but rarely look at the BIG picture. Our media is much more like Low Fat Milk these days where serious analysis is treated like a heart clogging fat, to be avoided at all costs. And since the media is so spread out between different platforms, there is simply no focus or common thread. The loudest sound bite rules for the next few seconds.

I wrote about many of these issues in the One Trillion Dollar Waste a Year blog in Fall 2014 celebrating my 50th year since wanting to become an architect, so I will not repeat some of the issues laid out. Instead, I’d like to discuss the broader framework in which these problems play out. When assessing the health of our country, the deficit and banking crises should be at least secondary to primary threats, like energy insecurity and environmental damage. But we seem not to have suffered enough to have common sense. Europe took two major world wars to find religion. The fact that we pay 1/2 the cost of the oil in comparison to rest of the world has lulled us to keep living the ‘American Dream’ and this shell oil is more like an Indian summer day in duration before we are truly stuck with the rest of the world’s REAL WORLD difficulties.

Ask what happens to the economy if you double oil price from 4 dollars a gallon and double the heating and cooling bill in one’s house – PLUS the related increase in food costs due to the same increase in processing costs. That is the WALL that we’ll face in about a decade and are we prepared? No IPAD or GOOGLE stock evaluation will help us there. We’re doomed.

Banking used to be for supporting industries that actually MADE things that could be sold. If one looks at the Fortune 500 listing, one begins to find industries in making things somewhere between 400 and 500, so the first 400 is reserved for service based and similar companies.

There should be a way to reward directions that are BETTER for your overall healthiness as country, as a whole than what we are doing. The example of trillion dollar loss a year in energy waste is just one aspect. There are more, but in Capitol Hill, the game is power and helping our (each Senator’s and Congressman’s) local constituents.

Just as an example, why do we need medical insurance companies that actually are sometimes more painful than the disease itself when trying to solve treatment options as to what is covered and what is not? A cap is important in anything, and if the individual can, let them pay more out of their own pocket. Medical costs cannot grow with current rate any more than building simply stupid buildings or driving cars that they claim to be good mileage cars when the speed limit is 30 MPH instead of closer to 100 MPH. That’s what we should be having by now. What do you think?


Tapani Talo, AIA


New York , USA  Tel: 1- 914 – 645 2940,

Email, –


An Architect’s Profession: Career and Value to Society

Posted: March 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: architecture | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Frank Lloyd WrightWE admire beauty, to the extent that we admire even F.L. Wright, whose buildings often reached 10 or 20 times their original budget. We architects working today cannot even add 7% to the building budget that would make it totally passive, green and over a lifetime produce enormous savings and comfort to the owners.

What’s the most precious thing in life – beyond personal health?



Heat (in winter)



Power/fuel (no food, water, movement, heat or communication without these)

In all these categories, architects and planners have enormous possibilities to make things either perfect, safe and near everlasting. If we keep doing what we have been doing, itmeans the end of the world. There is no other profession that can shape the world for the better. Yet people think of us as? what exactly?


Near USELESS, that’s what. This isbased on the fact that we are not able to do anything to make the world more peaceful, use water more efficiently, build buildings that do not need heat or cooling and could provide even sustenance and power – nearly for free. Peace is easy if most people have what they need in life, and if we do not waste, more people would have what they need.

Couture or Start architects are barely surviving these days. Half of our professionals from 2005 are no longer in architecture.

Yet in every developed nation, buildings alone in general use most of the energy, bleeding our scarce resources into WHAT – outdated utility companies and energy production? No one seems to know that a TRILLION in a year is unsustainable in the long run, even for the wealthiest nation in the world. It cost about 6 trillion to do the 10 year war in Iraq (and the same for Afghanistan), and that was considered HUGE and unsustainable.

If architects’ and professional salaries and fees – along with respect for real professional ability to do good and green – were respected, we could fix this issue in a reasonable time frame, and stop focusing building fancy bubble gum (high tech, one of a kind, difficult to maintain) architecture (in fashion these days in order to stay in the news).

Naturally, only if the incentives from our government would make it financially viable to provide the extra 7% in cost to make buildings (and efficient transportation) 90% to 95% more energy efficient for the developers.

This 7% would make nuclear power stations obsolete and many conventional ones too. As a nation, we would save a trillion dollars a year in today’s money…and the little power to live from can come from solar and wind nearby. And in buildings that can operate without a grid, it makes business possible even with outages.

Professional planning / zoning would help to provide local substance, but who seems to care as we shop at ease in our super markets with enormous parking lots around them.

So why is it that the only profession that could make FREE money in trillions a year, that is trained and works as hard as doctors, gets paid a fraction and has no respect or proper use these days?

It started in the 70’s when lawyers took away fees that were based on job difficulty, and replaced it with competitive bidding. First, we lost the ability to train which meant that continuity and office experience was lost as soon as people moved on or were laid off. Then came computerization that temporarily allowed efficiencies, and thus survival for few years. Then came overseas drafting to cut cost in China and India. Then recessions, and so we were left with a skeleton crew of offices that have started to collapse into a  few ‘collectives’. What is next in store? Neither architecture schools nor industries have yet to wake up for the national or global) security dilemma. Only extreme effort can save us now, by being totally GREEN beyond our wildest imaginations.

Any nation that depends on long fragile power and food supply as we are now) cannot enter a world conflict, and yet the general view is that the world with its hunger for endless resources will sooner (possibly within a decade) again go through the unthinkable (WAR) due to stresses in energy and raw materials, geo politics, coupled with growing number of people in our little fragile planet.

We have seen in New Orleans and NYC what happens when power is no longer available. To see the whole nation / continents in this state of affairs is catastrophic and yes, very biblical. Even green passive structures and healthier ways of producing food and conserving water cannot completely save us, but they do buy time to rebuild and survive…for some, but certainly not for all.


Tapani Talo, AIA

 11 Heatherbloom Road, White Plains, New York 10605, USA. Tel: 1- 914 – 645 2940,


Shale = Shame

Posted: January 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: energy policy | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

As New York City’s premier green architectural firm, we are very concerned about energy use in the country. In order to save our children and planet, we must undergo a 90% improvement in energy use. That way, we would save 5.4 trillion a year with CURRENT energy prices in US spending. However, because of shale discovery, we have once again turned away of   effective programs to change or habits in resource usage . If we follow on the path we’re currently on, improvement is completely out of the question and destruction glaringly apparent.

green architecture

Around 2006, we saw a nice increase in oil prices, continuing to 2008 and then it finally hit us: we thought of conservation, energy savings the smarter way. Now, it seems that we are above it all! However, despite this aspect, our consumption is normal, and no one seems to think of why we use 90% or more energy than the current state of the art thinking and technology would require. Shale fog, optimism, andeuphoria. What do our children use after shale is gone? We are burning through it like never before – in cars, houses and factories.

This last resource of easy energy should have been a reserve for our kids, not a fun filled ‘keep doing the old thing – and be a gas guzzler’ thing. EACH of us in US uses 312 million British thermal units (Btu) in a year (1,000,000 BTU is 293 kW-hrs. At 20¢ per, that is $59×319 million per person =18.000 dollars a year). $18000 x 319 million persons = 6000 billion = 6 trillion a year – so 90% improvement would be 5.4 trillion savings!

Nevertheless, the federal government spends less than $5 billion a year on energy research and development, not counting one-time stimulus projects. About $30 billion is spent annually on health research and more than $80 billion on military R & D – wars that kill and destroy even more than we can imagine – the entire planet.

Like in medicine, prevention has no money in it, so we do not promote effective prevention, but spend $8.200 a year per person. All the current ENERGY SAVING programs that we are doing – like NYSEDRA is on average 20% improvement, but with same amount  of thinking, we can do a 90% improvement.

All the wars in the past have been about resources, to have more or to just have enough. The next one will be no different, with the planet doubling the population in mid century. By adding 7% to each project, we would indeed save 90% on energy and related resources, and that would really help the people, air, global warming, and resouces – and create a safer politically motivated world.

There are only 314 million of us, but right now, 2 billion harder working competitors out there in the world. They are likely the ones to call the shots soon enough. Information is a click away for them too. No more boundaries for us or other developed nations to stay in our cozy ivory tower.

If architecture – or architects – were educated, supported by proper incentives and used properly, 3/4 of the energy usage would be eliminated. We might even be called professional, and paid a living professional wage.

If you have any questions about this, or any of our wonderful, energy-efficient projects, contact NY Super Studio Architects today.

Tapani Talo, AIA

Reimagining America’s Buildings Starts at the University Level

Posted: December 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: green building | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

As one of the premier zero energy architectural firms in the country, we know a thing or two about good long-term buildings at NY Super Studio Architects. Unfortunately, most of the country doesn’t follow this mindset and it all starts with the Universities in this country.

MIT, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other universities – as a reflection of our society – cradles the USA’s complacency integrating healthy attitude to competitiveness.

If one would paint a picture of USA by walking through our universities, it would be very hard to believe that we are in 21st century; the setting is far too antiquated in look and feel.

Yet all the buildings are used by the Universities 24/7 for what seems like the foreseeable eternity. There are no buildings that are 100% passive (or even 90%) and capable of being used without external power source, WHICH is very easy to do with our current knowledge. Why aren’t we then?

Thus, we train our best to think that this Colonial 1932 or older aesthetic is the norm, and the fashionable ‘cool’ thing to do. A perfect example of those 1930 colonial look (and feel) buildings that operate alike is Scarsdale in Westchester, NY.

Scarsdale is amongst the wealthiest towns in USA, just as our Ivy League Universities are. Building review boards often want that 1932 Colonial look, because it is the ‘safe’ look for property values and neighborhood character. The idea that architects could do something contemporary and good is NOT EVEN CONTEMPLATED. In Scarsdale, it is impossible to do smart buildings either; it’s all about the look and square foot amount. Even solar panels are considered eyesores. Skylights in the deep (in plain dimension) Mac Mansions would make the interiors little lighter and happier without constant lights. Unfortunately, they are forbidden too. Construction follows the cheapest norm, and as an average new home sells around 3 million, a smart PASSIVE construction would barely register in cost, nor would it change the look in any of them. So, what is the problem here?

In my recent visit to all of these Ivy League campuses, I felt embarrassment just looking at the buildings as well as the architecture schools products. All surface and style in student presentations, and in none did I see buildings that were attempting to be GOOD long term buildings filled with sensible views and light using latest R-13 and R-20 glass. Building construction was always esoteric, and my colleges and I could never hire a student from an American University without totally retraining them. To be expected, that is an expensive proposition in today’s climate where fees are cut to the bone in buildings that are normally extremely tightly budgeted.

If Universities cannot or are unwilling to invest in GOOD buildings, how do we expect the rest of the country to do so? I mean, with all the complexities of developers needing instant return on capital, getting no aid to do passive and green for the good of our country and simply not giving a damn about the fact that the tenant will be paying for the lousy short-sighted old fashioned office/apartment building ((which translates to the entire US economy), the country will never invest in GOOD buildings. They simply cannot AFFORD to be sensible. Our society still does not believe in the fact that we are running out of cheap energy and that completion around the world is turning us into dust.

Hurricane Sandy showed us in NYC that when the power is out, we are too. Nobody climbs 70 floors to an unheated office, nor do people live in the 70th floor that has no heat, water or other services. This is a gigantic problem that we have to deal with now. The sooner, the better. However, even without such an environmental conflict, when energy costs double from present (and they will), it will create a political situation that WILL lead to a BIG and GLOBAL war. Then a Sandy-like scenario will happen over all over the developed world. We’re not ready for this. None of us is. We could have been if we had listened Jimmy Carter.

If you have any questions regarding NYC architecture or construction, or curious about zero energy architecture, contact NY Super Studio Architects today! Project by project, we will help build up this nation in a POSITIVE and GREEN way.

Tapani Talo, AIA

DOE, Energy Waste, Taxes and Average American Pocket Book – Now and In Long Term

Posted: December 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: architecture, green building, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

50 years ago John F. Kennedy said: Don’t think what government can do to you, but what you can do for your country – to save our children’s future. This kind of thinking fuels green architecture and planning, especially in and around New York City. NY Super Studio Architects lives by such a philosophy. If only other institutions did the same, such as the DOE (Department of Energy).

If DOE would change its front page for residential (On the commercial built environment side, the same applies ) recommendation to match 2013 knowledge and capabilities, our nation would be on the way to save Trillion dollars a year avoiding wasted energy alone. Plus avoid a catastrophic set of climate and geopolitical events that are gathering pace within a decade.

But that’s not all.

  1. Each of us would earn more than our general life time earnings by cutting mortgage payments as we know it! Most of the cost of our purchase price goes to interest. If energy savings income is funneled to paying principal, ones saves the amount of mortgage in 20 years. No that is REAL income towards retirement. Not only income but being able to live in an incredibly comfortable house or office building that can operate without the grid power when done right.
  2. Our military presence in many parts of the world is based on our energy on our energy insecurity. It is lot cheaper to make our own country operate smartly and better, as then we are not creating more enemies by playing shifting political games around the world.
  3. Maybe Universities would produce students that understood that focusing on Wall Street careers only will ‘burn this earth’ and if actually living smartly and making money at the same time would save them…and their children.

On the residential AND commercial sector we ask builders and developers to build cheaply, but WE (the people) are the ones who pay each day, month and year enormous wasted utility costs, TAXED BY the building owners for supplying it, much like banks charge us for CREDIT cards. By and large we STILL build largely the way it would have been state of the art BEFORE the oil embargo 1973. This isn’t very green, isn’t it? Nor is it very smart!

We complain about taxes and big government, but if most of us understood how much each of us would save if our bright government agencies hired the best brains AND allow them to do what is done in other countries. For instance, NOAA’s chief scientist and head of the Earth Space Research Lab, Dr. Sandy MacDonald – has made it possible through a five-year project to save our country from an energy crisis by making our power network 93% efficient with mere 150 billion. This allows us to connect not only existing power providers, but also wind and solar power ACROSS the country anywhere. This – if implemented – could almost reverse our planetary carbon increase in the atmosphere (particularly if China did the same). This would give us time to implement 90% reduction in energy losses in buildings (and hopefully in transportation too).

Somehow we trust corporate leaders, with a grain of salt, banking leaders bit less as we have paid ENORMOUS taxes to bail them out. WE have more universities than any other country, but we don’t seem to be able to teach common sense and how to make smart collective decisions. In numerous historical phases in the past, one thing stands out: we either pull the same rope (think what is good and smart bottom line in LONG term for the country) or perish. Particularly in the USA, each state, city and school district seem to have a different agenda and pulling a DIFFERENT ROPE.

50 years ago John F. Kennedy said: Don’t think what government can do to you, but what you can do for your country. As a people, we must embrace that ideology once again. If green architects can do it, why can’t the nation as a whole?

For more information on this topic, the below books are a good place to start.

If you have any questions regarding NYC architecture or construction, or curious about zero energy architecture, contact NY Super Studio Architects today!

Tapani Talo, AIA

Beautiful Minds to Foster Green Thinking (Saving a Trillion a Year on Resources Alone if Implemented)

Posted: July 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: architecture | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Today 7-29-2011 – NY Times: The news comes as Congress is debating how to put the nation on a more sustainable fiscal path, with measures that some economists worry could further slow the recovery and even throw the economy back into recession.

Since our Government, House and Senate are not able to pull away from their sources of re-election (established industries rather than new smart ones), and allow us to do what we can do – what about…

Google, Facebook and LinkedIn?

The use of online tools and social networks could help show our nation some real spirit by supporting little extra cost in the creation of a couple of sample projects. We need to have building departments, builders, architects, engineers, and clients all aboard without them feeling like they are constantly pioneers in a Green Movement that has actually been with us for FOUR DECADES.

Look at the ‘green’ houses in the South — the houses in the North. Look at the small office buildings (or buildings similar in scope like small educational buildings or health centers) in both climates.

We need this innovation to be shown to our entire nation and since companies like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn have the databases, we would be able to access and share this sort of material and samples from anywhere in the world.

Engineers like Ove Arup showed us in the Sidney Opera House in Australia first what an excellent humanitarian curious mind can do, and now they are the largest engineering firm in the world; not just in structures but in all kinds of well-meaning aspects, including Green.

I met Ove Arup in the 1980’s when he was an elderly man. He gave me his own version of a Chess Game he had designed. The mind never stops! He was very proud of a bridge that had noise and rain reduced for pedestrians crossing the river. His staff has been a similar delight to work with throughout my career on issues that almost no one else is willing to tackle.

Fritz Gartner, an engineer near Munich, has produced in his factory the most beautiful curtain wall solutions that, lately, are competitively priced if one (owner) thinks beyond ten years of operation. I had proposed one of his economical solutions for UN HQ, but the architects following Arup and my own firm NY Super Studio Architects had to tackle the ever so cumbersome UN bidding and building process, and could not apply any sensible solutions.

Standing in Gartner’s factory, it makes one wonder why more curtain wall producers cannot expand their vocabulary in the same way. Sheer beauty and elegance is so breathtaking.

So, hopefully we will get some beautiful minds together this year and steer our economy to a brighter, happier future. Our goal should be no imported oil – PERIOD.

Tapani Talo, AIA

The buildings in the following pictures have zero energy considerations, and could not be recommended to anyone these days. Stone and concrete conduct heat and cold like electricity in copper. No shading provided where it counts, outside.


Princeton- Main Area

Princeton Gwathmey

Princeton Architecture School

Build a Green ‘Fun House’ and Save Half a Million on the Way

Posted: July 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: green building | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The Greenest House in Westchester this Year - 6 weeks from completion

Normally we see so-called Green Building with either very High Tech form or an otherwise engineered appearance that yells much too loudly “I am efficient”…

The Brave Couple who are about to finish building the Greenest House in Westchester, NY in August, are nearing completion on a total Fun House, made for enjoying life with full Green Credentials.

The house is a stylistically timeless American Shingle style but could have just as well been a New Glass House like the Philip Johnson one, if there had been a different budget, updated technology for glass and other features, and a location that accepts modernism). The Master bedroom ceiling has an open working loft for their own use and reaches 29 feet. They luxuriate in an open soaring space that overlooks a wonderful distant view, which is rare in suburban lots in general.

We started two years ago on this very modest and rickety 1950’s house with plans for a master bedroom addition on an extremely low budget. The beautiful rear yard, unfortunately, was unusable as the land sloped too fast from the house.

The existing 2nd floor had only the typical R-18 insulation on the roof (added in 80’s), low ceilings of 7 feet, and thus the upstairs bedrooms were boiling in the summer and very uncomfortable in the winter (all typical issues with American houses). This was compensated by multiple means of heating, gas, electric and under floor heating – all competing with each other due to inadequate construction standards.

At that time the existing heating system was functional and thus there was no financial incentive to change this.

In the middle of our revisions, however, the heating tubes under the floor formed a major leak, and thus we were faced with a new selection process and a full analysis of what to do.

1. We had already applied to the addition the latest recommendations by US department of Energy task force or ‘Passive Hus’ – House standards insulation standard (R=40 walls and R=60+ for roofs, the German and Swiss approach) with solar panels. These standards are about double the current North East energy codes, and as I have indicated in my previous blogs, savings and comfort beyond anybody’s imagination is the result. I had tested these standards in my own house first, and I have to admit that even I as professional was amazed – even blown away – by the results.

So we switched to geothermal cooling and heating. The difference in price was about $20,000 extra for drilling to earth heat, of the total $70,000 heating cooling package with ducts. (Geothermal units last 30 years instead of the typical 15 years for current heating and cooling units). With generous tax incentives, this is from the start win-win economically, due to applied insulation that allows us to get full tax breaks. And every month, the savings are about 50% better than average heating/cooling and with insulation 75% + better than houses built only to code in the states of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

There are no ‘noisy’ humming compressor units outside, and thus the yard is quiet in the summer. Because of this feature alone many clients want to use geothermal, as in large houses several compressors working at the same time cause a formidable amount of noise and cut down on the pleasure of being outdoors.

So why don’t we have more people doing this?

I have found out the following in the last 5 years when building totally green houses or retrofitting old ones:

1. Builders charge too much premium for doing this as it is different from their normal operation and they do not want to deal with Geothermal, solar and other applications. In my office I get around this by bidding with known contractors who have built with me and know what to expect.

2. I have the names of solar installers, and geothermal drillers, and I deal with them directly.

3. As a result, the houses are built to less cost because the tax breaks cover the extra insulation, and due to a smaller need for cooling and heating, ducting and heating cooling units are half the size.

4. Builders and consultants, mechanical equipment installers and suppliers do not like smaller mechanics as anything that is smaller and more efficient is less profitable, and thus my professional approach allows owners to gain state-of-the-art efficiency without the premiums.

5. Bankers, real estate professionals and developers do not find that people care enough to pay a little extra, (which could save them on a mortgage of $500,000 the entire mortgage amount in 15 years if savings for heating and cooling were applied to capital payments). Thus on a half million dollar mortgage, savings in 15 years amount to half a million in capital interest savings. Not bad for a little clear thinking.

Tapani Talo, AIA