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Ask a Sustainable Builder

Ask a Sustainable Builder

By Maureen Ciaccio
This podcast is for people who want to understand options for custom homes and renovating that will reduce their carbon footprint. Some call it green building, some high performance and others, sustainable building. If you want to understand building science concepts and lingo in a conversational way, then join us as I interview everyday builders, architects, materials suppliers and people who enjoy living in high performance homes. This will be a great start on your journey to sustainable choices in home building and renovation.
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Dan Kolbert – The House as a System, Building Science, Durability & Sustainability
The Guest: Dan Kolbert is the owner of Kolbert Building, a small, longtime building contractor in Portland, Maine. Dan has written for various trade publications, including Fine Homebuilding magazine, and for the past 10 years has been moderator of the original Building Science Discussion Group in Portland, Maine, where the Pretty Good House idea originated. Be sure to watch for the upcoming book he is co-authoring, to be published in 2022. Topics: The house as a system Upcoming book with co-authors Emily Mottram, Michael Maines, Chris Briley Energy efficiency in historic home renovation Energy concerns in finishing an attic Why combine insulating, air sealing and ventilation Durability and adaptability as part of sustainability Insulating foundations for energy, health and carbon debt Links: Kolbert Building:, Pretty Good House: BS (Building Science) & Beer Show: Green Building Advisor: Fine Homebuilding: LEED Rating System: Benson Wood, Tedd Benson (adaptability for durability):
February 14, 2021
Tom Ricciardelli – Recycled and recyclable flooring. One company’s journey creating a quality product from nearly 100% recycled materials.
Tom Ricciardelli – Recycled and recyclable flooring. One company’s journey creating a quality product from nearly 100% recycled materials and paying to recycle it again. Tom Ricciardelli is President and CEO of SelecTech, Inc., a flooring manufacturer dedicated to using recycled materials and creating products that are, in turn, recyclable. He is also the Chairman of the Flooring Committee at EOS/ESD Association Inc. which works on furthering electrostatic containment in flooring. Located in Avon, MA in the Greater Boston area, SelecTech is most known for their specialty commercial flooring that solves industry problems. One product is StaticStop. They also have a unique residential product, Place N Go. It is made with a resilient recycled plastic that installs easily over a variety of problem subfloors, resists moisture, is long-lasting and is recyclable at the end of its life. Topics: · Place N Go product, what it is and how to use it · The company’s path from their initial vision to their current mission · The wider scope of SelecTech in problem solving for commercial uses Links: · The SelecTech website: · Direct link to the Place N Go website: · Direct link to the StaticStop website:
October 27, 2020
Sara Mallio – Permaculture, Designing the House and Land Together, Five Aspects of Sustainability, Role of the Contractor
Sara Mallio, of White Oaks Studio in Littleton Massachusetts, is a residential designer with a passion for sustainable design. She is a Certified Passive House Consultant and a Certified Permaculture Designer. A Vermont licensed architect, her firm is first and foremost client focused, making sure that the final design supports the lifestyle the client strives for. Sara views the building and the land as a whole system, working in symbiosis. Sara’s designs reflect this, incorporating the natural resources and inherent beauty of the land into each design. She works to bring the outside in and the inside out, studying the ecological resources each piece of land has to offer, as well as the resources each building produces. She weaves them into a regenerative, whole system where each one supports the other. Sara is currently pursuing her Master of Architecture degree at UMass Amherst to more fully study the potential of sustainable land-building systems. Topics:  •  Permaculture  •  Five aspects of sustainability •  Abundance mindset within the building industry and community sectors •  Thinking through design details to bring down cost •  Design process from discovery to construction  •  At what point should the contractor get involved? Links:  •  You can find Sara and White Oaks Studio at her website,
August 31, 2020
Emily Mottram – Designing for Energy Comfort and Health, Reducing Cost by Designing for How You Live
Emily Mottram, of Mottram Architecture in Cumberland Maine, is an Architect and Building Science Consultant. Her primary focus is on healthy, durable and efficient home design. She believes in high performance building envelopes, low carbon structures, flexible living spaces, daylight planning design, and creating spaces that inspire people to go out and do the things they love. A graduate of Penn State with a BARCH, she worked for firms in DC and Maine prior to founding Mottram Architecture in 2009. She is licensed in Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.  Emily is a moderator for the BS* & Beer Show (*Building Science), has her own building science podcast E3 Energy and Efficiency with Emily and has been featured in Decor Maine, Maine Homes by Downeast, Green & Healthy Homes Maine and Maine Home + Design. Topics:  • Journey from hands on learning to architect to sustainable architecture • Architecture and building science, a powerful combination • Energy — the extra dimension in planning for comfort • Understanding building science for healthy indoor air quality  • Reducing square footage by designing for how each client lives  • Improving energy performance for renovation while minimizing your carbon footprint Links: • Mottram Architecture:  • Emily’s Podcast: E3 Energy and Efficiency with Emily: • Thursdays 6pm EDT, BS & Beer Show: • Replays of BS & Beer Show on You Tube • Instagram: • See #BuildingScience on Instagram to meet building professionals; can be homeowner level discussion • LinkedIn
August 15, 2020
Michael Maines - What to Ask a Green Builder, Certifications and What’s Really Needed for Cost & Efficiency
Michael Maines With a BS in Engineering from Tufts University, a minor in Architectural Studies and an early interest in building natural, expressive homes, Mike has worked as a carpenter, fine woodworker, contractor, project manager, drafter and as operations manager for one of the premiere Passive House builders in the US where he earned the designation Passive House Consultant. In 2015 he started his own firm, Michael Maines Residential Design. Mike understands that not every client is interested in building a certified Passive House, so he works with them to find a balance of efficiency and cost, while making sure that the home or renovation is beautiful, functional and healthy for its occupants and the environment. He works all over Maine and New England, and sometimes beyond, using the advantages of digital communication wherever possible. As contributing editor to Fine Homebuilding and Green Home Advisor, co-creator of Pretty Good House principles and the BS* & Beer (*building science) show which has up to 600 viewers a week, you might say Mike knows quite a bit. More importantly he shares his knowledge freely everywhere as he does with us in this podcast. Topics: A new project using concepts from the Earthship modified for New England The Pretty Good House alternative to Passive House, LEED and Living Building Challenge The BS* & Beer Show (*building science) What questions to ask of a green builder to make sure they know what they are doing Thinking about cost and benefit of renovations Links: Michael Maines Residential Design The BS & Beer Show Green Building Advisor Fine Home Building Performance Building Supply PHIUS (Passive House US) NESEA (Northeast Sustainable Energy Association) --Mike added this as a primary place to look for information and local green builders to hire
July 30, 2020
John Deans – Embodied Carbon, the Issue of Concrete and Foam, Prioritizing for Cost
John Deans For almost a decade John Deans was an organizer and campaigner for environmental and progressive causes, including a long stint at Greenpeace USA.  He loved fighting the good fight, but found himself increasingly chained to a laptop and cell phone. Yearning to breathe fresh air again and work with his hands, he joined Emerald Builders located in Bowdoinham, Maine in 2017. At Emerald, John works as a Carpenter and as their Marketing Director promoting their business and ideas about sustainability. What he likes about his job: “There is magic in the process of joining material together to make something functional and beautiful, and I love getting to be a wizard-in-training every day.” Outside of Emerald Builders, John hangs with his favorite person and wife Liia, playing board games, going on outdoor adventures, and working on their little old farmhouse in Bowdoinham. They also serve the sweetest dog in the world, Odin, and most talkative cat, Gambit. Topics A triple bottom line company: People, Planet, Profit What does the word sustainable really mean? High performance building and building science Life cycle approach — energy efficiency is only part of the equation What is embodied carbon? The issue of concrete and foam Alternative to foam How to think about the cost of a sustainably built home Links Website Instagram Facebook
July 30, 2020
It's About Your Sustainable Building Choices - Maureen Ciaccio
If you are gearing up for a custom home or renovation project and you want to understand the lingo and  concepts behind building science in a down-to-earth way, then join us as I interview everyday builders, architects, materials suppliers and people who enjoy living in high performance homes. This is a great start to understand sustainable choices in home building and renovation. It's hard to understand how to talk to a builder when you don't know the lingo. It's even harder when there are so many new concepts and options with sustainable building. We'll approach choices for new homes and renovations through understandable conversations with builders, architects, materials suppliers and people who live in high performance homes. #sustainablebuilding #greenbuilding #highperformance #sustainableliving #renovations #customhome #homebuilding #building #sustainable #construction #architecture #designbuild
July 27, 2020