In this series, master craftsman Daniel Westbrook interviews industry expert Mark LaLiberte, founding partner and president of Construction Instruction. Mark has been educating the building industry on the science and physics of construction for more than 30 years, and sharing the benefits of constructing durable, energy efficient, healthy homes.
Today, we're sitting down with Mark to talk about the future of energy efficiency—and how it's changing the landscape of construction as we know it.
Is there a specific type of construction or home you feel is best for energy efficiency?
That’s a difficult question. If we look at resources and where it’s easiest to find them, we can learn more about what drives that. For example, we see a lot of brick homes in Texas, because brick is readily available there. What’s best for the area is really driven by those resources, plus new innovations in glazing, insulation materials, and heating, ventilation, and cooling equipment. Construction is also driven by us, as consumers and occupants of buildings: What do we want? Where do we want to live? Do we want to sell after five years, or stay in the home for a long time?
In California, there’s a mandate that requires all new residential construction to be zero net energy by the end of 2020. How does that impact the way the rest of the country will move forward?
Imagine the U.S., which builds more than a million houses a year, starts to build homes that don’t need outside energy. I think everyone wants that—to be able to come home, plug in our car, and live in a house that’s powered by the sun. There is enough sunlight striking the planet in a day to power the world’s needs for a year, so why not take advantage? That said, it’s a balance between where we are geographically and the architecture of the area—think about how different buildings are across the world, from Morocco to Paris to the Southwest U.S. We don’t want to lose that local flavor by homogenizing buildings, so I think it’s important to keep architecture and local resources in mind.
Stay tuned for more on energy retrofitting from Daniel and Mark—and be sure to check out the full energy retrofit series here.