What is Field Work?

Field work is when I go out into the world on my fourth term and get primary research done.

Gee, Brendan, That sounds stupendous! What are you going to do?

I plan on doing a lot of interviews. If I want to be effective in what I do, I have to go to a wide variety of sources in order to evaluate Greengineering. Read lots and lots on what the next generation of Greengineers need to learn. Interview professionals. That type of thing.

Here is a sample email interview I did with Brian Butler of Boston Green Building. His answers are in bold.

1.) What is it exactly that Boston Green Building does? When was it founded?

We are a general contracting company. We were founded in March 2007

2.) What is your position with Boston Green Building?

I am the owner. My responsibilites include sales, marketing and some project management of key projects.

3.) What services does Boston Green Building offer that an average citizen could not do themselves.

There's quite a bit that "average citizens" can do themselves. Education is about the most powerful thing folks can do for themselves. I highly recommend familiarizing one's self with the energy saving and carbon reducing building techniques being implemented in Europe. A good English speaker's resource is the website www.passivehouse.us On their website are resources and links to materials that explain "Passivhaus" as an attainable standard, with good planning and implementation. Another good source of information is the Building Science Corporation's website. There are a consulting architectural company right here in Massachusetts that publishes building data and good building science practices on everything from moisture control to super insulation techniques.

Boston Green Building's services are not limited to zero-net energy building or Deep Energy Retrofits only. We offer a full range of services. Anything from installing a door to renovating an entire house, or building a new custom home.

4.) What are some of the challenges Boston Green Building faces, both day to day, and over the long term?

BGB is still a small start-up business, and faces that same hurdles that all small businesses are struggling with now in a weak economy. We hope that our strength lies in our open minded approach to design, management and building. Over the long term, we welcome the challenge of the educating the homebuilding and renovating public on the most sustainable way to dwell and tread lightly on the planet.

5.) Are these challenges you face different than those of a less environmentally conscious construction company? Or are the challenges just about the same?

I think any business, not just construction companies, have some serious choices to make about the way we all think about energy and where it comes from, and how it affects our lives and our livelyhoods. The decade ahead should be one of massive progressive change towards efficiency, great reductions in consumption and ceaseless innovation in the areas of conservation and intelligent design. Simply put, as long as a gallon of gasoline costs less than a liter of Coca Cola, we're doing something horribly wrong. Things just won't change until fossil fuels cost more. Most of the rest of the developed world pays 2 to 3 times as much for fossil fuels as Americans do, because of high taxes on carbon. While this may be politically unpopular to suggest in America, the fact is, it would make an enormous difference on the way we do business.

6.) Does Boston Green Building save money itself by simply being a sustainable building contractor versus the money conventional construction companies spend by using conventional supplies?

The beauty of good design and a superinsulated building, is that the long term savings are enormous, and the actual cost per square foot is still reasonable compared to "conventional" building practices. "Green" building products are quickly penetrating the market. By supporting these materials and vendors, we can hasten these products to market and drive the costs down.

7.) What are Boston Green Building's plans for the future of it's business? And, in your professional opinion, do you think the "niche" of sustainable technologies will grow?

We're very excited about Deep Energy Retrofit pilot programs now being offered by both National Grid and NStar. These utility companies are now offering tens of thousands of dollars in grants for superinsulation and systems upgrade projects for residential upgrades. For the short term, these will really help to grow the stock of homes treated, and will raise awareness of the possibilities. For the long term, it's my opinion that home buyers will begin to put a value on a homes built this way, vs and home built "conventionally". This in turn will eventually drive up the value of these types of homes higher than their leaky, drafty, poorly insulated counterparts. This will make it easier for us to sell these types of jobs and eventually easier for folks to agree to do this on their own.