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Fernando Pagés on Green Building


Published February 12, 2009 at 2:29 p.m.

This week's Seven Days features a story about Fernando Pagés, an award-winning home builder from Nebraska who writes regularly about design and construction. Pagés is the keynote speaker at the Better Buildings by Design Conference at the Burlington Sheraton, a two-day event that ends tonight.

Seeing as my interview with Pagés was so interesting (to me, at least), I'm excerpting some of it here:

SEVEN DAYS: The U.S. Green Building Council reports that 70 percent of home buyers are more inclined to buy a green home in a recession, and that almost a third of the people who bought green homes in 2008 earn less than $50,000 per year. What explains that?
FERNANDO PAGÉS: First of all, there's a lot of interest now in doing everything in general low-cost, particularly in housing, because of the crisis we're in ... But for the most part, "green building" has been approached as things you add to the house or the building, and that's why green building has [traditionally] cost more.
    My approach to green building is what you subtract: I use the other side of the pencil more than the tip in terms of design. In other words, I use the eraser ... When you eliminate things, you're using a little bit more conservative approach, in that you're eliminating the use of natural resources. You're also creating more space in the house. And I don't mean that figuratively, but literally: Creating more space between studs and in structural areas for more insulation and the very materials that create the energy efficiency of the house ...

SD: If you're a homeowner thinking of buying a new house or making efficiency improvements to an existing one, is there anything you might look for from the feds?