For Scott Kelly, getting folks to go green has a lot to do with the pitch. Kelly, a longtime contractor and the founder of Kelly Green Building Advisors in Los Angeles, has been talking green for a few years, but he’s quick to point out, “I don’t preach green; I preach high performance energy efficiency.” The distinction matters, because it plays on concerns about budget. The knock on green technology for a while now has been that it’s costly. With new building codes in California, though, mandating even higher levels of energy efficiency, green is now a way of life. Kelly is helping his industry colleagues meet and exceed those standards with his latest venture, Energy Upgrade Solutions.
Using his background in building science, he’s working with existing homes—“We can get 40%–50% energy efficiency in existing homes,” he notes—by introducing measures such as air sealing, super insulating and adding zero-leakage duct work. “They’re some of the most important efficiency measures—the building envelope is paramount,” Kelly explains. “Houses have conditioned and unconditioned spaces, but they’re all connected. If the envelope is poorly constructed, it will leak.”
He’s also taking his green gospel to new homebuilders too, enticing them into making serious changes by speaking the language of cost. “Clients don’t want to see the budget change,” Kelly explains. “By moving things around, we can keep the changes budget neutral.” The changes also mean long-term savings. “You can make home so comfortable, they don’t need air conditioning.
As he continues the conversation, Kelly has another goal in mind: net zero buildings. “It’s definitely a grind trying to make this work,” he says. “I’m trying to turn all builders into performance builders.”