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Tips on Green Design for Your Home: An Interview with David Hamburger of Building Efficiency

By David Hamburger

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Building Efficiency offers a whole home approach to improving your home's comfort and energy efficiency. We use building science principals, and our extensive experience to design custom home energy upgrades such as insulation, heating and cooling equipment, and high efficiency hot water systems.

What are the main differences between the process of green building and a regular building project?

Green building or remodeling focuses on higher quality products that last longer, and use less energy to operate. Although these options are not the cheapest way to go while considering green building or remodeling, they are the most advance and environmentally friendly products on the market. During the construction process we also take special care to dispose of any by-products in an environmentally conscience way.

Can you explain a little about what sustainability means for green builders and homeowners?

Sustainability is "responsible building" thinking thoughtfully about every stage of the buildings life: planning stage, construction stage, and occupied stage. Many times construction or remodeling is approached piecemeal, which doesn't take into account the interdependency of the systems working in your home.

If you replace your furnace with a new high efficiency model, but do not fix a set of old leaky ducts, you are not making a sustainable investment both financially and environmentally. Thinking of your home as one system that needs to work together to achieve comfort, energy savings, and increased health through air quality is a way to achieve sustainability for homeowners.

What are some of the misconceptions you've come across about green design?

Many people think that their older home cannot be both green and authentic to its original architecture or vintage accents. For example, around the Bay Area there are a lot of home without wall insulation, but with the original lathe and plaster wall texture.

Adding wall insulation doesn't mean sacrificing the authentic Bay Area feel of your home; our team of professional patchers can match textures so that penetrations are invisible after installation. Going green doesn't have to mean looking modern, and the look and feel of your home can be preserved while increasing its energy efficiency, comfort, and value.

What are some of the most popular green design features for homes in Bay Area?

Adding insulation is very common in the Bay Area, since there are a large amount of older homes built before insulation was required. Even with our mild climate, an uninsulated home can be drafty and cold, and cost thousands in lost energy. Insulation should be present in your attic, floor, and walls. A well-insulated home feels temperate, comfortable and has even temperature throughout.

What advice would you give a homeowner who wants to use solar or green design in their remodel, but they have a limited budget?

A Home Energy Assessment is a great first step to determine what the most important green upgrades are for your unique home. This evaluation allows our Building Analysts to use a combination of scientific testing, observations and computer modeling to see what the worst preforming areas of your home are, allowing homeowners to prioritize their upgrades as needed to stay within their budget.

Additionally, green remodels or upgrades can be done in phases over time to accommodate clients' budgets, and there are a few Energy Efficiency specific financing options available now. Although budget is a valid limitation to a green design project, each client should evaluate their overall energy savings and factor in not only utility savings, but increased comfort, better health through improved air quality, and the increased value of their home when creating a budget for their project.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

We can be reached via e-mail at or via phone at 415-831-4535. Visit for more information about our services.

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About The Author

Personally and professionally committed to Green values, David Hamburger has earned a...

Phone: 415-831-4535

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