Fred Bell, Executive Director of the Desert Chapter of the Builders Industry Association (BIA), is hard at work trying to pave the way for green building in Riverside and Imperial counties in a region that could very well reach status as one of the most progressive green-minded geographic areas in the country.
By taking lead from the already proactive-minded communities contained within this BIA's scope -- home to many leading green designers, architects and organizations hoping to spread the sustainable lifestyle to the consumer consciousness at large -- Bell and his members have recently introduced presentations of the California Green Builder (CGB) program to builders across the desert. The California Green Builder program is the most distinguished and credible, cost-effective green building program available to production builders and California homebuyers. Created by homebuilders for homebuilders, the voluntary program meets the needs of builders, buyers and California's cities and counties alike by showing the way to green from the ground up.
"Fred has been the main facilitator in bringing California Green Builder to the desert," said Justin Dunning, program coordinator for CBG. "He was active at the city council level, and also in working with Imperial Irrigation District (IID) on their incentive program. Fred has set up meetings with city and utility officials to allow us to explain the program and has also been very active in trying to get builders to enroll in the program.
"In March of this year Fred worked with the IID to host two separate California Green Builder seminars, one in Indio and one in Brawley. Fred has also spoken on behalf of California Green Builder at city council meetings," Dunning continued.
"Fred's high level of involvement is the model we are trying to duplicate between the Home Builder Associations and California Green Builder throughout the state." This involvement by the BIA's Desert Chapter is important at a seed level because, according to Dunning, the biggest challenge is getting the word across to builders that green is doable.
"One of the biggest hurdles we face in getting builders to adopt the program is one of education," he said. "There is so much information regarding green building swirling around out there it is easy for builders to get confused or pick up bad information. California Green Builder is often the green program many builders never knew they wanted. Any chance we get to present California Green Builder as a simple, cost-effective and resource-effective program is valuable."
As a result of these seminars, the BIA Desert Chapter has created a bridge to get the CGB message across and has found some concrete results. On one hand, the seminars have allowed the BIA Desert Chapter to educate local government officials so they are more apt to support builders attempting to utilize green development.
On the other hand, the seminars have inspired other companies like Rilington Homes, whose president Wes Ahlgren is on the BIA Desert Chapter Board, to adopt a green forward direction. Rilington is currently the lead builder in the process of getting certified, and Bell said that by the end of the year, the BIA will have 10 to 12 more certified builders on board.
"It's really exciting to watch some of the projects that come about as a result of our efforts," Bell said. "Right now, we are finishing final design on the first California Green Builder certified Habitat for Humanity house, which will be in Palm Desert and will demonstrate to other builders the cost and design experience firsthand so that they can become more comfortable with the program for their own future projects."
Although the current downturn in the residential market presents a challenge to the BIA Desert Chapter, the organization continues to move forward with sharing the technology and its benefits.
"Based on the important relationships we have been able to build in the industry and the cities, and the number of municipalities that adopted the program within the Coachella Valley and Imperial County, we are definitely one of the most progressive chapters of green builders in the state," Bell said.
BIA Desert Chapter covers the Riverside County Board of Supervisors Districts 3 and 4, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors and the following cities:
¥ Blythe ¥ Brawley ¥ Calexico ¥ Calipatria ¥ Cathedral City ¥ Coachella ¥ Desert Hot Springs ¥ El Centro ¥ Holtville ¥ Imperial ¥ Indian Wells ¥ Indio ¥ La Quinta ¥ Palm Desert ¥ Palm Springs ¥ Rancho Mirage ¥ Westmoreland