Leadership Brings About Green Building

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Bringing your team along as you innovate is another part of the challenge. People hate change. Builder John Wesley Miller calls it the Jonah Complex: Don't tell me it's better. I like it here inside the whale.

June 01, 2003

 



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Bringing your team along as you innovate is another part of the challenge. People hate change. Builder John Wesley Miller calls it the Jonah Complex: Don't tell me it's better. I like it here inside the whale.

The antidote: strong leadership, a lot of show and tell, and patience. Once they see that you are committed, the focus shifts from resistance to the practical issues.

Miller recalls an excellent plumber who didn't want to install an air admittance vent (AAV). A cost-saving technology that eliminates the need for conventional pipe vents and roof penetrations with a pressure-activated, one-way mechanical venting port, it nonetheless has image problems owing to improper installation practices. The plumber was concerned about callbacks for odors on the Studor valve. Scenarios such as this are moments of truth for Miller's philosophy of "constant improvement by constant change." He has a game plan for such moments.

  1. Make the purpose clear.

    Miller wanted his plumber to know why the AAV was important - he hoped to eliminate roof penetrations and thus opportunities for leaks.

     

  2. Define the problem - once.

    In this case, installation was hindered because the space between the studs had been sealed over, so there was no way to provide the air intake the AAV required.

     

  3. Spend your energy on the solution.

    They cut a hole in the top of the drywall so the valve could take enough air from the room to let the water flow and covered the hole with a register. Problem solved.

Miller has discovered that innovation gets easier as you go. Working with a seasoned team that takes great pride in quality green building is only the beginning. "When I walk into a city or county office or a sub's office, they're used to it," he says. "They'll say, ‘What's new? What do you want to do now?' They expect it of me. The whole community does."

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