TAKE ACTION: Support Sustainable Building Champions - #1 is HouseMender LaRue

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 11/22/2004 - 01:55.

E4S Champions address all aspects of the building industry - one "winning" champion, also proclaimed Champion of Champions, it seems every homeowner should know - read the praise for Jim LaRue the HouseMender below - another Building Champion recycles construction waste - which would otherwise become wasteful landfill - and other building champions are green builders and supply green building products - if you own buildings or are building then look these sustainability leaders up... especially cool sounds Harvest Build, for strawbale construction!

Jim LaRue – HouseMender, Inc
(216) 991-1088 /Cleveland Green
Building Coalition

(Nominated by: Michael W. Challender – Lorain County
Chamber of Commerce)

Jim LaRue, Residential Green Building Consultant, Cleveland Green Building
Coalition, deserves to receive the Champion of Sustainability award
in the Healthy, High Performance Building category. Jim conducts numerous
brown bag discussions regarding green building topics at the CGBC. In
addition, Jim takes an active position and makes his time available
for projects throughout Northeast Ohio. His desire to share his knowledge
regarding green building techniques is important in expanding the use
of green materials and techniques in the building industry, which is
a very difficult industry to make changes.

Jim spent many hours working with the Dream, a partnership of the North
coast Building Industries Association (NCBIA), the Lorain County Joint
Vocational School (JVS), the Lorain County Commissioners Solid Waste
District, the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce, and the Lorain County
Metro Parks. This multi-partner, residential project centered around
educating JVS students, the local building industry, and county residents
on how to design and build a green home. In fact, JVS students designed
and built, with the assistance of NCBIA members, this project home.
Jim was instrumental in assuring proper materials were selected in the
design, purchased locally, and installed correctly.

Hugely successful, the Dream project went much smoother because of Jims'
input and direction. In fact several builders are now constructing homes
to Energy Star standards; using recycled carpet, bamboo flooring, low
VOC adhesives, and zero VOC paint; and insulating the entire basement
wall. As a result, many more new homeowners will benefit from having
low energy bills and improved indoor air quality and comfort. In addition,
builders learned how to make their homes better than the competition
while increasing margins.

Jim LaRue does not receive much recognition for the work he does, however,
without his assistance our region would be much less knowledgeable of
green building materials and techniques. Therefore, I think Jim LaRue
should receive the Healthy, High Performance Building award.

(Nominated by: Nancy King Smith – Nature Center
at Shaker Lakes)

Jim LaRue has helped guide the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes through
its green building process. Long before we started he volunteered to
talk with us about ideas and to present at one of our monthly Environmental
Town Halls. During the planning and construction phases we consulted
with him about many issues and elements. He painstakingly took nails
out of 2X4’s to reuse in this building and other projects. He
helped organize the educational plan for our Grand Opening in April
2003 by assisting with the signage throughout the building (which we
are still using), leading green building tours and training others to
lead them, and helping with our “A Home in Nature: a Guide to
Our Green Building� brochure. Post-opening, he has continued to
advise and help problem solve with many issues, among them acoustics
problems, roof ice jams, rain barrels, lighting, etc.

Jim is totally committed to sustainable building practices and has been
selfless in giving of his time and expertise to the Nature Center and
many other projects. He is unassuming but is one of Cleveland’s
true Sustainability Champions.

(Nominated by: Brian Schneiderman – Self-Help Credit

Jim LaRue is one of Cleveland’s truest Sustainability Champions.
His tireless work through the years has paved the way for both personal
and systemic changes, particularly as it relates to Healthy and High
Performance Buildings. Having worked in the community and economic development
field for many years, Jim has earned a reputation in Northeast Ohio
for being a technical expert. Thus, when he combines his personal passion
and knowledge of how to build smarter, he helps articulate the discussion
in a way that drives forward both policy and hands on design. Jim has,
for example, led an important effort with the city to incorporate green
building design into city code as well as trained the inspectors. Work
such as this helps build not just the spirit of healthy and high performance
buildings but an institutional base.

At the heart of the matter though, Jim is a “get your hands dirty�
type of leader. On a regular basis Jim can be spotted in Cleveland’s
neighborhoods working voluntarily with individual homeowners to help
them take on both small and large projects that move from theory to
action, making families’ homes healthier and more efficient. Furthermore,
as the Residential Green Building Consultant at the Cleveland Green
Building Coalition, Jim shares his also knowledge through a series of
workshops to both the converted and, after because of working with Jim,
the soon-to-be converted.

And where does he get most of his knowledge? As an entrepreneur, he’s
self-made. Jim is President of HouseMender, Inc., a home improvement
advisory service that specializes in troubleshooting residential structures
for homeowners, contractors, and community development corporations.
Most of all though, Jim is a stalwart in the sustainability community
whose actions and commitment inspire others to get our hands dirty and
make things happen.

 (Nominated by: Gary Cole - Wiring Services)

Most people know Jim as the leader of green building in the
area. But he is not driven in his life’s work by buildings, but
by people.
Jim’s overriding driving force is concern for the ability of people,
especially people of lesser means, to have the affordable opportunity
of a living space that provides value and comfort and a healthy environment.
He dedicates most of his time to learning the latest green building
methods and technologies and then passing that information to others
in forums such as his GBC ‘Greening Your Home’ series. It
is conveyed not as gospel, but for information for evaluation. I have
seen him continually reject the high praise that frequently is directed
his way. Jim’s selfless way of living is an inspiration to me
and many others. At the end of a good life, I would say I will feel
the ultimate success if I come close to accomplishing what Jim has given
back to the human race in his life. He is an example to what can be.

Mike Merle – Ray Fogg Building Methods, Inc.

(Nominated by: Bill Oatey – Oatey Company)

Mike Merle from Fogg comes to mind as a Sustainability Champion. He
was continually supportive and a leader in our efforts for the new Oatey
Cleveland distribution facility to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and
Enviromental Design) standards set by the Green Building Council. Our
facility will be awarded a Silver LEED rating and is the first such
distribution facility in the country. This means that our building will:
reduce the impacts of natural resources consumption, reduce operational
costs, enhance associate comfort and health, and minimize strain on
local infrastructures. Mike helped us analyze and choose the viable
triple bottom line green building aspects of our new facility. For examples
building materials with high recycled content are reducing the impact
on the environment from reduced extraction and processing of virgin
materials. More than 50% of our construction waste was diverted from
landfill disposal. Large quantities of demolished concrete, scrap steel,
cardboard, paper and wood were redirected back to the manufacturing
process. Mike’s ingenuity and efforts on this project will continue
to positively influence other high performance building projects in
Northeast Ohio.


Bill Oatey – Oatey Company

(Nominated by: Andrew J. Kundmueller - Day & Nite
Solar Lite)

It is with great pleasure that I nominate Mr. Bill Oatey of
the Oatey Company as a Champion of Sustainability for the Buildings
Award. Bill is truly a leader and innovator by demanding GREEN "common
sense" building components for his companies new state of the art
Distribution Center.

Bill took a building design that was totally conventional in design
and budget and began asking questions. Even long after the beginning
stages, when most building owners would have just said "its to
late to change" he turned the project from "status quo"
into the countries first LEED certified distribution center. He truly
ventured into the non-conformity zone because of his passion and commitment
to sustainable building practices. In so doing, he has changed the mindset
of numerous contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, manufacturers, engineers
and designers to better understand the true meaning of the phrase "status
quo" which is latin for "the mess we are in". Leaders,
or in this sense, champions challenge the "mess we are in"
with solutions that answer the call.

By building his companies new LEED state of the art distribution center
in the city he loves and respects, he showed that corporate responsibility
begins with leadership that walks the walk and talks the talk. We are
truly blessed to have a champion leader like Bill Oatey in our local
community to inspire, motivate and champion the process of a sustainable
world. Now that is impact worthy of a true Champion of Sustainability!



Scott Gordon – Rosby Resource Recovery

(Nominated by: Jim LaRue – HouseMender, Inc /Cleveland Green Building


 If you decide to embark on a new career focusing on sustainability,
choosing to take on the entrenched practices of the building industry
is hard. One of the largest contributors to landfills is construction
materials, both demolition and new construction waste. Scott chose to
join Rosby’s and help them develop a new way to address this waste
issue. His goal is to recycle as much of the construction waste that
comes to their site as possible. He is working at this on two fronts:
sorting and recycling what comes to their site and teaching builders
and contractors how to reduce their waste and effectively gather any
waste they generate. The dumpsters he provides symbolize a sustainable
solution, not a sustainable problem.

Scott is our champion, not because he has fully succeeded in his mission,
but because he continues to struggle through all the issues that must
be addressed if handling of waste is to be sustainable financially as
well as practically. Though builders in this ecoregion don’t know
it yet, Scott is becoming their champion as well.


Mark Hoberecht – Harvest Build Associates, Inc.

(Nominated by: Gary Cole - Wiring Services)

For years Mark Hoberecht has devoted all his after work energy to developing
a straw bale construction business. Though his 9-5 is still fuel cell
engineering for NASA, he has totally dedicated himself to learning all
aspects of natural homebuilding, with the main focus on strawbale. He
has a couple of strawbale construction projects right now that have
broken into the commercial realm. His science knowledge is applied daily
to the advancement of building science that translates into durable
and high performing buildings. He also lives in a sustainable manner
in many ways.


See the complete E4S write-up, with even more praise for LaRue