Women hold 92% of the purchase influence when it comes to buying a home and are keenly interested in features that positively impact their family's health and well-being. In honor of Earth Day, four women from NAHB's Professional Women in Building Council (PWB) and Sustainability & Green Building Subcommittee (SGB) share how they have shaped their careers and/or businesses by including healthy and sustainability practices and strategies and found success.
Builder: Heather Ferrier Laminack, general manager at Ferrier Custom Homes SGB vice-chair; PWB trustee
"As a mother, I look at my sons and wonder how the building methods we integrate (or don't integrate) now will impact their future. It pushes me to consider how we create sustainable living spaces that will serve generations — not just for our clients, but for their children, and their children's children.
"Consider the hot Texas climate we build and remodel homes in — instead of 'fighting' it, we shape the design to respond in a thoughtful way. Control how much heat finds its way into the home, as opposed to just upgrading insulation and/or AC size. This is done by strategically placed glazing, incorporating overhangs and porches, as well as being intentional about where trees are placed (or siting the home around existing trees).
"I believe that green building plays a big role in creating sustainable living spaces by carefully considering the products and techniques we employ in order to craft homes that create a healthy living environment with a reduced footprint over the lifetime of the home. It challenges us to use our resources wisely, so that hopefully in the future our children will have the opportunities and resources afforded to us today."
Designer: Jillian Pritchard Cooke, founder of Wellness Within Your Walls SGB, PWB and Global Opportunities Board member; 2021 NAHB Global Innovations Award Subcommittee co-chair
"When you are passionate about your work, it is easy to take actions that result in positive outcomes. "I was fortunate to have mentors that designed and built homes to higher levels of performance. Many of the buildings I have helped design and select materials for over the years have been standing for decades; presumably they will be around for centuries.
"This commitment to high performance and healthier home building directly translated into the formation of Wellness Within Your Walls (WWYW). My mission in founding WWYW was to provide design-build professionals with high quality education that will enable them to create healthier interior environments with significantly fewer toxins.
"My motivation for learning about new, green, innovative products and installation techniques is key to our company's growth. Collaborating with other sustainably minded building professionals, both domestically and globally is one way I have done this. I have found that being open to learning what works in different regions and at different price points is invaluable.
"It goes without saying we have all been challenged with so much disruption the last 18 months, but I have found this time to be a time of growth for me personally. I have enjoyed sharing all that we have learned during the time we were involved in case study housing at Wellness Within Your Walls. We have so much we can learn from each other. We can solve much more together than we can apart."
Marketer: Marla Esser Cloos, owner and founder of The Green Home Coach SGB and PWB member
"My commitment to sustainability is first and foremost a commitment to people. "By showing people the peace of mind experienced living in a home built or improved sustainably, we focus on people's comfort and health. We focus on people.
"Healthier choices for each of us are almost always healthier choices for the larger community and vice versa. For instance, energy efficient homes with balanced ventilation provide healthier indoor air for the residents and also use less power, resulting in less utility emissions in the community. Showing people through stories and messages that these choices impact individuals and the community is vital to connecting each of us to the larger story of sustainability.
"One definition of sustainability is meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. I care about people — my children and future grandchildren, my family and friends, my community, and people I may never meet. So helping people to understand and take action for healthier, more sustainable outcomes is in my nature. It's all about the people."
Verifier: Karla Butterfield, sustainability director at Steven Winter Associates (SWA) SGB member
"My commitment to sustainability has motivated me to take action beyond the third-party verification process. Fresh out of college, I worked in a design build firm where sustainability was something we sort of applied where convenient — a recycled material here or high-efficiency equipment there. Now, after about 15 years at SWA, I approach sustainability holistically, promoting a whole building approach to healthy, high-performance buildings.
"Working in certification programs through a rigorous third-party process (i.e., energy modeling, consulting, commissioning, documentation) enables me to communicate lessons learned and best practices. It's only through this vital knowledge exchange with peers and project teams that we can advance sustainability.
"I understand that our world is not as sustainable, healthy, safe, equitable or inclusive as it needs to be. I try to remind myself at the start of every workday that my goal is to help develop and implement innovative solutions to improve buildings, and the health and well-being of its occupants."
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