Polly Bart loves to get muddy. Despite having an undergraduate degree in architecture and a doctorate in city planning, Polly is not an architect. She’s a builder and founder of Greenbuilders, Inc. She loves creating, lifting rock and building things.
In fact, she loves it so much, she can’t understand why everyone doesn’t want to build things!
City Planning vs Building
Polly Bart explains that policy development is largely about expressing other people’s ideas (a lot like architecture). She felt she could make more effective change by actually building houses.
Polly’s experience ‘on the other side of the desk’ has given her a great appreciation of the role of council inspectors. A good building inspector will know straight away how well a building is being built, so Polly’s strategy is absolute honesty and providing as much information as possible up front. Making their job easy is important, especially when trying to do new and innovative things.
Top Tips for Building Green
- In renovating, often doing less is the most sustainable and affordable option. Polly suggests thinking about what you can love about what you already have.
- Green doesn’t have to cost more, but it does require more work up front.
- Get everyone on the team. Don’t get into competitive bidding, because this just puts the builder offside from the start and it encourages builders to reduce quality or make up for a low bid price with change orders.
As an extra tip, don’t leave out the children. Polly has a pre-construction meeting with the kids. She respects that a renovation can be hugely disruptive for young people and they often feel left out when everything is changing around them.
What makes a green project?
Polly uses the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating system as framework for defining ‘green’. This includes the five categories of:
- Indoor air quality
What’s the Future of Green Building
Commercial and school building is already green, say Polly. She sees that in five to ten year’s time, the residential sector will have followed. That’s an exciting prospect.