Celebrating Earth Day by Volunteering in our Community

Happy Earth Day!

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by volunteering for an event in the community you live.

Everyone has an expertise and what better way to benefit the Community in which you live than by volunteering that expertise to the benefit of others.  We have always believed that it is important to be engaged and active in your community.  We have had two opportunities recently to volunteer our time and talents.

Just this past Sunday, we organized Earth Day activities at our church.  Our church recently received Energy Star Certification and is one of 50 churches Nationwide who have received such designation.  Our church has also recently created a “Green” Team to focus on Energy Efficiency and Sustainability within our congregation.

All Saints conducted a $9,000 Level 2 energy audit in May, which with rebates from the program was free to the congregation.

Our activities for this past Sunday, included programs for both Children’s Sunday School and Adults.

Our Children’s Sunday School activities included talking about the Energy Star Certification (some of the kids were really well aware of what it means!), talking about where food comes from and planting cucumber seeds in peat pots for the kids to take home.

image1

For the Adults, we had a presentation and display set up between Church services from CSG (Conservation Services Group) who administers both Columbia Gas and AEP (American Electric Power) Energy Audits for residential customers.  These Audits identify areas in a home that could be improved upon from a air leakage standpoint (insulation or air sealing), systems (furnace and a/c), electrical (light bulbs) and plumbing fixtures (low flow faucet aerators).

CSG presentation

For two years now, we have volunteered to participate in Green Apple Day of Service.  Green Apple Day of Service is a National Event sponsored by the Green Schools program through the United States Green Building Council.  The Green Apple Day of Service gives parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments through local service projects.

We helped to implement a rain garden at a local Elementary School.

2014-09-27 09.47.29

 2014-09-27 10.57.15

\2014-09-27 09.54.50

Growing Pains

Pile-of-drawings

As a project progresses, my desk piles with sketches, redlines and other reference material.  It almost always becomes an archaeological dig as the deeper in the pile I dig the older the drawing.  This time the pile was a little deeper to dig through as since the beginning of the year we have been working with four different clients on different types of projects ranging from a simple kitchen remodel to a whole house renovation and addition project.  For a small office like ours, that is still working on a part time basis, this is a large increase in work load making for late nights and early mornings to get the job done as we typically are only working on one project at a time.

The past few months have been stressful and tiring, however with three of the four projects out the door, each project brings us closer to taking Sym-Home full time.  With each project we pay ourselves a fair wage and the rest goes to pay for business expenses. We are following the philosophy of Entrepreneur Architect and building a debt free practice.  This means purchasing the tools we need as we can afford them and building the nest egg for when that day comes to take the practice full time, to ensure we have the cushion to pay the bills as we grow even more.

We are excited for the future as our projects are getting larger and we are receiving referrals from past clients.  As well as new ones finding us online either from our website or social media sites like Houzz.  So continue to follow us as we grow.

Greenbuild 2013

Last week we had the chance to attend the United State Green Building Council (USGBC) Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Philadelphia.  Let me tell you, it was a physically and mentally draining week, yet we return rejuvenated and inspired to continue on our path.  Attending a conference like this always lifts your spirits as you are surrounded by 30,000 like minded professionals.

GreenbuildNation Read the rest of this entry »

Sym-Home Brings On A New Partner

I would like to officially welcome Amy Lloyd to the Sym-Home team.  Amy will be taking on a full time role of business development and managing the daily operations as we look to expand our services offered at Sym-Home.

Amy Lloyd HeadshotAmy has over 13 years of experience in the design and construction industry with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Kent State University.  She has worked for Architecture Firms in Cleveland, Columbus and Washington D.C. with project experience in industrial, municipal, mixed-use retail and multi-family housing.  For the last several years, she has been working with the State of Ohio as an Owner’s Representative for K-12 new construction and renovation projects in Ohio where she managed project teams for a total of 25 schools buildings translating to over $420 million in construction.  As a part of these school projects, Amy has been directly involved in 2.5 million Square Feet of LEED Registered or Certified buildings.

Amy’s experience working both as a Project Manager and as an Owner’s Representatives makes her a valuable team member understanding what it takes for a great project using experience from both sides of the table.

Thousand Home Challenge

I am a LEED Accredited Professional and have been since 2004.  I have also adopted the goals of the Architecture 2030© 2030 Challenge and incorporate energy efficiency measures into all of my design projects.  However we as a country cannot reduce our dependence on foreign oil by designing and building new energy efficient buildings and homes.  We need to address our existing building stock.   There are plenty of programs around the country to help homeowners and building owners increase the energy efficiency of their aging structures.  However the majority of the programs only bring the efficiency of the buildings and homes up to today’s current standards of energy efficiency.  However a building built to code minimums today, will be ready for efficiency improvements tomorrow as the energy codes only get stricter.  Thanks to organizations like the USGBC and RESNET, energy efficiency has become more mainstream and there have been great improvements in the energy efficiency standards to our buildings and products in the past decade.

Thousand Home ChallengeTherefore, a couple of years ago now I wrote an article stating my interest in participating in the 1000 Home Challenge to use my home as a case study to find strategies to reduce an existing homes energy usage by 70-90%.  In August of 2012 my home was accepted into the program.  Why the 1000 Home Challenge instead of a program like LEED for Homes?  At the time that my wife and I began the journey of “greening” our 1965 ranch home the LEED program did not make it easy to certify an existing home without completely gutting the home and that was never our intention.  Sym-Homes’ mission was to show homeowners affordable strategies to make their home more energy efficient.  As not everyone can afford, or is up to the work that is involved with taking the exterior walls down to the bare studs.  Also the LEED for Homes and other energy efficiency programs are a onetime test and certification that is based off of energy modeling and tests/inspections of installed measures.  With the Thousand Home Challenge there will be a one year monitoring period of the utility bills to verify that improvements are performing as expected and that the homes overall energy usage is meeting the set targets.

Read the rest of this entry »