INTERVIEW: Inhabitat Talks with Carl Seville, the Green Building Curmudgeon
Inhabitat: Let’s talk about your book a little bit. Green Building Principles and Practices looks to be pretty technically oriented. You have a lot of information in there.
Carl Seville: Yeah, it was designed as a college textbook for undergraduates and graduate schools, architecture, engineering, building construction, and it’s sort of a steps through roughly construction sequence all of the things that are involved with putting together a green building. It’s not every step, but it gives you all the options to consider and how they all interrelate and I think that’s the key thing we tried to point out, that building a green building, a good building, a high performance building is carefully planning it from the beginning and then making sure that everything is done right. You make all the right decisions throughout the process and then each decision…the kind of foundation you put in affects all the other decisions through the building.
There’s no green building GPS- it does not self-correct. If you make a wrong decision, if your first decision is wrong and your next 15 decisions are right, you could still be going the completely wrong direction, so you need to make all the right decisions from the very beginning.
Inhabitat: When you’re on a building site how do you get people to look at it more closely and change the way they approach their methodology?
Carl Seville: Well it depends on what your position is on the operation. Like I’m working on a house where the guy is building a house and he hired me to be his consultant and to certify his LEED house and the builder, he’s an okay builder. He doesn’t really understand high performance building, but he’s very receptive and it happens to be around the corner from my house, so it’s convenient. I can swing by…literally it’s like two blocks away so I can swing by there. I’ve had to go back and reinspect things multiple times because he’s trying, but I go back and I pull some stuff out and I say, “See, look behind this. See where…” and he gets it and he appreciates it. I remember this as a contractor, you sort of rely on your subcontractors to do things and he didn’t know enough to know that his subcontractors were giving him substandard work.
Inhabitat: So you had to be there to train him and he then trains the subcontractors?
Carl Seville: Yeah and this house is definitely way better than it would have been, so I think he’s learning and I think he’s kind of getting that it’s not a ton of extra work. It’s just doing the work right in the first place. That’s really what it comes down to.
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