EcoHome checks in with Randy Streetman, a veteran Austin, Texas, green builder and founder of Streetman Homes.
How long have you been in the home building business?
I have been in the business since graduating from Texas A&M University in the mid-1970s. I’ve worked in jobs ranging from product development, sales, marketing, and the construction of structures ranging from housing to commercial buildings, hospitals, military complexes, and offshore platforms all over the world. Later I helped grow a Houston start-up into one of the largest home builders in the country.
In 1992, after moving to Austin, I partnered with several local real estate developers to form Streetman Homes. Since then, the company has built over 1,500 homes.
When did you first become interested in green building? Why?
Green building--although that wasn’t what we called it 16 years ago--has been a great differentiator for our company since the beginning. Our buyers are made up of a very exclusive clientele: engineers, lawyers, and similar well-educated professionals who are demanding and know what they want. Our customers are willing to make an investment in their home that represents a value above and beyond what the eye can see and they are interested in purchasing a home that will hopefully hold its value for the long run.
What is your overall approach to green building?
--Help protect and contribute to the health of homeowners
--Design for proper ventilation for better indoor air quality
--Reduce or eliminate the use of materials and products that utilize petrochemicals and synthetic ingredients that emit VOC gasses
--Utilize natural components and non-toxic, ecological, and resource-efficient building materials
--Aid in decreasing the demand on non-renewable resources such as heating fuels, water, and electricity
--Sustain and support green building by understanding that being green for the homeowner extends beyond appearances to include both style and efficiency
Do you participate with a green building program?
We build many of our homes to the Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) program. These homes are being built in the redeveloped Mueller neighborhood, the largest residential green development in Austin. Streetman Homes has achieved AEGB’s highest green building rating (5-Star) on more homes in Austin than any other builder. What have been some of your biggest challenges in terms of the green movement?
Green is the great buzzword today, but really defining to customers what it means to build an energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable home is our greatest challenge. To do this, we educate our customers in many ways during the buying, contract, and closing process.
When a buyer first comes to see us, our on-site sales professional covers the features and benefits that a high-performance home provides. Once under contract, customers attend three buyer orientation presentations conducted by our jobsite superintendent. The first orientation is the site orientation, and the second one is done just prior to Sheetrock installation, after the spray foam insulation has been applied.
One week prior to closing at the final orientation the superintendent demonstrates how the home works and how to take care of it.
What are some of your greatest green triumphs?
Building and selling 39 AEGB 5-Star Green homes and being recognized by our peers as the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin’s Green Homebuilder of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
How is your local green building market doing in this current economic downturn?
We have been fortunate to be able to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace by building high-performance homes. While everyone else is de-featuring their homes we have taken the opposite approach and it has paid off.
Buyers in this market do recognize the importance of sustainable building practices; our sales have increased over last year by 25%.
What do you think the future holds for green home building?
Environmentally conscious building is not going away anytime soon. As the costs of operating a home continues to rise, consumers will look for ways to lower their costs. They will look for builders who know how to create a home that will save them money.
What are some of your favorite products?
--Dow Styrofoam residential sheathing
--Insulated Low-E double-pane argon-filled solid wood windows
--Dow Weathermate Sill Seal foam gasket
--Honeywell VisionPRO touchscreen programmable thermostat
--Tankless water heaters
--Compact fluorescent light bulbs