Driving Change in the East Kootenays
Tyee Homes - leading by example
Over 12 years ago, after completing a commercial LEED project at UBC in Vancouver, Carl Lauren was ready for a change—a change that would include starting his own residential construction company where green building would be a primary aspect. After settling on the name Tyee Homes, “tyee” meaning leader, Carl embarked on the journey of establishing a home builder company which today has lived up to its name.
Carl was focused on becoming involved with a “practical green building program”, so, in 2009, he approached the city of Kimberley to put on a BUILT GREEN® training course. Before he was even registered with the organization, he had begun building his first BUILT GREEN® home.
Built Green Canada is an organization working with builders interested in sustainable practices in the residential building sector. While energy efficiency is a fundamental component of these programs, it also includes the preservation of natural resources, reduction of pollution, ventilation and air quality, and the improvement of home durability. Built Green has representation in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario, and has recently expanded into Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
For the past 12 years Tyee Homes has developed into a company that provides complete design and construction services in the East Kootenays of B.C.—the first in the area to build to a BUILT GREEN® certification. Tyee isn’t interested in competing with the general faction of builders. They’re about working with the homeowner to create something beautiful, sustainable, and unique. When asked to bid against other builders on a project, they decline. Tyee feels that if they bid against others, it becomes the builder versus the owner, the builder versus the trades. “We work with people, as a team. It isn’t about price.”
When asked what makes them different, Carl’s answer is simple: “We build better”. From the beginning of the supply chain, all product that goes into their builds has gone through a stringent process to ensure the highest of standards, with the expectation that suppliers will deliver top-notch service. Tyee Homes’ looks at every piece that goes into the build, making the finished product a more sustainable, well-made home. At each stage, Tyee Homes’ delivers at a superior level.
Carl has always seen the world as a place everyone takes from without thought of future generations, which is one reason Tyee is so invested in green building. “We really believe we can make a difference,” Carl says. “If one person takes out their recycling, that’s great. If we build a sustainable home, it is like 50 people taking out their recycling”. Tyee implements the BUILT GREEN® program, which includes both the EnerGuide rating and BUILT GREEN® seal, into all of their homes at no upcharge to their client, with the majority of their homes in the program reaching BUILT GREEN® Gold or Platinum certification. The only thing they ask of their clients is to pay it forward—to continue Tyee’s intent to make the world a better place by being conscious of their recycling and energy use in their own homes and in all aspects of their everyday life.
Taking this a step further, Carl used his position on the BUILT GREEN® Board to lead changes in his area. In 2013 Carl again approached the city of Kimberley, this time about municipal change. Since then, the city of Kimberley has agreed to support sustainable building and is offering energy rebates to new home builders and renovators. Rebates start at a certain EnerGuide rating, and the project must be backed by an accredited green building program. Carl had once before approached the city on this matter as a concerned builder, but found more traction as a BUILT GREEN® Director.
Carl mentions the concern common to sustainable builders: there is a lack of demand. Despite continually ominous climate reports and human-made environmental damage around the world, homebuyers aren’t making the connection and asking for greener homes. Homeowners are typically excited about green features, but they don’t tend to have the awareness to ask in the first place, and they don’t understand the benefits. This means builders don’t have to build to a green standard. But Carl continues to drive change, nonetheless: “Good builders have to fight to be good!”
In an environment where builders don’t have to build green to be competitive, why then does Tyee make the sustainable initiative such a large part of the company mission? Again, Carl’s answer is simple: “We owe it to the world we destroy.”
Bits & Pieces of Green
- Recently, Tyee Homes entered into the process of searching for commercial acreage land to construct what will be the new home of Tyee Homes, in addition to a light industrial/commercial development. Moreover, Carl intends to construct a prefabricated house-building facility—what he believes is the future in residential home building.
- Tyee Homes are big proponents of sealing their homes against air leakage, which they believe is one of the simplest, most economical upgrades. Sealing increases the comfort and energy efficiency of the home, as well as reduces energy bills and carbon emissions.
- Committed to quality products, Carl travelled to Minnesota on a research mission to learn about window product manufacturer, Marvin Windows and Doors—a leading manufacturer with craftsman-quality construction, energy- efficient technology and an extensive selection of options—before committing to a relationship with them.