By Erin Crowell
Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Actan extension of
consumer tax incentives originally introduced in the Energy Policy Act
of 2005homeowners are investing in eco-friendly building products now
more than ever.
Businesses all over the country have jumped on board, selling a range
of building products from insulation and interior caulks to solar
Eco-Building Products of Traverse City is just one of those businesses
the only one in the region, for that matter, that has exclusive
rights to certain products.
Our highest demand are products that promote energy efficiency and
energy systems particularly solar energy systems, says general
manager Jim Barnes.
Eco-Building Products sells and installs both solar thermal and
photovoltaic systems. The U.S. Energy Information Administration
reported 90% growth in 2008 for PV cells and modules, partly due to
the 30% Federal investment tax credit.
Its just a matter of getting people eligible for tax credits and
grants, Barnes adds.
MORE THAN A PRODUCT
The company not only sells building products, but also ensures the
consumer is qualified to receive credits, rebates and incentives from
The great thing about our products is that they are eligible for the
incentive tax credits or grants, says Barnes. We help out with grant
writing and Level One energy audits.
So, lets say youre a business owner who wants to go green with
your new building. One way to earn an eco-friendly title is by
achieving LEED certification, a standard set by the U.S. Green
Building Council that designates a building as energy-saving with
little impact on the environment.
Eco-Building Products will guide you along the way, selling products
that meet those standards, as well as providing assistance through the
incentives application process.
Were providing a lot of services, audits and assessments, which
helps you identify the effectiveness of an energy system, says
One example is the companys use of a solar pathfinder, which
determines the amount of sun exposure in a particular area, 10 months
out of the year. Eco-Building Products then assists the customer in
understanding total energy consumption and calculates what kind of
return the customer can expect to see on their investment.
Were really just here to help, Barnes explains.
HEALTH BEFORE WEALTH
The company believes in an environmentally friendly home. Using
information from the EPA (studies showing that indoor air quality in a
newly constructed home is two to five times worse than outdoor air),
the company has developed a product base that improves a buildings
environmental quality products such as natural compound paints,
floor finishes, caulks and adhesives.
Company literature states that conventional building products contain
volatile organic compounds (VOCs), causing illness and symptoms such
as eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, chronic illness and
even central nervous system damage.
Our products are about improving quality of life, says Barnes.
He also adds that although the cost of upgrading to high performance,
environmentally friendly products are more expensive, the cost
difference isnt much (anywhere from one percent to 20% more), the
real difference is about ones health.
Barnes started thinking green several years back when he worked in the
In 1990, Barnes started Northern Delights, a natural foods café
specializing in local and organic food. The Northern Michigan
Environmental Action Council recognized Barnes efforts in creating an
eco-friendly menu, and he was awarded Environmentalist of the Year.
Even though my background is food, it was still green food, says Barnes.
The idea to start a business specializing in eco-building products
came from brother-in-law Larry Kinney, a licensed builder who
specializes in natural building products, such as clay.
He uses the same stuff that a birds nest would be built from, says
Barnes. Hes the one who said, listen man. Hes the one who nudged
me into the business.
Barnes and Kinney launched Eco-Building Products March 2006. Located
in the Warehouse District in Traverse City, the company has seen
We used to operate out of a pole barn, says Barnes. There is a
great future in this business. I do believe we will continue to grow.
Were doing it because we believe in it.
Eco-Building Products is located a stones throw from West Grand
Traverse Bay at 130 Hall Street, TC. More information is available on