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Eco-Building Products

Erin Crowell - May 31st, 2010
Catching the ‘Green’ Wave:: Eco-Building Products
By Erin Crowell
Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—an extension of
consumer tax incentives originally introduced in the Energy Policy Act
of 2005—homeowners 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
energy systems.
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.
“It’s 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 government.
“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, let’s say you’re 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.
“We’re providing a lot of services, audits and assessments, which
helps you identify the effectiveness of an energy system,” says
Barnes.
One example is the company’s 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.
“We’re 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 building’s
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 isn’t much (anywhere from one percent to 20% more), the
real difference is about one’s health.
Barnes started thinking green several years back when he worked in the
restaurant industry.
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 bird’s nest would be built from,” says
Barnes. “He’s the one who said, ‘listen man.’ He’s 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
steady growth.
“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.
We’re doing it because we believe in it.”

Eco-Building Products is located a stone’s throw from West Grand
Traverse Bay at 130 Hall Street, TC. More information is available on
their website:
eco-buildingproducts.com.

 
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