I don't often have contact with contractors or subcontractors, other than those I meet at trade shows, and they are often a self-selecting group of activists, presenters, and all-round movers and shakers. But of mainstream builders, I know only a few.
We've stayed in touch with our builder since the big renovation almost four years ago, and we know a couple of subs through him. They were all great — helpful, professional, skilled in their ways of doing things. But I wouldn't say any of them were green leaders, by any stretch. Georgie and I were the buyers, of course, and we weren't green leaders either. A couple years after the rehab, which I'm sure we could have approached from a greener perspective, the contractor allowed that "maybe there's something to this green thing" and perhaps he should start paying more attention to it.
Sunday, at my grandmother's 100th birthday party, I had a chance to sit with a couple of successful men in the glass business, and when I said that I am working the green fields, both of them expressed their skepticism with the value of it.
Apparently they'd won a job seeking LEED certification, and had been told he had to source the glass from within 500 miles. One of them couldn't see how that was going to help the buyer, or the builder, or the economy, or anyone.
They seemed to willing to concede, after I replied, that a benefit — in reduced transportation costs and reduced carbon emissions — would accrue over time if builders routinely looked first to local materials.
But one of them said, semi-bitterly, that no one tells the middleman anything. Putting aside one possible response — that middlemen are welcome to educate themselves — I was reminded of Regreen, the LEED-like home interior design paradigm that seeks to bring everyone — owner, designer, contractors, subs — together at the beginning of any project, so that everyone understands what the plans are, and what the standards are.
So far as I know, such collaboration is not part of the LEED schemes, but perhaps it ought to be.