From LED lights to smart windows, to sustainable energy hubs, green technology has so much to offer the modern homeowner. If navigating the pathways to sustainability is the challenge. LEED Initiatives are the solution. Matthew Zirkelbach is the President and Founder of RunBrook, a leader in sustainability. Read our interview with him as he enlightens us on the possibilities in energy-efficient smart design.
RunBrook and SustainaBase
Acoustic Architects (AA): You have a background in Environmental Science, tell me your story. How did you get into your current position?
Matt Zirkelbach (MZ): My career started in environmental permitting with an engineering company. But I already had a passion for green building and sustainability. Then in 2009, the economy slowed down, presenting an opportunity to get the certifications I needed to open my own business and take on my first clients.
AA: What was the inception of your company?
MZ: The idea was to help builders figure out ways to be more sustainable. And green is the best way. It reduces energy and natural resource consumption. We wanted to streamline the business, change the formula, and therefore scale-up the way it is done.
AA: What are LEED Consulting Services?
MZ: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a 3rd party rating system that includes Energy Modeling, Water Conservation, Air Quality, Waste & Materials, and Site & Location. Our LEED services ensure a building comes out above code. We work with designers and architects in the early phases of the design to ensure they meet all the green requirements.
AA: What is a Green Rater?
MZ: Green rating is a category in LEED Consulting. It is a 3rd party verification that tests a building’s energy efficiency.
AA: How do RunBrook’s strategies create a healthy home and lower operating costs?
MZ: We are an entire point of service. Throughout the design phase, we are addressing all aspects of energy efficiency. A healthy home includes indoor air quality. So we want to coach designers not only on the right VOC material choices but also on the technological side to efficiently filter out contaminants that inevitably end up in the home.
Our initiatives lower operating costs of the home with inclusivity of LED lighting, great HVAC, and solar power systems. Water conservation includes low flow fixtures and specialized faucets in the design. While landscaping is geared toward drought-tolerant engineering and rainwater capture.
AA: How can your customers benefit from federal incentives and tax deductions from incorporating RunBrook technologies?
MZ: We incentivize builders to go above code. If clients can demonstrate they’ve met these incentives, then they get the tax credits, deductions, or other incentives. Those can come from utility and mortgage companies as well. RunBrook provides documentation, verification, and submissions for the client. So they are aware of all the incentives. And we’ve made it very easy for them.
AA: Tell us about the different rating systems available to clients.
MZ: We have four main rating systems available to customers. They are LEED, National Green Building Standard, Florida Green Building Coalition, and Green Globes. RunBrook helps customers select the one best suited to their needs. Some cities have mandatory requirements for meeting certain rating systems. LEED is required by Miami. We want to help our clients find the most effective way to comply.
AA: How do your specialists simplify and add value to the building process for Multi-family Developers?
MZ: Because we do not specialize in just one rating system, but rather have knowledge of all the systems, we can help our customers select the best option. Green building adds value and offers a competitive advantage. The developer will stand out as a green builder. And the homeowner has the upper advantage of being more sustainable than the next person. Our services enhance the brand. A builder advertising as LEED certified has an upper advantage over their competitors.
AA: How do your streamlined services benefit Architects and Engineers?
MZ: Navigating the rating system is complicated, time-consuming, and daunting for the customer. So we’ve developed a software platform called SustainaBase. This allows us to transition our services from standard professional to more integrative. Which offers customers better tools of navigation. SustainaBase provides team collaboration tools, sharing of design tips, and visualization of collected data. Our advantage is the unique combination of professional consulting and software as a service.
AA: What service can your team offer when it comes to luxury home development?
MZ: Luxury development includes a strong budget for sustainability and supports the inclusion of complicated green technology within the framework. Higher-end developments tend to lead in cutting edge design. Therefore, these projects showcase emerging technologies like Solar Energy Solutions and Tesla’s Powerwall. Luxury home automation presents the opportunity to increase energy efficiency.
Energy Efficient Automation
AA: When did you first meet Acoustic Architects? How are you working symbiotically to meet each other’s needs?
MZ: We were introduced less than a year ago while working on a luxury home project. Acoustic Architects were part of the design team. They have a really intuitive understanding of infrastructure possibilities. And an ability to quickly carve out a plan to make each design more sustainable. They capitalize on the new building automation technology, for a smart responsive space. The smarter the building, the less energy it uses.
AA: How has your relationship with Acoustic Architects changed since you first teamed up?
MZ: It is a new relationship but we’ve already learned a lot from each other. They’ve helped us to understand smart systems from a green building perspective and brought more awareness to our team. Some of the technology is very cutting edge. We’ve enjoyed applying it to our projects.
AA: What do you value the most about collaborating with Acoustic Architects?
MZ: Finding innovative ways to add value to the customer experience. People are very happy with their smart homes.
AA: How has smart home automation changed your approach to LEED Building Initiatives?
MZ: It has opened up our team’s eyes to how building automation can actually attribute to green features. We now understand the impact of smart home technology.
AA: On the subject of home automation, what are your clients most excited about?
MZ: They are very interested in being able to operate their buildings from afar.
AA: Can you share any stories about projects that have included home automation?
MZ: We’ve done some projects in Miami Beach that included Solar Battery backup systems. Acoustic Architects coordinated the systems, plotted where the energy would go, and decided what would receive power. These innovative solutions contribute to less dependency on grid technology and more autonomy for the homeowner.
AA: Now that home automation is so prominent, what does the future look like for green and sustainable building?
MZ: The future is more integration between home automation and sustainability. Green building rating systems are now becoming standard. There is a point opportunity for capitalizing off smart home technology with extra points awarded for LED lights, smart metering, water conservation features, and more. Incentivized plans will help drive the movement.
AA: Any word of advice to your colleagues and partners regarding home automation?
MZ: Learn about it. Understand it. Figure out a way to leverage it to be more sustainable because it is a real opportunity.
Responsive Living, the term coined by Acoustic Architects founders, Aaron Flint and Spencer Hauldren, is the concept of seamlessly enhancing the client’s unique lifestyle using smart home technology. Responsive Living allows you to interact with your space via touch input, voice command, and predictive automation, placing you in full control of your home.
If you would like to learn more about home automation, feel free to connect with us. We will be happy to schedule a demo with you.
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