Energy goes mainstream

James Kristofferson is one of the many entrepreneurs in the construction trade who’s seeing greenbacks in green technology.

The chief executive officer of the Contractors Supply Club in Brisbane is bringing his one-year-old construction-products business to PCBC The Premier Home Show, which runs this week at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. His lineup includes a number of products designed to increase energy efficiency, including a tankless water heater with a battery backup that sells for less than the $300 federal tax credit for installing the item. The idea is that it doesn’t waste energy heating a tank of water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He’s the sole distributor of this particular model in the U.S., and is hoping the water heater will sell big.

“They generally save you 50 percent on your hot water heating costs,” Kristofferson said.

This year, environmentally-friendlier products have moved so far into the mainstream that several features on the show floor are more noted for their cost-savings for the user than for their green aura. There’s a room-by-room climate control system, more-powerful insulation systems and low-power appliances, items more likely to bring smiles from the person opening the utility bill than gasps from guests. The show, formerly called the Pacific Coast Builders Conference, will also be hosting its first all-day Builder to Builder Green Forum today.

Environmentally-friendlier homes account for about 15 percent to 20 percent of new home construction in the state, according to PCBC spokesman John Frith. The market isn’t driven by consumers, however, according to Jeff Jacobs of the Bay Area division of Centex Homes. Instead, he sees the movement driven by local planning commissions and city councils, who are asking to see greener design when builders try to get clearance to begin construction.

“It can be a suggestion,” Jacobs said. “In some places, it’s a requirement.”

The show has more than 700 exhibitors and expects more than 34,000 attendees, Frith said.

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