Park City Area Home Builders Association takes the process of building a family’s home very seriously.
by their nature, professional associations often work so much in the background we are very unaware of their important contributions to the community. So it is with the non-profit Park City Area Home Builders Association, or PCAHBA (www.pcahba.com).
By taking a closer look, it is possible to see how the Association provides cohesiveness to the building community by the networking it affords, and how the education programs and standards benefit all those who live in the area.
“If someone is considering a remodel, addition, or new home, I would recommend that they start by talking to one of our members,” advised Geri Strand, Executive Officer for PCAHBA (www.pcahba.com). “It is the best place to start because the organization holds them to higher standards.” She supports this by explaining that as contractors team with architects, designer and landscapers and hire subcontractors and suppliers, they are well acquainted with reputations for professionalism and ethics through the close networking at PCAHBA. “They use each other’s products and services and rely on references from other members. In essence, the members are the cream of the building community.”
Strength from a National Organization PCAHBA is a local association member of the NAHB, the National Association of Home Builders. One of the important goals that NAHB sets is “providing and expanding opportunities for all consumers to have safe, decent, and affordable housing.” As a local association, PCAHBA benefits from the national association’s program offerings, chief of which is the annual International Builders’ Show. At this trade show and conference, 100,000 attendees gather to see new building products, listen to presentations on new trends, issues and procedures, receive training for certificates and license renewals, and exchange stories and cards with colleagues that broaden their network. The NAHB also operates a research center for third-party evaluation and testing of products and materials, including those for green building. This independent verification process documents the manufacturers’ claims and pretests building materials, taking the risks out of trying something new. The associations in Utah also meet together at the state level and cooperate with training.
PCAHBA Challenges Members PCAHBA is a particularly large and active local association. Founded in 1992, there are 315 members and the geographic area includes Summit, Wasatch, and Duchesne Counties. A third of these members are builders and the others are associates with ties to the building community.
Monthly, 80-140 members meet for a short membership meeting and social hosted by members on a rotating basis at different locations. The high attendance at these meetings indicates how valuable the members find them. In addition, there are six continuing education classes offered per year on important topics, and attendance goes to renewing the contractors’ licenses. Probably some of the most popular events are the ski and golf days, and family mixers.
Park City Area Showcase of Homes How the community best knows the PCAHBA is through the annual Park City Area Showcase of Homes. This has been an annual event since 1993. It requires an enormous commitment of volunteer hours from the Association. In addition, members open homes they have completed to the public for a three-week period in early fall. The Showcase of Homes is also an important fundraiser for the non-profit PCAHBA. In 2008, the Showcase featured 22 homes and 6,000 people toured. Many of those that come on the tour attend every year. PCAHBA donates some of the proceeds to a charitable foundation that supports community-based non-profit groups that include the People’s Health Clinic, Habitat for Humanity, and the Children’s Justice Center.
Build Green Utah Build Green Utah is now under the umbrella of PCAHBA. It was started as a Leadership Park City class project a few years ago to initiate interest in green building. Now, Build Green Utah provides indispensable training and guidance for green building in the region for builders, architects and supporting professionals.
Build Green Utah advocates two types of green building certifications: the LEED for Homes and Built Green programs. The US Green Building Council established the nationally recognized LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, and endorses Build Green Utah as a LEED provider. The other program, Built Green, was developed in Colorado and transfers well to the climate conditions and mountain lifestyle of Utah. After 13 years of field-testing and refinement, Built Green offers another alternative for certification through third party verification. To assist with independent verification, Build Green Utah maintains a list of certified verifiers for both programs. According to Geri Strand, five homes have been certified, and about 25 more are in the pipeline advancing toward certification in 2009. Build Green is certainly making progress toward its goal of certifying more green homes. Joining Build Green requires an additional membership for members of PCAHBA, and most find it worthwhile, as it identifies their support for green building and opens the door to a generous training program in the principles and practices of sustainable design and construction.
In November 2008, the Build Green University attracted 90 attendees to a two-day training. These attendees spent the first full day in the classroom and the second day in the field. One of the second day’s educational highlights was conducting a blower test to verify the tightness of the building envelope. There has also been strong participation in the other training offerings for green building. These covered the topics that included site design and solar orientation, footings & foundations, framing and roofing, performance, thermal envelope efficiencies, heating & cooling, and selling high-performance homes. For attending these trainings, contractors received credits for continuing education.
Community Resource With Park City Area Home Builders Association so involved in the community, it is difficult to imagine what our community would be without it. However, the Park City area is unique in having such a resource. In most other mountain resort communities, there isn’t a similar organization to raise the bar to educate and make construction better. Nor, is there an organization that serves as the central point for green building training and certification. In comparable communities, grass roots groups staffed by volunteers are pulling green building conferences, tours and trainings together and trying to create a community of like-minded people. With PCAHBA and Build Green Utah serving the construction community, we are well ahead in making green building just how business is done and ensuring the best in quality construction. For a group that is largely unrecognized, for a brief moment, hats off to the members and staff of this great community resource for all they do.