NARI’s green education program introduces a different way of thinking

Hallie Bowie, GCP, architect and owner of New Leaf Home Design, based in Akron, Ohio, earned her Green Certified Professional (GCP) designation through NARI in 2007 when it was first introduced to the remodeling community. Back then, Bowie says, green remodeling was a “new thing.”

“When I took the course, there wasn’t as much widespread acceptance as there is now—commercial building standards today require many green practices, and the passive house movement hadn’t been developed,” Bowie says.

However, the many important things that Bowie learned by taking the GCP course have not only given her a leg up but also given her a different state of mind when approaching a remodeling project.

“[The course] was my first introduction to looking at the whole house as a system and making me consider the impact the improvement will make on the rest of the home,” Bowie says.

For example, Bowie says that if the client wants a large kitchen hood, then she automatically thinks about the air flow and including proper ventilation; otherwise the home will have moisture issues.

Bowie always keeps the importance of air sealing and insulation to build a thermal envelope on the home top of mind. That is one of the things she learned during the GCP course, and she uses that knowledge most frequently to this day.

Having this broader knowledge of green practices is what Bowie believes has made her services relevant in today’s market. “I’ve never built a straw bale house, and most clients don’t come to me for a LEED-certified home, but I do spend more time and consideration on the systems and green elements that make sense to incorporate into a remodel,” she says.

Bowie also like the fact that the course focused solely on green remodeling and not green building like other courses she’s taken. “It is more challenging to make an existing home green because there’s always a limit to what you can do, but focusing on what you can do or cannot do to increase home performance is what is unique,” she says.

The GCP program was especially helpful to Bowie because of the convenience and the content. She participated in the virtual study course and was happy that she could do it from the comfort of her home office.

What surprised her about the virtual course was that the student/teacher interaction wasn’t lost either. “The virtual class was very interactive between the teachers and students—there was plenty of back and forth discussion,” she says. –Morgan Zenner

The next Green Certified Professional virtual study group starts Jan. 16, 2013, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Central time for 12 weeks. Click here to download the GCP class enrollment form.

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