Irresistible Community Builders, LLC presents: Let’s Build Back Greener: A real decarbonization strategy

Green Buildings

By Tom Braford

All roads lead to Rome, as the saying goes. It is similar with conventional community development. There are no shortcuts if you follow the existing prescribed pathways. But what if it were possible to create new, more direct pathways that get us to the destination we really want and need?

In my years as a builder, contractor and community builder, first with historic restoration and then so-called modern green construction, I noticed that our basic way of building with sticks and bricks has not changed much in ages, except to keep increasing the number of specialized trades and the massive investment in tools and equipment needed to apply myriad layers of mostly prefinished materials. Because these come in foot standard dimensions, they generate massive volumes of waste, either at the factory or the job site or both.

Historic St Louis was built by small to medium sized crews with many skills and a limited amount of materials, tools and equipment who took building projects from footings to finish. It was a circular economy, using horses and oxen and drag scoops to excavate for the foundations and transport the clay to local brick kilns and then bring back bricks to build with, along with regionally harvested lumber, milled at local shops.

We now have a system that requires multiple layers of contractors and subcontractors who are qualified and experienced in accomplishing a smaller range of tasks. Virtually nothing is done in-house and even most of the largest developers are paper contractors who employ few in-house employees.

I am not trying to turn back the clock but, informed by the past and present, I am committed to turning it forward instead by reforming and democratizing the community development process.

At Irresistible Community Builders, LLC, we have the luxury of focusing on an approach that combines a limited number of breakthrough technologies to produce carbon negative communities.

As mentioned last month, we are committed to having this be a model of a truly Just Transition. We are interested in partnering with minority entrepreneurs, especially African Americans who bring their lived experience in St Louis. We are making progress with that. If you are interested or can make referrals, please reach out.

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