Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tips from Brooklyn-Based Sage Consultants

Michael Zawacki of Sage Environments wants to reduce the environmental impact of your home/apartment here in NYC. Let's find out more, shall we?

BGT: When was Sage founded and what do you do?
MZ: Sage was conceived in 2008 and officially launched in 2009.
Sage consults with owners of residential properties and small businesses to improve the overall sustainability of their homes and businesses through measures of energy efficiency, lifestyle, and health. In addition, Sage can participate within 1 to 4 family residential construction projects and work with the project team during a new construction or renovation project. This ensures that the appropriate measures are being taken within the project that are in line with the client's sustainability goals.

BGT: Why Brooklyn?
MZ: Brooklyn, in addition to many sections of New York City is home to thousands of 1 to 4 family homes that are in need of energy efficiency improvements and there is a growing market of citizens that are concerned about issues related to the green movement.

BGT: What's the best part of your job?
MZ: Working to improve the lives of people and their built environment. Knowing that I am contributing to the paradigm shift in how we interact with our homes and the changes related to an emerging green economy is very exciting. The green movement is my passion, and I get to work within a field that is changing our world.

BGT: Can you share one of your funniest experiences with a client?
MZ: Sorry, I'll have to take the 5th on that one :)

BGT: Is it better to make recommendations to a home-owner versus a renter because they have more decision-making power to implement your recommendations?
MZ: A homeowner has far more control and has the liberty to enact most if not all of the recommendations that are provided. However, renters are a huge component of New York City, and even though they generally cannot make significant changes to their living space, everything helps. If thousands of renters are doing small things like changing their light bulbs, painting with zero VOC paint, reducing energy consumption, using non-toxic cleaning products, and recycling it adds up quickly.

BGT: What distinguishes Sage from other eco-consultants?
MZ: The philosophy of Sage is different than others as there is an added focus on the construction component in addition to lifestyle. While it is important to enact measures that are sustainable, it must be remembered that construction cost analysis and feasibility studies are pivotal. If the cost of making an energy efficiency improvement to the home is out of reach for most people or it does not have a reasonable rate of return, then this is not sustainable from a cost standpoint. Sage views sustainability through a lens of cost as well as environmental benefit.

Some Tips from Sage
If you own your home:
- Perform regular maintenance on your boiler or furnace annually - Check doors and windows for drafts. Apply weatherstripping and door sweeps - Install a programmable thermostat - Get an energy audit done on your home - Weatherize your windows for the heating season - If you have a forced air system, make sure your filters are clean. Clogged filters reduce the efficiency of the HVAC system.

If you rent or own:
- Install low flow shower heads to reduce your water consumption as well as your gas or electric bill depending on the system that heats the water - To reduce the gallons per flush, place a brick or other heavy object in the tank. Make sure the object is clean and will not flake off in the tank, which could interfere with plumbing mechanisms - Install cellular window treatments (blinds), which can increase the R-value to slow heat loss/gain - Install aerators on your faucets, which reduce water consumption - Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs everywhere you can - Use non-toxic cleaners or better yet, make your own. - Switch to Green Power. Most utilities offer a green option. It does not cost much more and you can feel good knowing you are helping to accelerate the developement of renewable energy.

Learn More.

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