Green by Design’s Ron Rego (left) and Shawn Stark stand in front of the turbine display inside the showroom of their business in Bowling Green, Ohio.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - When it came time to build a better mousetrap, Shawn Stark decided to go green - green technology that is. The president of Stark’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. was looking to add another location to its existing service and replacement divisions in Bryan and Defiance, Ohio. He has always been intrigued by energy efficiency and environmentally safe solutions to his customers’ energy needs. So, Stark brought it all together in his company’s newest venture: Green by Design.

The new business recently opened in Bowling Green to a very receptive and curious audience. “We want to take the lead in this technology,” he said. “Consumers want this, but unfortunately not a lot of builders have embraced green technology. We want to educate everyone. There is a little bit of green in everything we do.”

The new location is in the perfect community, too. “Being in a college community (nearby is Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo), there seems to be more knowledge about green technology,” said Stark.

It also helps to be within eyesight of the giant wind farm operated by the city of Bowling Green. The farm has four turbines that are 257 feet tall. These turbines generate up to 7.2 megawatts of power - enough to supply electricity for some 3,000 residents.

“A group of people drove all of the way from Cincinnati to see the farm and visit with us,” said Stark.

Stark admitted that a lot of people have stopped by the new location to find out more about the turbine on the front lawn, too. “The turbine gets people in here,” he said. “It has brought in a lot of traffic and that is good because people can learn about everything we do. And turbine power is an untapped resource around here.”

The other things people are learning about at Green by Design include a showroom full of cutting-edge technology including radiant floor heating, programmable zoning systems, dehumidifying units, ventilation/dilution systems, canvas ductwork, Solatube day lighting, tankless water heaters, and waterless urinals, to name a few green technologies.

All of these technologies are incorporated into the building’s design, which was originally mapped out by Stark. Other parts of the construction include marmoleum flooring, which is made from renewable materials, natural slate flooring, recycled plastic parking blocks, IceStone counter tops, which are made from recycled glass and concrete, and steel ceilings and walls because steel is a 98 percent recyclable material.

Visitors to the remodeled building are also learning some important facts about Stark’s and the green movement. The company is a member of the United States Green Building Council and is pursuing accreditation from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Digital thermostats and zoning systems are some of the equipment that Rego and Stark are proud of at Green by Design.

Ron Rego, Stark’s Northeast Ohio regional manager, said the presence of Green by Design in the community will help raise the professional bar among HVAC contractors. “We are not here to put anyone out of business,” he said. “Our competitors need to raise their levels and become stronger.”

Stark agreed, “The HVAC trade should be known for innovation and the green movement and not for the negative stories often carried in the press.”

Rego also believes that having an innovative business in the community will be a plus for attracting more people to the HVAC trade. “Having green technology makes it more exciting for our employees,” he said. “It is hard not to get excited about the business. You can touch and learn, adjust, and play with things.”

“Workers want to go to a place where there is innovation,” said Stark. “They don’t want to become stale. I am assembling a training budget for each technician. My goal is to have them all NATE-certified and better educated.”

Green by Design will continue to bring people into the showroom as customers and employees - not too bad for this rural Northern Ohio HVAC contractor.

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Publication date:05/21/2007