MADISON, Wis. - Nikki Krueger felt it was time to learn more about the green building industry. Rather than reading from a book or browsing the Internet, the media relations manager of Aprilaire decided to get a real feel for green building certification standards so she recently completed a comprehensive training session and passed a verifier accreditation test administered by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center.
Krueger is the first Aprilaire employee to gain this verification and one of only 250 people in the United States to pass the certification test. In an Aprilaire press release she said, “Since Aprilaire is a known leader and driver of innovation in these product categories, it made sense that we needed an in-house expert to understand the growing needs and expectation of the green building industry.”
Q&A WITH THE NEWSThe NEWS recently asked Krueger about the importance of being a green verifier.
NEWS: In your own words, why did you want to become a verifier?
Krueger: In the last couple of years, we have been hearing from builders and HVAC contractors who were using Aprilaire products to meet green certification standards in homes across the country. We started looking closer at different certification programs and found out that some of them even specifically name our products in the standards. In order to understand the different needs of certification programs across the country, and to become actively involved in helping set the standards; we recognized the need of having an in-house expert. Of course, becoming a verifier is just the first step and as new green technologies and building practices emerge, we will seek out additional educational and certification opportunities.
As an organization, we want to proactively educate builders and HVAC contractors on what the standards are and how our products help them meet them. We needed to understand the evolving building technologies and requirements and how they affect indoor air quality. We have also been approached by several local and national green organizations about becoming active members, which told us that we needed an on-staff expert who could be involved and stay abreast of the green issues.
NEWS: How long did it take you to study for and to pass this test?
Krueger: There are home building and green building prerequisites that you have to meet in order to register for the National Green Building Certification course offered by the NAHB. Once accepted, the course is two full days of training with a test at the end. You have the option of taking the test the last day of the course or you can study more and take it online. It is an open book test but the questions are really tough and you need to understand every detail that goes into building a new home in order to pass.
NEWS: Do you expect other Aprilaire professionals to follow your example? Why?
Krueger: Our commitment to a healthy and sustainable environment expands beyond just the air inside the home. As a company, we are constantly looking at ways we can minimize our impact on the earth by reducing our carbon footprint. We realize that it is important for people to buy products from companies they feel good about. That is why we take great strides to ensure both our products and our company reflect a green way of thinking.
I think once the building industry starts recovering, we may have more people from Aprilaire go through the training. Right now, I work very closely with our product managers to make sure they are up to speed on the current green standards for their products. We also keep our field sales force informed of current green issues and opportunities. We look to them to help educate contractors on what Aprilaire products help their builders meet green indoor air quality standards.
NEWS: Do you think green will be the most profitable catchword for HVAC industry professionals in the coming years? Why?
Krueger: Green will be profitable for the HVAC industry if approached correctly. It is important that our industry embraces the opportunity in a responsible fashion. Meaning that not only do we recognize that indoor air quality plays an integral role in building green homes, but we also practice reducing our carbon footprints at the office and at home. We also need to be cautious on how we market green when promoting HVAC products and services, as consumers are being inundated with “green washing.”
NEWS: Will green technology play an important role in revitalizing the down building industry?
Krueger: I am not sure that green will revitalize the building industry, as there are much larger fundamental issues holding the industry down. However, green technology will be a much larger part of the building industry as it has become mainstream for almost every aspect of our lives. With the cost of building and living green coming down and consumers being bombarded with green issues, builders and contractors will need to rethink what products and services they offer and how green will fit into their business models moving forward.
For more information, visit www.nahbrc.org and www.aprilaire.com.
Publication date: 01/19/2009