“It seems like we're always behind the rest of the nation when we move forward with something like this,” he said.
Reitz said he suspects that's because green building tends to carry a high up-front cost. The homeowner generally recoups that cost fairly quickly in savings on their utility bills. But faced with the choice between spending thousands of dollars on a ground-source heat pump or the same amount on granite counter tops, green building often becomes a secondary priority.
“Granite counter tops is going to win 99 times out of 100,” he said.
Terry Clinefelter, a construction instructor at OSU-OKC, said he's seen St. Jude homes go up in the Oklahoma City area for several years. While they tend to be nice homes, Clinefelter said, they aren't typically as energy efficient as they could be.
So Clinefelter connected Reitz with industry partners and other OSU-OKC instructors to discuss what resources they could bring to the project.
Since then, the project has received a donation of a geothermal heating system — a gift worth about $30,000, including installation, Reitz said.
As helpful as donations and industry involvement have been in the project, Clinefelter said, it's also helpful to have Reitz involved. A major factor in green building projects is the people who are on site day after day.
Reitz has a large base of knowledge in green building, Clinefelter said, meaning he'll be able to offer expertise throughout the project rather than simply on a consulting basis. Having that expertise on site can make the operation run more smoothly, he said, and eliminate mistakes and problems.
“Small mistakes can add up to big costs,” he said.