Heartland Homes Takes Holistic Approach to ‘Green Building’

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Heartland Homes takes great care in making sure that the materials they use in their homes are of the highest quality and energy effecient, but also that the manufacturing process used to create and deliver those materials is as green as possible.

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“It’s a much more complete picture than just Energy Star" - Alan Gillespie

Heartland Homes, Pittsburgh's #1 custom home builder, puts a lot of time and effort into making sure they build some of the most energy efficient homes in the area, but that isn’t where it ends. “Energy efficiency and saving money on utilities is only one piece of the green puzzle,” says Heartland founder Alan Gillespie. “Higher indoor air quality, increased comfort, and environmental impact are just as important.” That, says Alan, is why Heartland developed the Heartland Healthy Home as a series of included features put into every home they build. “It’s a much more complete picture than just Energy Star,” he says. “It’s really resonated with customers and is a big reason why we are having our best year ever.”

“We take great care in making sure that the materials we use in our homes are of the highest quality, but also that the manufacturing process used to create and deliver those materials is as green as possible,” says Liam Brennan director of purchasing and costing. “Our customers ultimately care most about their own home, but they also appreciate knowing that we and our partners are taking the extra steps to have a positive impact on the environment.”

  • Example – Andersen Corporation was named an Energy Star 2010 partner of the year, given to manufacturers that deliver Energy Star qualified products that help save on energy costs, and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing. An environmentally responsible corporate citizen, Andersen gets over 70% of its wood from sustainable forests. Wood by-products are used as the main energy source for their factory so they aren’t increasing the need for fossil fuel power, and there is less waste from their manufacturing process than from any other window company.
  • Example – Whirlpool (maker of Whirlpool, Kitchen-Aid, and Jenn-Air) was the first company to ever receive the Sustained Excellence Award from Energy Star for their commitment to staying ahead of the environmental curve. The award is only given to companies that exhibit outstanding environmental leadership. The company’s long-term commitment to environmental protection began with the creation of a corporate office for environmental control, established before the Environmental Protection Agency came into existence. Energy efficiency, of course, remains a priority. One example: Cleaning a load of dishes in one of Whirpool’s dishwashers is the cost equivalent of a US postage stamp because they maximize efficiency.
  • Example – Kohler Co. makes a priority of being good stewards of the environment and creating safe, healthy work environments. Because of extensive research and product development, Kohler offers a spectrum of choices in water-saving products for both residential and commercial applications. Kohler’s involvement in WaterSense, (similar to Energy Star but focused on conserving water – not on reducing heating/cooling costs), an Environmental Protection Agency partnership program, promotes water-efficient products, programs and practices throughout the U.S. Products bearing the WaterSense label offer significant water savings and meet strict performance standards.
  • Example – Lennox is the world leader in indoor air quality and has earned the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for their HVAC products. A four-time winner of the Energy Star Manufacturing Partner of the Year Award, Lennox has built a legacy of innovative firsts. Lennox technologies deliver the ultimate in quiet, consistent heating and cooling.
  • Example – Another consideration in green building is color, and PPG understands that sustainability is a driving design factor on projects nationwide. PPG is committed to making environmentally progressive products, including paint. The company has re-engineered many of the manufacturing processes at its paint facilities to minimize energy consumption, improve air and water quality and cut waste. Many of PPG’s paint lines have zero or low volatile organic compound (VOC) contents enabling them to assist homebuilders in building green. Pittsburgh Paints Pure Performance was the first national brand paint to receive Green Seal Class certification for meeting environmental standards.

Heartland’s commitment to energy efficiency and the environment has not gone unnoticed by suppliers that share these concerns. “We give a lot of credit to Heartland Homes for what it has done, and is doing, in terms of ‘green’ practices in the homes it builds,” said Tim Rethlake, Vice President of Sales for Heat & Glo Fireplaces. “It is challenging. Every lot where a new home is built is like a small factory where, on average, 22,000 components go into the house.”

Heat & Glo Fireplaces, Rethlake says, adheres to a “lean” policy designed to make the least possible impact on the environment in all respects, from the raw materials used to manufacturing processes to product delivery. For its “lean” philosophy and manufacturing performance, Heat & Glo Fireplaces parent company was awarded the Shingo Prize, called the “Nobel Prize of manufacturing” by a leading business publication.

The final ingredient that Heartland feels is so important is that they are a local company working with local businesses-and supporting the local economy. “Our main office is located right here in the South Hills,” says Scott Blodgett, Chief Operating Officer at Heartland. “We buy our faucets from Kohler, but they are supplied, delivered, and installed by a local small business owner-and at the end of the day any profit we make is reinvested right here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. It isn’t sent back to some other fr away place.”

If being a green company means being responsible, doing the right thing, and giving back to your community-then Heartland Homes is certainly a green company to be proud of.


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Kevin Oakley

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