McNeely Building Group – Improving Air Quality and Energy Performance Every Day
Kevin McNeely, principal of the McNeely Building Group, is an independent, certified energy rater and energy modeler serving the Great Lakes Region. He’s passionate about making buildings more energy efficient and making people more comfortable in their homes and spaces.
Offering performance consulting for several certifications, including RESNET, HERS, ENERGY STAR, DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, Enterprise Green Communities, LEED for Homes, (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and Passive House, McNeely is also involved in local and regional policy and implementation groups.
Here, McNeely shares with SBN Detroit his processes and the “why” behind what he does.
Q: Can you tell us about the McNeely Building Group’s focus?
A: McNeely Building Group’s founding principle is to make buildings more energy efficient. I’ve always believed that people deserve to be in spaces that are energy efficient and comfortable.
I work on everything from consulting on the energy performance and the certification of new builds, to addressing energy and comfort issues in existing dwellings to retrofitting spaces to make them more efficient.
Much of my work is done in the multifamily space toward either LEED certification or the ENERGY STAR Program. I also work with low-income housing units that receive tax incentives to perform energy upgrades and HUD dwellings that receive mortgage insurance reductions upon earning a third-party building certification.
Finally, I also do energy audits and comfort audits for homeowners.
Q: When did you start the business and how?
A: In 2005, I began McNeely Building Group focused on energy-efficient esidential buildings.
I’ve always been passionate about energy efficiency, and after the economic downturn in 2008, I began focusing more on this. In 2010, I joined the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and began seeking credentials to get qualified to work with the various third-party building certification programs including EPA’s Energy Star, Net Zero, USGBC’s LEED and Passive House.
Q: What is your process once you’re engaged with a builder?
A: I usually begin work at the end of the schematics phase, when builders go into design development and start putting together the details of the building. If the builder is working toward ENERGY STAR or LEED Certification or HUD prerequisites I come in and start ensuring these program requirements are met.
For example, the LEED Certification works on a point system. After the prerequisites are met, you gain points for certain efficiencies you build in. So, for example, you can earn a point if you install radon mitigation. I work to ensure these things are built in during the building process, and then I come back in to inspect at the end of the project.
Q: What’s the main impetus behind what you do?
A: Again, I firmly believe that everybody deserves to live in a comfortable and energy-efficient space. I can do that through HVAC performance and building.
I believe buildings can and should be built to a higher efficiency level. This will also help mitigate potential moisture and mold issues and be more comfortable.
I have found that oftentimes builders think that getting stricter in terms of energy efficiency during the building process will be more expensive. But truly, once you’ve gone through three or four builds like this, it’s business as usual, and the outcome is a higher-performance building at about the same cost as traditional construction.
I also encourage building owners to market their energy efficiencies fully. More people are looking to live in energy-efficient and sustainable buildings.
Q: What are some examples of Southeast Michigan clients?
A: I am working with Singh Development on their Park West in Canton Township to earn Energy Star certification. Also, Singh’s The Griffin in Royal Oak is in the process of getting Energy Star certified.
I also work with ACD on its existing properties and new developments.
Q: What are the most impactful things construction companies can do to make a sustainability difference?
A: At the bare minimum build 100% to what you know the code is regardless of what’s being enforced. From there, it does not take much to improve the air quality and energy performance of a building.
And again, don’t be shy about marketing an Energy Star or LEED certification. Step up and let people know the effort you put into your projects, let them know your project has met stricter requirements compared to code.
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