Green.org sat down with Mike Roddy, CEO at Butte Built Better, to learn how his company uses sustainable materials for buildings.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I am a UC Berkeley graduate, including a strong academic record. I have built over 600 houses and apartment units with light gauge steel framing. I testified before Congressional Committees (Government Management and Oversight, Interior Appropriations), and am the lead author for Metal Home Digest, in which I have consulted or built in 5 countries.
What is a fun fact about you?
I like to hike and explore rivers in kayaks. We have a house in the Sierras as well as our place in Alameda.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
We are facing enormous problems if we continue to burn fossil fuels and chop down native forests. Substitutes are available, including the kind that I work with (recycled steel, affordable and durable houses, and inert construction materials throughout).
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
That’s up to the steel industry, which no longer supports steel framers due to price spikes a few years ago. Lumber, on the other hand, is heavily subsidized, contains toxic formaldehyde in many applications, and is consumed by insects and rot in a matter of decades. The world laughs at us: our houses last 60 years on average; other countries expect theirs to last for centuries.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Study the longevity, indoor air quality, and environmental impacts of lumber framing. It’s cheap (thanks to subsidies), but is a bad way to build. Beneficiaries are fire insurance firms. industrial logging, and production home builders (who choose the cheapest and most toxic specifications).