New York House Magazine: How long have you been working in home construction?
Joseph Malcarne: All my life. I started when I was three so that would be thirty-five years. My father did it before me, so I really love doing it. There is not a memory that I can recall that doesn’t involve construction. Some of my earliest memories are straightening out nails for my father.
NYH: How long has your company been working in energy efficient systems?
JM: The company here was established on April 26th, 1995. I began getting involved in high efficiency homes in 2004 and it was around 2009 when the company began getting involved in solar paneling and solar heating.
NYH: Where did you learn about solar and geothermal installations?
JM: I’ve known about the technology for a long time. I’ve been doing construction all my life and I had seen the technology. NYSERDA requires some training before they will certify you and that is how I became involved with SUNY Ulster and its green technology programs. The instructor was really great.
NYH: What are some of the programs like? What does the curriculum involve?
JM: With my background in construction I already knew a lot of the electrical aspects of solar technologies. What we learned in class was about was the design and terminology for solar technology; things like how climate, roof temperature and the angles of the panels can affect the system efficiency. We were also trained in how to install the panels. I really enjoyed the course and it really helped me learn everything I needed to know especially in applying for NYSERDA certification.
NYH: You mention energy efficiency plans on your website what exactly does that mean?
JM: Basically we take a look at a current building and try to find ways to reduce the current energy consumption.
NYH: When starting a new construction do you try to include energy efficient systems from the start?
JM: On a new building definitely. With an existing building we will try to find ways to conserve energy. Typically what we look at first is solar thermal because that has the highest pay back and then we look at geothermal. But the main focus with these old buildings is how to reduce current energy consumption and the first approach is conservation. I don’t usually like to say conserve because it makes people think of turning down the thermostat in winter and turning it up during summer. It implies that you are sacrificing comfort for money and I don’t like to think of it that way. We are going to reduce energy consumption but we are doing it by adding insulation and energy efficient appliances and light bulbs.
NYH: So have these energy efficiency practices become common in construction?
JM: On new construction no, not at all. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen that way; they are building homes quicker than I can fit them. I just went down to a newly built home in Poughkeepsie, finished last month, and there was no high efficiency systems built in. The key load of the house was 208,000 BTU’s. If I had designed that house, I would have it down to 50,000 BTU’s. How we build today and how we could build are still a little far off. Yes it costs an extra 50,000 to build it that way but that is for the life of the home and it will use 25% less energy. Houses today are still not built as efficiently as they could be.