Session Number 332

Thursday, October 29, 2020

2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Click here to view program.

The Pretty Good House -

the Non-Rating System You Never Knew You Needed!

Dan Kolbert - Building Contractor

Kolbert Building, Portland, Maine

Steve Konstantino - Founder & Owner

Performance Building Supply, Portland, Maine

Mike Maines - Founder & Owner

Michael Maines Residential Design, Palermo, Maine

Chris Briley, LEED AP, CPHC, Maine registered architect

Briburn Architects, Portland Maine 

Emily Mottram - Architect

Mottram Architecture, Minot, Maine

Robert Swinburne, Architect, LLC

Brattleboro, Vermont

About this program:

The Pretty Good House developed out of a decade-old building science discussion group. It quickly developed a life of its own and is discussed nation-wide. It seeks to answer some basic questions in a non-prescriptive way: how do insure, in design and construction, that your homes are energy efficient, provide good IAQ, are environmentally responsible, and will last as long, with as little maintenance, as possible.


The first 60-minute session would discuss the history of the idea, how it started and developed, how it has been adapted from its start in a cold climate to versions in other climate zones, the development of specific tools, and why we think it is a valuable resource.


The second 60-minute session would discuss the "hows" of PGH - what are the steps to follow design to insure that the right questions are asked and answered? What details are critical in construction to insure comfort, IAQ, and durability? 


Specific issues and learning goals:


-What is the decision-making process in Pretty Good House (PGH)?


-How does PGH insure energy efficiency, IAQ, occupant comfort? 


-What are good methods for balancing first costs (design and construction) with ongoing costs (mortgage, utility, upkeep)?


-How to create a process that provides maximum benefit to client, designer, and builder?

About the Presenter(s):


Dan Kolbert has worked as a carpenter and contractor in Portland, ME for 3 decades, focusing on energy efficient and healthy new homes and renovations. He sits on the advisory committee of several Maine trade school programs at the high school and college level, has written for the Journal of Light Construction, Green Building Advisor, and Fine Homebuilding, and for the past decade has been the moderator of the Building Science Discussion Group, where the Pretty Good House idea began.

Steve Konstantino is the founder of Performance Building Supply. PBS opened in 2002 with the mission of helping builders build better by sourcing superior products and technical information to supply to construction professionals. PBS is focused primarily on high-performance European Windows & Doors, air-sealing / weather barrier tapes & membranes, and cabinetry as well as many other products from Europe and the US. 

PBS is the official e-commerce partner for SIGA tapes & membranes in the US and operates the website.


Steve’s mission is also to provide technical expertise and support for all the products they sell. He provides both design support and on-site installation training. He enjoys teaching building science principles and reviewing construction details.


Steve, along with Dan Kolbert, started the original Building Science Discussion Group in the PBS warehouse in the spring of 2009.

Michael Maines attended Tufts University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, with a minor in Architectural Studies, graduating with honors and with an award for entrepreneurial achievement. Throughout his career, he had studied building science and energy efficiency, and the more he learned, the more frustrated he grew with not being able to convince clients to implement strategies that were better for the environment. He had been interested in the Passive House building energy standard since he had first learned about it in 2006, and got a job with one of the premier builders of Passive Houses in the US, who happened to be starting a shop to build the most energy efficient buildings in the world, indoors, in Searsmont, Maine. Michael learned a whole new paradigm during his 15 months as an employee there, and subsequently earned the designation “Certified Passive House Consultant.”  In early 2015 he started a new firm, Michael Maines Residential Design. Not every client is interested in building a certified Passive House, but he works with them to find a balance of efficiency and cost, while making sure that the home or renovation is beautiful, functional and healthy for its occupants and the environment. He works all over Maine and New England, and sometimes beyond, using the advantages of digital communication whenever possible.

Chris Briley is a founding partner and principal architect at BRIBURN. In late 2012 he teamed up with Architect Harry Hepburn and founded BRIBURN where they practice “architecture for life”, specializing in energy efficient, environmentally friendly design. For seven years prior to this he was the principal architect and founder of the Green Design Studio in Yarmouth, Maine. Chris is a Maine Licensed Architect and a Certified Passive House Consultant. He is an adviser and blogger at and co-host of the Green Architects’ Lounge podcast. He is an enthusiastic participant and part-time moderator for the Building Science Discussion Group in Portland, Maine, a founding member of the USGBC Maine Chapter, and a founding board member of the passivhausMAINE.

Emily Mottram developed an interest in building science and sustainable design in college. And if she hadn’t gotten into architecture school, she would have gone to school for science. So maybe she's always been a little nerdy. She started doing energy engineering work that taught her  how to look at buildings just a little bit differently. That’s when she knew she had found her true passion. This led her to start designing energy efficient, zero energy ready, and super insulated homes. But even that wasn’t enough. Your home has to be somewhere you WANT to live. It has to be comfortable, durable, healthy, and beautiful. Because, she believes homes have an impact on your physical, social, mental and economic well-being. And that was what she thought Maine needed and is the foundation that she has built Mottram Architecture on.

Robert Swinburne

The traditional architect-led design and building process can work very well for some types of projects but High Performance homes require a high performance process. A High Performance process requires an integrated team from day one…before the design sketches start to fly! Ideally, the builder becomes part of the team very early in the design process to help vet the design for cost, detailing, and buildability. 

Program Level: Basic

Content Area(s): Building Design & Construction (including Green), Energy Efficiency, High Performance Buildings

Maine Indoor Air Quality Council
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Augusta, Maine  04338-2438

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