I’ve been in Seattle the last few days to attend the Passive House Northwest Conference. The German Passive House energy efficiency standard is alive and well here in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps moreso than almost anywhere else in the country. Beyond lectures on earthquake stabilized R-35 foundation details and vapor open assembly design, I’ve been here to represent Zola Windows– high performance European built windows. Energetechs represents Zola because there are no windows made in the United States that absorb more radiant energy than they release in conductive heat loss (standby for an explanation) in the Missoula climate. Only the Europeans make these things, and surprisingly, it makes sense to bring them here.
Zola is a young company run by a brilliant Swiss Architect out of Colorado who started the company at age 26. Like many of the other awesome people I’ve met through the Passive House movement, his core motivation was to maximize the sustainability of buildings and knew that high performance windows are a key part of the equation. He saw the niche, and had the guts to fill it.
I admire him for the fact that he runs a very successful company that he built, from the ground up, and still finishes his day in time to pick up his young child from day care. He figured out that selling hours as an architect limited his impact, when he could have both more personal time, and more impact by selling what he knew was really part of the problem. I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking- “I’m in the wrong game.” I am unimpressed with what I have accomplished in my life, and that frustrates me. This post had previously slammed my friend because I was, on a deep level, jealous of his success- and in a way, knowing him makes me question some of the hard choices I’ve made.
There are many parts to be played in fixing our buildings. Zola fills an essential need. Skilled and talented contractors are clutch. An engaged populace is the foundation. Manufacturer, builder, consumer- what part are you going to play to maximize your impact on the problem at hand?