Twitterview with Michael Anschel, @michaelanschel

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Welcome everybody to the Twitterview of @michaelanschel. Let’s get started!

Michael: Awesome!

@michaelanschel Share some of your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in building/construction?

Michael: I grew up right here in the city. Parents moved from Edina to Mpls so I could get a better education. They made the right move

I was interested in ceramics and botany, actually. Homes were never on my radar outside of political context.

In fact, I had a full ride out to Bates in Maine to work on genetically modifying food crops for brackish environments.. but

I went to China and stayed there for a couple years, then Japan for a year, and then back to MN. School again, handyman work..

..which led to restoration work, which led to remodeling, which led to building. Design was always a passion.

The underlying current of Green building and design really stems from living in the city with parents who cared about health

Interesting. So explain what it means to build something Green. Are all of the materials recycled necessarily?

Michael: Starting with the easy questions, eh? What does it mean to build something Green?

Green is generally misunderstood by most people. The energy people think it is energy, materials people- stuff.

Green is really about process. It is a large umbrella that incorporates issues of energy, materials, people, land, etc

The trick with Green is to understand the trade-offs between each interest and the interconnected nature of everything.

If I build a home with recycled stuff, but don’t understand moisture movement through the enclosure (wall/roof). FAIL.

Conversely, if I build a tight energy efficient home and put carpet/pressboard/vinyl inside, then I hurt the client.

And through all of it, if I don’t treat workers well and keep them safe and healthy, that is a problem.

And that worker condition issue extends to India, China, Russia where we source much of our material. Interconnected

So, green design/building is looking at all of that and developing the least worst options, and if possible… to repair our relationship with nature. which is really a relationship with ourselves. How was that answer?

So MANY factors go into Green construction! Do many people search for that type of construction specifically?

Michael: YES! Our client base is largely made up of people who care about different aspects of green. They want to do it better….

We are really luck in MN to have the  program that provides guidelines to certify green building

I personally believe that Minnesotans care about community. Green is a vehicle for expressing that.

I’d say that the Green aspect of our business is what helped us get through an economy that took many of our peers out

So that people know, what’s the name of your company, and what’s the range as to the size of jobs that you do?

Michael: My firm is otogawa-anschel design-build. We take on projects ranging from about $20K to $990K

We are also a true design and build firm with an amazing staff of designers, carpenters, and management

I also have a consultancy  that works with manufacturers and govt on Green issues.

You may recall the city of Minneapolis’s grass cutting escapade, which resulted in an ordinance change

I should clarify.. Otogawa-Anschel works 99% in residential projects, especially remodeling.

When you first started, was it easy find materials and employees that agreed with your Green approach?

Michael: When I first started.. 17 yrs ago, it was a challenge. But, you surround yourself with smart people, and things change

Because I didn’t grow up in the trades, everything was new. My science brain wanted to grasp the why aspects.

I found the field of building science, and learned about pressure, moisture, and energy. It changes how you build.

I looked at composition of materials, and then looked for less toxic alternatives. I didn’t want the exposure.

It was easy to tell employees that if I didn’t want the exposure, they didn’t want it either. Team building 🙂

Trades people get a bad rap and are ignored. When you start listening, they get excited and begin teaching.

It is a very different dynamic to know your plumber, electrician, & HVAC are your team members.

Credit where credit is due, if my trade partners hadn’t taken time to teach me, I wouldn’t be here today.

It may not sound like green building, but these relationships are central to the idea, because we are all impacted.

The materials side was harder. today there are so many good market priced solutions, it is really easy to build green

Again, the process of assembling materials is generally more important than the individual material

They all have feelings. 🙂  What are a few tips you’d offer to people looking to make their house more Green?

Michael: Haha! Yes they do. And families, and friends. And if we treat them well, then they and their network are happy.

To make your home more green, there are so many resources. (our company for starters..) MN GreenStar is tops

Everything you might think of doing to your home is addressed in MNGreenStar. Lots of information there.

There is even a coupon book (the chinookbook) for business that care about green living options

The tips I’d give. Replace your toilet with a dual flush unit from Sterling or Toto. Or a 1.28gpf from Kohler or Toto.

Green tips: Drought tolerant landscaping that doesn’t require irrigation (50%+ of your water bill)

Green Tips: Use Mythic zero carcinogen paint, or Benjamin Moore Ultra Low VOC paint

Green Tip. Hire someone to evaluate your home’s performance. and don’t insulate your old stucco walls.

Good to know! To close, when you’re not building or designing, what other interests or activities do you do?

Michael: I am an avid outdoors guy. Down hill skiing, rock climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, trekking

Anything with a healthy percentage of fear and danger combined with great personal reward and sense of accomplishment

I believe in Work/Family/Play balance. I’ve got the work and play down pretty well. 🙂

And of course, the food and drink scene in Minneapolis which is amazing!

Thanks for the work that you do and for spending some time on #MNMOtv today! Have a great rest of the week Michael!

Michael: Thanks for inviting me here to have this conversation. I think what you are doing with these is really cool!

Facebook Comments