Dollars for Change | Shepley Wood Products
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Dollars for Change

Plenty is going on right now in our industry. Post Covid, supply chains have begun to catch up, commodity markets have settled down, and people are generally busy. The future looks good, as we underbuilt for so many of the years from 2008 thru 2020 and then had the rollercoaster ride of COVID. Several industry experts have told us that they see the next five years as potentially some of the best years of our careers. This sounded like a wild prediction when we were just coming out of COVID conditions, but it makes sense. Demand is high, as housing supply has been underbuilt for so long. From a perspective of builder confidence, we are in a good place. The Northeast market leads the other areas of the country in the builder confidence surveys.

We also lead the country in some pretty bold political initiatives. MA has long desired to lead the country in “Green” initiatives, goals and regulations. We are outstripping even California in our efforts to rush to net zero new construction. The houses that most of us grew up in, even houses built in the 1990’s like the one I live in, seemed pretty tight and relatively high-performing, compared to days of old. But to put things in a HERS rating perspective, my 1990 house might achieve a HERS rating of 150 or so. As of July 1, 2024, we will enter the next level of energy code and essentially require a HERS rating of 42 ! The ultimate target is a HERS rating of zero, hence the popular “Net Zero” term.

Government approaches change a bit differently than private industry. In private industry, we establish a goal, plan out a means to get there and measure our progress towards achieving that goal along a timeline. In government, it is perfectly OK to establish a goal, however ambitious, without a means or plan to get there, a budget to actually fund the goal , and to simply force the result whether it makes sense or not. Sometimes this works. Anyone remember JFK’s prediction in the early 1960’s that we would put a man on the moon by the close of the decade? That goal was so audacious that it literally took the breath away from the NASA engineers who were tasked with achieving it. In interviews from that era, they said they hadn’t a clue how they were going to pull off such a feat, in so short a time, with no idea of budget or even feasibility. The magic of the moon landing was that it was a matter of national pride, of winning the space race over our Russian rivals, and somehow pulling off an impossible challenge.

The race to net zero is an audacious challenge too. The difference is that it affects all of us directly in ways that the space race didn’t. We are already severely challenged with housing affordability and what is coming in the way of energy regulations will drive housing costs higher. Because all these regulations are coming fast and furious, there are many unintended consequences and unanswered issues like house ventilation, moisture control, and indoor air quality. There are conflicts that don’t have a resolution on the horizon. If we are working so hard to completely ban the use of fossil fuels in favor of electric for heating, cooling, cooking , and vehicle power, why is it that the electric utilities can’t keep up with current demand? 61% of the electricity we use today is generated by fossil fuel, and yet we are forcing more electrical demand on them! The utilities say the grid isn’t ready, yet towns like Brookline have already banned fossil fuel use in any new construction. Ironically, utilities are saying they aren’t even able to accept all the power that homeowners want to generate from new roof top solar arrays. There are caps on renewable solar energy because the grid can’t handle more than 15 KW per house in areas like Hyannis.

Since the energy challenge is as big, complicated, and spread out as it is, it is more than any one of us can handle solo. We need the power of organization to be heard. This is where our Home Builders and Remodelers Association comes in. Our local Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Cape Co (HBRAMA), our state organization Homebuilders and Remodelers of MA (HBRAMA) and our national organization the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) are all part of your membership in our local HBRAMA. If you are not a member already here is how easy it is to become one.

A great example of the power of a unified voice is our Association lobbying Governor Baker successfully to classify us as an essential industry so that we weren’t completely shut down as an industry during COVID. A more recent win was getting towns to agree that the adoption of the stretch energy code could no longer be done behind closed doors but had to be done through public hearing and public vote. We need our association to be heard on Beacon Hill, at the State House. We need to support our representatives politically and financially. State President Mike Duffany is a Cape Codder, State Secretary and Treasurer, Matt Teague is a Cape Codder. Here is an idea that Matt Teague came up with and that we at Shepley support. To fund the political efforts in Boston, would you agree to contribute $1 for every invoice you buy from us to HBRAMA?

Shepley will match your pledge! At the end of each month, we will bill you $1 for every invoice you buy from us and contribute the total to HBRAMA. Not a heavy lift, but a very important one. We need presence at the State House. We need our legislative team informed and in action to keep a careful eye on new developments that are coming fast and furious. If you say “Yes”, we’ll take care of the rest. We call it Dollars for Change.

"The world is run by those who show up and those who commit."

We will put our money next to yours to double the impact. Can we count on you? Thanks for your support for our industry, our profession, and our future! Thank you.