Attending an NAHB Green Building Conference two years ago, Lou Sagatov (second from right) decided that green building, though sensible, didn't fit his company's business model. By the time his return flight landed in Washington, D.C., he'd changed his mind. “The days when we said, ‘That's the way we've always built homes,' are gone,” Lou says. Now, he, his son and company CFO Yuri (far left), and the Sagatov Associates staff put green building ideals at the forefront of each project.

“Approaching green building from a systems point of view makes us different from other builders,” Yuri says. “For example, another company might use spray-foam insulation to seal a home from air infiltration, and then stop. With our systems approach, we address the need to exhaust spent air from the house and bring fresh, filtered air back in, so all the indoor air quality needs are being met.”

Chief operating officer Mark Williamson (second from left) says the company's biggest challenge is that selling indoor air quality and moisture control “just isn't as sexy” as granite countertops or custom cabinetry. “The materials and techniques we use aren't going to be visible to the homeowners and their neighbors, but they're still very important,” he says. “As cities in our region have begun to mandate green certifications for commercial buildings, we know it's only a matter of time until it comes to the residential market.”