Green building principles are not just a feel-good happenstance at Allen Associates in Santa Barbara, Calif. Rather, a quantifiable number of green elements are required for each project, and green efforts beyond the minimum can raise an associate's quarterly bonus.

The seven associates at the $22 million high-end remodeling and custom home building company both sell and run projects. The quarterly bonus system is based on Key Accountabilities, which start with the volume of work an associate brings in, as well as the profit margin. Beyond that, the bonus is raised or lowered based on: customer satisfaction (40%), green efforts (25%), partnership with contract administrator (25%), and development of team (10%).

A year ago “green efforts” accounted for 5% of the accountabilities. “We've moved that up,” says vice president and general manager Steve Leu. “We're constantly revising that.” Every Allen Associates project must include at least the following:

  • Complete, fully sealed under-slab and footing membrane
  • Drainage plane behind all finish siding
  • Proper flashing — flashing tape on windows with a sloped sill, flexible flashing or metal sill pan at doors
  • Radiant barriers — Tyvec thermal wrap, foil-faced roof sheeting, or Hy-Tech insulating ceramic paint
  • Zero- or low-VOC paints, finishes, mastics, adhesives, and glues
  • A waste management plan, which must be presented to the firm's green resources manager before the project begins
  • Metal ducting with mechanical fasteners and approved mastics/tapes at all connections

The item must be verified by site inspection by designated staff or by site photos. Associates can earn additional bonus money by creating projects that earn points on the Built Green Santa Barbara ( rating system, submitting projects to green building competitions, and initiating green elements on projects. Points are lost when opportunities for initiating green elements are missed. “We're always pushing to reach the highest level,” Leu says.
Kathy Price-Robinson writes frequently about remodeling from her home in Arroyo Grande, Calif.;