Finalist Q&A: Greener Planet Design, LLC

Greener Planet Design, LLC provides Residential New-build and Re-Green Architectural design plan services. With an environmental focus, these plans detail: The construction, specification, and resources needed for a complete set of building permits and site implementation. More specifically, the design goals provide short and long-term public resource dependency reduction for home-owners on utilities such as Energy, Fuel, and Water. The company empowers clients to build with less impact to themselves and the environment.

How did you come up with the idea for your business, and what, or who, is your main source of motivation?
During the final Semesters of my college education, I entered a design competition with a group of fellow students. The Leading Edge design competition, based out of California, is a sustainability and Green focus design comp, offered globally. This resulted in a beginning knowledge of unique, more environmental ways to design and construct – we placed second. I went on to compete two more times as an individual for fun - receiving honorable mention in both. This put me on a path of discovery and thirst for knowledge that continued beyond graduation. At the time I was in college, I supported my family as a licensed Realtor. This experience helped me realize the need for unique, better planned designs, healthier materials/ methods, and homes that could sustain a family throughout the years. I offered/ had been doing subcontracting services independently as a designer since 1996. However, it was hard to communicate these methods with other builders and Architects; They were not ready, at the time, to move beyond basic building practices. I had opportunities to create homes/ structures for several families and non-profits. My ideas were so non-traditional that I offered to design them without fee. I merely wanted them to see the difference. These designs were approved, without revision, by “traditional” building authorities.

I opened my business to design and create functional spaces that can possibly move it's inhabitants further emotionally as well. The emotional aspects of design come from childhood experiences; My family traveled annually to Architecturally significant homes and places; Including, my leading influence (this is where I will likely loose you) Walt Disney World. These yearly visits, beginning at age two, would shape how I see Architecture. As a adult, revisiting the park with my family, I realized this emotional tie. I questioned why should we live in a home that reflects those around us, shouldn't it reflect it's inhabitants?Why do we travel to stay in places that we love when we can have that here to some degree. Emotionally speaking, the home is a place which begins our day, ends our day, and shapes us. It is this desire, and the memory of those who achieved their visions, that drive me daily to create. Additionally, it is the lessons of my Father and my Grandmothers, who also studied Architecture, that continue me on my path.

What is a unique feature of your business?
A unique facet to my business came to me during the economic plummets. I see potential clients, driving their SUV's and minivans to the recycling centers around town. These individuals have the desire to help our environment. Sure they have made mistakes along the way, we all have to some degree – but they are trying to make a difference now. The same individuals look at the “environmental cleaners” in the shopping isle, the products with recycled content, etc. However, due to financial constraints, they are unable to make the plunge - it simply costs more than the bargain product at this time. I am working to offer the following remedy. According to a recent poll in BIA, 33% of homebuilders annually purchase and build their plans on-line or in books - as a way of affording “custom” plans. In addition to my standard custom design services, my plan is to offer unique custom designs with Energy Star, Greener build methods, prepackaged at a reasonable rate. Priced as if 8-9 people shared the cost of the designs billable hours (they will be limited addition), it's a way for the individual to technically purchase a share of the plans design price. These detailed plans are offered all around the US, which opens my market reach to many more individuals. I have been working to build the portfolio to coincide with a magazine article scheduled to print November 2009. These services will extend to the builder market as well.

There are several sites offering these services already, some of the plans are free, however, they are designed around paid advertiser which portray their product as a feature element. My plans include multiple material options that have been selected for the buyer and our environment – not the paid advertiser.

What are your thoughts on the connection between small business and the local community?
The connection between small business and the local community is an important step to build over time. S you become involved with related events and their individuals, you build credentials, and stand to become the local expert they will look to in their time of need. Word of mouth travels across states, it may begin with a neighbor, but expand to a buyer In New York. The local community is your cheering section, a foundation for greatness.

Why should the Idea Cafe regulars vote for you?
This is the hardest question. How do you ask for a vote? Especially when we are all working so hard to establish our place in society as a small business. Every idea I see at Idea Cafe is unique and with merit all their own.

I can, however, offer a ride though the experience of a dream as it takes shape in society. I have always been one to help others with their business ventures through support, insight, and assistance. I am anxious to share discovery along the way. As you may see from my entry, I love writing and sharing – most importantly, I love to motivate.


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