BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 36

FEATURE: BUILDINGENERGY BOTTOM LINES

AN INTERVIEW WITH
JONATHAN ORPIN

BY JENNIFER
MARRAPESE

F

or this issue of BuildingEnergy magazine,
we're interviewing Jonathan Orpin, founder
of New Energy Works Timberframers and
Pioneer Millworks, both headquartered in
central New York. Started as a small timber
frame company, New Energy Works works with Pioneer
Millworks to design and build beautiful, energy efficient
timber framed buildings. Together, the two companies
employ nearly 100 designers, timberwrights, engineers,
craftspeople and community members.
New Energy Works' services include architectural
design, timber framing, designing enclosure
systems, construction and fine woodworking.
Pioneer Millworks is the largest domestic source
for reclaimed and sustainable wood products. The
two companies were among the founding members
of BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines, NESEA's triple
bottom lines peer network. To learn more about our
BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines program, visit nesea.org/
buildingenergy-bottom-lines.
Tell me a bit about New Energy Works and Pioneer
Millworks. When and how were they founded? Can
you describe your businesses to me?
JO: I started New Energy Works (NEW) in the
mid-80s as a response to my dislike of plastic vapor
barriers. I had read the Saskatchewan Report and
discovered SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) and heavy
timber. Then I discovered heavy timber and craft. It was
a romance at first sight.
I founded Pioneer Millworks in the late-80s to
support my timber framing habit. I was looking for
more stable timbers than what were available at the
time in Western New York.
What are the biggest challenges you face in running
these two companies?
JO: I am a cowboy at heart. When you grow
companies like we have ours, through sheer force of
will, and unswerving focus and hard work, rather than
proper capitalization and thoughtful management
techniques, it's a challenge. We've only started to
grow through the latter two (proper capitalization and
thoughtful management techniques) recently, in part
because I've been smart enough to hire and recruit
people who are better than I am at their jobs.
What drove you to join Bottom Lines?
JO: I joined at the outset, in 2014. I did so for two
reasons: one as a favor to John Abrams (a good friend
and the facilitator of the Open Matters Bottom Lines

36 * BUILDINGENERGY VOL. 36 NO. 2 | FALL 2017

group); and two because I trusted John. I didn't expect
much out of participating, possibly because I'd never
participated in anything like this before.
What's been the biggest surprise about Bottom
Lines so far?
JO: I am pretty convinced that no one has gotten
more out of the program than my co-workers and
I have. Seven of us participate, and more of our
employees would love to be involved. This is a big
investment on our part, both in terms of time and
travel. But it's been incredibly useful.
I have learned specific skills through participating: in
the form of actual business tools and, even more so, in
terms of big picture thinking. I would suggest that both
of these are true for my co-workers as well. I've also
made new friends. As an owner of a company, friends
don't come easily for many complicated reasons. It's
really nice to have some new friends.
You hosted your Bottom Lines group, Open Matters,
in April 2016. What was it like to host a meeting?
JO: We have a great deal to share. Our companies
are not only the largest in Bottom Lines but we're also
chaotic as heck and expanding on all fronts at the same
time (see my cowboy comment above). So for us, the
hardest challenge was to share our story and resources
in as cogent a way as we could with limited time. Bottom
Lines gatherings last a total of 48 hours. While that is
the right amount of time, it's never enough time.
In addition to having a great deal to share, we have
a great number of needs. Part of our challenge was to
pick just a few that the group could help us with most.
On the NEW side, for instance, we had just
experienced a catastrophic building failure (or, as I
like to call it, a bucket of opportunity) of a WWII-era
building that housed our fine woodworking division,
NEWwoodworks. Seeing this as an opportunity to bring
new building technologies to the region and relocate
the fine woodworking team to our main campus, we
started the journey to a CLT (Cross Laminated Timber)
building wrapped with Wood Fiber Insulation. (Editor's
note: This project, dubbed "Tomorrowland," was
featured in NESEA's BuildingEnergy Pro Tour series in
June 2017. It is intended to showcase CLT construction
as the wave of the future, offering possibilities for both
businesses and housing with dramatic environmental
benefits.) There was much more here than just the
mechanics of rebuilding, including financing, design
and personnel issues. Our group's feedback was
extraordinarily helpful.


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BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017

From the Executive Director: A strategic plan for emerging professionals.
From the Board Chair: Taking flight into new territory.
What is Strategic Electrification? Simply Put, It’s an Energy Transformation: A core pathway to deep carbon reduction.
Better Steam Heat: Generating steam system upgrades in New York City.
Going All the Way:What it will really take to achieve net zero energy in Burlington, VT.
Are You Forging the Weakest Link?: A deeper dive into how the quest for resilience alters the design process.
Air Quality in Your Bedroom: Nighttime Carbon Dioxide Levels in the Bedrooms of 22 Vermont Homes: Can occupants of leaky houses breathe easy in their sleep?
Inclusive Diversity Key to Sustainability: Opinion: Sustainability planning must embrace diversity.
BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines: An interview with Jonathan Orpin.
High Performance Walls: Discover an alternative to traditional insulation methods that can reach superior insulation performance with thinner walls.
SAF®– A Solar Faade to Stay?: A technical overview of the newest attachment systems in the low-energy construction market.
NESEA Green Pages: This premier resource for sustainability professionals in the Northeast and beyond is just a few pages away. To have your business listed in next year’s Green Pages and become a NESEA business member today, visit nesea.org/join.
Index to Advertisers
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - Intro
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - cover1
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - cover2
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 3
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 4
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 5
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - From the Executive Director: A strategic plan for emerging professionals.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 7
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - From the Board Chair: Taking flight into new territory.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 9
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - What is Strategic Electrification? Simply Put, It’s an Energy Transformation: A core pathway to deep carbon reduction.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 11
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 12
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 13
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 14
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 15
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - Better Steam Heat: Generating steam system upgrades in New York City.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 17
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 18
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 19
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - INSERT1
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - INSERT2
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - Going All the Way:What it will really take to achieve net zero energy in Burlington, VT.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 21
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 22
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 23
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - Are You Forging the Weakest Link?: A deeper dive into how the quest for resilience alters the design process.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 25
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 26
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 27
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 28
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 29
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - Air Quality in Your Bedroom: Nighttime Carbon Dioxide Levels in the Bedrooms of 22 Vermont Homes: Can occupants of leaky houses breathe easy in their sleep?
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 31
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 32
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 33
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - Inclusive Diversity Key to Sustainability: Opinion: Sustainability planning must embrace diversity.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 35
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - BuildingEnergy Bottom Lines: An interview with Jonathan Orpin.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 37
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - High Performance Walls: Discover an alternative to traditional insulation methods that can reach superior insulation performance with thinner walls.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 39
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 40
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 41
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - SAF®– A Solar Faade to Stay?: A technical overview of the newest attachment systems in the low-energy construction market.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 43
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 44
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 45
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 46
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 47
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - NESEA Green Pages: This premier resource for sustainability professionals in the Northeast and beyond is just a few pages away. To have your business listed in next year’s Green Pages and become a NESEA business member today, visit nesea.org/join.
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 49
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BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 76
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - Index to Advertisers
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - 78
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - cover3
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - cover4
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - outsert1
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - outsert2
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - outsert3
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - outsert4
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - outsert5
BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2017 - outsert6
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