Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rogers Remodel Promotes Green Projects!

When every last detail of bath or kitchen remodel is wrapped up, Northern California plumber and building contractor Jamie Rogers hopes his clients are happy with the way the room looks and works. Most of the time, the project also makes the home a whole lot greener.


Rogers brings a passion for both green plumbing and green building to every project. In construction for 18 years and plumbing for 15, he started Rogers Remodel, Inc. in 2003 in Novato in the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied civil engineering and worked as a journeyman carpenter in Washington State before moving to California.

Rogers Remodel primarily serves affluent Marin and Sonoma counties, San Francisco and the East Bay. The full-service plumber handles residential and light commercial work, from basic plumbing to full-on, ripped-down-to-the-studs renovations. The company does repairs, inspections, sewer and drain work, water audits, gas line and water heater installation, and bath and kitchen installation and remodeling.

Rogers is not shy about admitting he's a bit of an evangelist on the subject of conservation, saying that he's frankly touched when his efforts to educate homeowners and business clients hit home. Sometimes he's preaching to the choir. Customers do come to him with an eye to reducing immediate water and energy use and slicing utility costs for the long run.

He estimates that 75 percent of his remodels are green and 80- to 90 percent of his plumbing projects have a green component. Rogers has been able to reduce clients' water bills as much as 47 percent.


The company has benefited from the remodeling surge in recent years, Rogers said, as owners of older homes take on updating a single bath or knocking down walls to create expansive master suites or create double bathrooms. He cited projects where a total "remodel" budget has surpassed the value of the original space and his part of the job was significant. Most of his larger remodeling jobs have been in Sonoma and Marin Counties, where clients have had the funds to renovate.


Rogers is on a mission to convince more clients that a green remodel is within their budget. "If there's one thing consumers need to know, it's that green projects and products don't have to be any more expensive than traditional options. "They can get the look they want with products that do the job while saving water and energy," Rogers said.

As a plumber/building contractor, Rogers is hands-on during the design and specification stages of many projects, offering his input on sourcing green products.

He uses many of the same sources repeatedly because field experience has demonstrated what products best fit project needs, while being on constant lookout for new products and ways to improve on installation. For example, when possible, he configures piping in shorter runs to get water where it needs to go more quickly and efficiently.

One extensive remodeling project was the 4,500 square foot Courtney residence in Marin County's slightly posh Mill Valley. "The initial plan was to add a guest suite to the '70s era home, and push out to give the son a larger room and private bath," Rogers said.

The Mill Valley project's "in-law" suite included a kitchen, bath and laundry room. Rogers did the plumbing on those areas as well as remodeling three existing baths, five baths in all. The job stretched over eight months, with possibly the biggest challenge having to haul cast iron up about 90 steps, he said.

The plumbing work included interior re-piping in PEX and copper and exterior in Aquatherm, a very durable green pipe that uses heat to fuse pipes together, and installation of a whole-house circulation system with Metlund pumps. Hot water was provided via two A.O. Smith hybrids, a large one of the main house and a smaller one for the guest house. The advantage of the hybrids, Rogers explained was that they heat up water quickly like a tankless but also store water, and that an upgrade of the gas line wasn't required.

In the baths, Rogers put in Toto high efficiency 1.28 gpf toilets, lower flow Grohe valves and showerheads and low-flow Hansgrohe faucets. While they were at it, the homeowners added PV solar. Rogers' pride in the project is obvious when he talks about how cool the baths look with features selected from Restoration Hardware that give the baths a retro, yet modern feel.

For another large green project, the Kramer residence in Novato, the company remodeled a full kitchen and two baths. Rogers and his full-time crew of three not only did the plumbing but framing, electrical, cabinetry and lighting as well.

"What I liked about this kitchen is the use of recycled materials and natural light," Rogers said. The countertops are fabricated of recycled marble and granite and the backsplash of recycled glass. Natural light is brought in by a skylight and the space boasts energy-saving under-cabinet LED lighting. A non-demand circulation system feeds hot water to remodeled kitchen and two bathrooms.

An example of going green without sacrificing the "wow factor" is a bath from another Rogers Remodel project in Novato which included a full kitchen and two baths.

Green materials were used when possible. The master bath was plumbed with low-flow faucets and showerheads in the large shower and soaking tub with waterfall faucet, and the builder used recycled materials for the floor, and added a skylight and LED lighting. "In the master bath, we retained the tank heater. On a lot of projects we'll upgrade the tank or go tankless, depending on what they need what their peak flow is."

The large shower guest bath had both a rain-type showerhead and a handheld shower. The installer used a diverter so that only one low-flow showerhead or the other could be used at one time.

Green features in the kitchen included a recirculation pump, aerators on faucet, a low water use dishwasher, skylights, and LED under-cabinet lights. On projects like this, Rogers said, it's important to insulate everything well.

Rogers' efforts on the green plumbing front earned him the GreenPlumber of Year award or the Western states from GreenPlumbers USA and IAPMO. He was cited for "going above and beyond by collaborating with community partners to install water catchment systems in two local schools. Jamie has calculated that he has saved 2.4 million gallons of water this year [2011] in the Bay Area and has also promoted water conservation by serving on local job-building boards and green employment councils."

"We teamed up with local water districts for toilet change outs and did a lot of water audits the past year for clients in commercial buildings and we were able to calculate how much water was saved with the change outs and the other projects that I did," Rogers explained.

On the school projects, "we teamed up with RainwaterHog, a rainwater harvesting company out of Australia, to install rainwater capture systems in a couple of different schools," Rogers said. "We met them (RainwaterHog) at a trade show and signed on as distributor and installer of their products in the Bay Area."

Through GreenPlumbers, Rogers and the manufacturer put in seven rainwater tanks and a hand pump at McKinley Elementary School in San Francisco for the students to use to water their plants. They installed three tanks at Hall Middle School in Larkspur which were rigged to flush a toilet. "We donated most of our services for those first two projects. It's a great hands-on demonstration about conservation for the kids. We want to do more like them."

Rogers plans to keeping delivering the green message, whether with individual homeowners or business clients, working with local water districts in programs such as water audits and toilet change outs and through GreenPlumbers to help educate other plumbing and building professionals.

Even though he started on the construction side, Rogers said he loves plumbing. And, there's no greater compliment to plumber or builder than having a client say, "I love the work you did and I want you for my next project."

Check out the article written about Rogers Remodel in Reeves Journal, the oldest publication in the plumbing industry.

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