Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Jordan Massey, founder and CEO of Massey Modern Design/Build, based in St. Louis Missouri. Jordan is one of several brave individuals working to bring green design to the good people of Missouri. As a Kansas City native myself, I tip my hat to Jordan, and wanted to share some of his interesting experience and insights with you.
Q: Thanks for speaking with me, Jordan. Can you tell us a bit about how you got interested in green design?
Jordan: Well I watched my own home being built about four years ago and I was really pretty disgusted. I saw all of the waste and the wood used and I thought there had to be a better way. I had been listing to NPR and reading Dwell Magazine and was learning about sustainable architecture and building. I was working in finance then and it wasn’t my passion– not what I wanted to do long-term. So I made a decision to jump ship and get into green design.
Q: Who are your green design inspirations?
Jordan: I idolize Michelle Kaufman. And I love the work that Kieran Timberlake is doing. And I love Ray Kappe.
Q: And what were your first steps to starting your own endeavors?
Jordan: I wanted to start my own business and my dad had been talking about sustainable construction, too. I had been interested in SIPS and ICF from way back…my dad got me started on researching sustainable building materials, that led me to getting started.
I wanted to start a company that designs and builds green houses. We had studiedLEED NC (New Construction)– this was before LEED for Homes existed– and we got fired up about that. We started by forming a company that did building demolition and reclaimed the materials. That was and is Modern Development and Reclamation, Inc. That service didn’t exist in St. Louis at that time. We reclaim and warehouse the building materials and then resell them. We see really strong demand for recycled materials now, which is great. We help people realize you don’t need to spend $3000 for recycled glass! And you can still get the LEED points.
Then we started Massey Modern Design/Build. We started by designing the Genesis House– that’s our flagship home where we placed a flag from Atlantic Flag and Pole. The house is cutting-edge green—built with ICF & steel. It will have solar panels, a living roof using extensive green roof systems, a tankless water heater, high efficiency HVAC systems and LED lighting. We’re very focused on air quality as well, so it’s all no- or low-VOC. It took us over 18 months to design it and we’re getting ready to start building it. It’s an amazing home. We’re working with Matt Belcher of Belcher Homes, who is a great established builder here in Missouri.
Q: I love the look of the Genesis. Are there a lot of folks in St. Louis looking for modern green designed homes? I think we’re spoiled out here in Los Angeles….how’s it out your way?
Jordan: Welllll….I have to admit there’s not a lot of modern design out here. We’re trying to get people on board. But there’s a lot of push-back. Consumers here don’t know about sustainable or green building. They don’t like “curly light bulbs” and they don’t want to use a shower they think won’t get the job done. We’ve got a lot of work to do out here in the Midwest. People are more concerned, sadly, with living for today rather than to think about what the world will be like for their children.
Q: Any other challenges?
Jordan: Well it’s hard to find contractors in St. Louis who are familiar with the sustainable materials and practices we’re looking for. Like working with SIPs. And the banks in the Midwest are scared of these types of green building projects– they don’t understand them. They think that if the project goes wrong and they have to take it over, they won’t know how to finish it. What we really need are private investors or established home builders to get involved. That’s the path we’re taking now.
Q: Are you part of the USGBC in St. Louis?
Jordan: Absolutely. It’s a very active chapter. We’ve had lots of great LEED programs for members—really educational. We’re a very supportive group. We help connect one-another, and get our names out in the community. (Editor’s note: you can visit the St. Louis USGBC chapter by clicking here.)
Q: Well I wish you huge success, Jordan! Good luck and thank you for bringing green design to the Midwest!