The School of Sustainable Wonderland

Sustainability can be defined in a number of ways as we discussed in last week’s article What Does ‘Sustainability’ Mean to Your Home?. But whichever way you define it, today’s technology and methods to support sustainability are continually evolving and improving.

To stay ahead of the curve, Silent Rivers is committed to finding and pursuing continuing education opportunities around sustainable products, techniques, building science and best practices. With homeowners being more and more aware and interested in sustainability, let’s just jump down the rabbit hole of some educational resources right here in Des Moines.

Local Sustainable Education

Environmental Impact Award presented to Silent-Rivers

In honor of Earth Day, Center on Sustainable Communities, Des Moines Water Works, Greater Des Moines Partnership and Metro Waste Authority recognized their 2015 Environmental Impact Award winners. Members of the Silent Rivers team accept this year’s award in the category of “Built Environment for Residential”.

Silent Rivers supports and participates in classes and workshops provided by the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines. As a result, our team members have earned certifications through the extensive continuing education opportunities from the National Association of Home Builders.

As founding members of the Center On Sustainable Communities, Silent Rivers works to educate Central Iowa homeowners on the importance of building for the future and maintaining and optimizing their current homes. Visit the COSC site and you’ll find great resources such as a “Homeowner Handbook” and “Green Guide for Consumers”. COSC also provides workshops for homeowners and professionals alike to learn more about green building.

Some Des Moines area building material suppliers, such as Stetson Building Products, will also host lunch-and-learns, bringing in national and international manufacturers to speak about their products. These types of supplier sessions have provided us with invaluable information about emerging industry trends.

The Silent Rivers team attends a training seminar by Tim Faller

The Silent Rivers team attends a training seminar by Tim Faller, author of “The Lead Carpenter Handbook” and “The Complete Hands-on Guide to Successful Job-Site Management”, during his visit to Des Moines this year.

National Sustainable Education

When we identify building products that we really like, we go directly to the source to provide education for Silent Rivers’ design and field staffs. We will send team members to manufacturer’s workshops around the country, to ensure they have expertise in the proper application of these products and how to best integrate them into homes.

National and international building trade shows like the International Builders’ Show abound with educational opportunities, all under one roof. Our experience is that these shows are an excellent resource for learning about new building techniques, systems and materials.

If we can’t go to them, we just bring them here to Des Moines! As a general practice, Silent Rivers has been known to host nationally recognized educators, often in partnership with other organizations such as COSC and NAHB, for company workshops to increase our knowledge base in building, project management, and business practices.

Good Reads

Print and online magazines provide a plethora of knowledge when it comes to sustainable building practices. Here are a few that we recommend:

  • The Journal of Light Construction — A best practices “bible” written by and for residential and light commercial building and remodeling professionals.
  • Fine Homebuilding — Residential construction magazine, set apart by its attention to home design with honest looks at good fundamental design, with focus on smaller, more affordable homes.
  • The Taunton Press and The Energy & Environmental Building Alliance have been great resources for us as we develop the “Silent Rivers Best Practices Manual”.
  • Green Building Advisor, a site dedicated to providing the most useful, accurate, and complete information about designing, building, and remodeling energy-efficient, sustainable, and healthy homes.
  • The US Department of Energy — Visit the page about Residential Buildings Integration for in-depth information about residential building for energy efficiency.  This page gives examples of how the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy strives to reduce energy consumption across the residential building sector by at least 50%.

Our Own Licensure & Accreditations

Silent Rivers Design+Build team members

As stewards of sustainability, we all take the time pursue education and hands-on training opportunities. Several members of the Silent Rivers team are pictured here, gathered for a team photo.

On Silent Rivers’ staff is a licensed architect and member of the American Institute of Architects which requires continuing education units (CEU) to maintain the architectural license. The AIA provides classes and workshops online and at their conventions to complete those CEU’s.

Silent Rivers founder and several staff members are LEED AP (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Accredited Professional) through the United States Green Building Council which requires similar CEU’s to maintain their accreditation.

Our mission to design and build the best home possible for our clients is a continual challenge that requires continuous education. No matter how you define sustainable, the Silent Rivers Team is uniquely qualified to help you accomplish your goals.

Learn more about these talented people by visiting our Meet the Team page.


Check out examples of Silent Rivers projects in which we collaborated with homeowners to achieve their personal goals for sustainability:


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