Builder Spotlight - MainStream Corporation
Cody and Lisa Farmer are a building science power couple from Colorado who serve as Vice President and President respectively at MainStream Corporation - a construction and materials company with a laser-like focus on Passive House. The Farmers, have also ventured into real estate, an endeavor that has made them especially familiar with the constraints of property management, lending, valuation, and assessment. In order to better understand the couples’ sustainable building techniques and background in the industry, we had the pleasure of speaking with Cody Farmer to learn more.
Before Cody even became aware of Passive House, Cody was studying and working in marketing for many years before turning to construction. “I basically got bored sitting in the office and my wife, Lisa, was in engineering. I decided to go back to school to learn more about sustainable building. My wife is a PE and I am a construction guru, so our business came together pretty organically.” (Fun fact - Cody and Lisa originally met while working in a Home Depot during undergrad).
While studying as a graduate student, Cody’s interest in Passive House piqued. “In 2009 I was completing a masters in sustainable building at Colorado State University and running their green building certification program online which incorporated a lot of LEED concepts. A colleague, Mark Benjamin PE, mentioned Passive House. Lisa and I went and took a class and it just so happened that around this time a client asked for us to build them a ‘green home.’ We quickly went into design phase for their ‘green home’ aiming for one of the first Passive Houses built in Colorado.” Impressed with Passive House modeling the two realized that predicting building energy usage would be beneficial to building investor’s ROI.
Cody attributes his success, in part, to his work in real estate. Being in real estate, he understands first hand the value in Passive House building, not as a builder, but as a homeowner and investor in buildings. “My wife and I became property investors and a key focus was to save on energy bills. Passive House modeling gave a better return on investment, and when we built our first home in 2004, we were really seeing first hand how crappy some of the home building was.”
Mainstream Corporation Projects
Now, Cody is a Passive House practitioner at MainStream Corporation. “We do airtightness systems, ventilation systems and run Passive House energy models as our core focuses and consultancy. We want all standard smaller sustainable houses to use Lunos, and the bigger ones to use a central ventilation system - both utilizing Pro Clima airtight and moisture control enclosure systems. If we better utilize heat recovery ventilation, with airtightness, everyone will be much healthier. At our core, we are very passionate about clean air and believe Pro Clima is key to furthering this goal. Right now, we’re keeping an eye on the evolution of the high-performance wall and are very excited about Smart Enclosure assemblies since these are very valuable for efficiency.” According to Cody, “people are really catching onto the value of healthy breathable airtight walls. People understand that if you run in a raincoat, you’ll sweat to death, but if you run in cotton, you dry out. The SOLITEX line of WRBs will dry out like a cotton shirt.”
As a building and real estate expert, Cody has been a longtime fan of Pro Clima products. He was introduced to Pro Clima by 475 back in 2012 at a conference. “I wanted to find the ideal products to use for my new venture into Passive House building and came across Pro Clima. The TESCON family of pressure activated tapes work so well in so many different applications that it became a necessary staple on our contractors’ belts,” says Cody. Over the years, he has become somewhat of an expert and enthusiast when it comes to using Pro Clima. He has an array of products and best practices he turns to when using Pro Clima. “TESCON PROFIL is awesome, not only for windows, but it’s also great for corners. We really like using EXTOSEAL ENCORS on window and door sills, then TESCON VANA 100 on the rest of the outside of the window buck. We like the VANA 100 because it has the split backing and you can paint over it and it’s very strong. We specify the connection of wood frame to concrete foundation with the 6 inch TESCON VANA 150. Pro Clima and the 475 family have helped us become experts in Airtight breathable assemblies.”
Last year, MainStream Corporation installed the first Gutex THERMOWALL system in America. The project was done for the home of the very eco-conscious co-founder of the New Belgium Brewery, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, the most energy-efficient brewery in the world. Because of this, the whole idea was to have the house reflect the owners’ values, and Farmer and the team tried to make the house as green as possible, following best practices.