Founder and CEO of Cottonwood Custom Builders Jeff Hindman is a Colorado native who grew up with the state’s stunning landscapes and environment at his fingertips. His love for Mother Nature paired with an awareness about climate change fueled his passion to protect the planet.
After spending time in California and Washington, D.C. as a carpenter’s assistant and in consumer and environmental protection, Jeff moved back to his home state. There, he was determined to pair his two passions and set out to launch his own business.
Founded in 1995, Cottonwood Custom Builders is a pioneer in the green building industry.
CR: Why did you launch your own company?
JH: When I returned to Colorado in the mid-90s, I wanted to continue working in general contracting and honor my commitment to protecting our planet. At the time, green building wasn't nearly as prominent as it is now. Since I didn't see a company aligned with my vision, I created it.
CR: What does building green or crafting sustainable structures mean to you?
JH: To build a truly green home, you need to consider the process holistically—from design to completion. If you don't, it's like building an almost watertight canoe; it’s close but it's not going to get you where you want to go. When we think of green homes, we focus on three primary things—sustainable design and materials, low waste processes and applied building science.
CR: Let's talk about green building trends in general. What do these trends look like in 2022?
JH: The home or commercial building of the future will be all electric. Since the electric grid will be 70 percent renewable by 2030, it does not make sense to use a fossil fuel gas line to heat building or the hot water. As battery technology advances, solar electric will become even more desirable and will allow consumers to go off grid. We also expect to see the energy efficiency building codes to continue to raise the bar for all types of construction. As we look at the enormity of the climate crises and see the somewhat feeble impacts of our isolated attempts, we're realizing that it takes all of us. If our goal is to create a green built environment, it takes all of us working together. The more we can listen to and learn from each other, the better.
I look forward to seeing more solutions develop that make it accessible and affordable to choose a greener path. For instance, at Cottonwood, we've developed our own processes for construction recycling that diverts 70 to 80 percent of our waste away from the landfill. There are few cost-effective construction recycling services and builders currently have to create their own systems and processes, which Cottonwood has done.
CR: What about reducing, reusing and recycling? Is that a trend you expect to see continue or take off more than it already has?
JH: Through code requirements and rising consumer demand, we expect to see thorough jobsite waste reduction, diversion and reuse become more standard in the immediate future. Looking further into the future, we're excited for how the building process will evolve—developing new ways to recycle currently hard or impossible to recycle materials, phasing out products that aren't sustainably produced and more.
CR: What are some important things consumers who want to build a green home should keep in mind?
JH: Make every effort to do it right the first time. Focus especially on your home's building envelope and other steps that cannot be improved later without tearing the walls back open. Choose finishes that are timeless and will withstand your family's wear and tear—after all, nothing is sustainable if you need to replace it quickly.