Some Asheville Green Building History
Rob Moody and Jack Bebber, co-owners of pioneering green businesses EcoBuilders and EcoHouse Realty, first met as UNC Asheville freshman. They clicked – as roommates, band-mates in two alternative bands, and native sons who love the land and history of Western North Carolina. And both were budding ecologists. Jack became the UNCA Ecology Club officer and a campus recycling champion. Rob became a Biology major, awed and disturbed to learn that salamanders, a diverse and prolific “indicator species”, were disappearing throughout the Appalachians.
After graduation, Rob taught high-school environmental science for seven years, all the while thinking deeply about humans’ role in the natural world, and fondly recalling the comfort and pleasure of growing up in his grandfather’s Arts and Crafts-style, W. H. Lord-designed house on Woolsey Heights in Waynesville, NC. “It was shingle style, designed with subtlety and attention to detail you didn’t find in later houses,” Rob recalls. “It had tiger oak wainscoting on the first floor, and grace of proportion everywhere you looked. Like a piece of music, a house can deeply please you even if you can’t explain the technical reasons why it does so.”
Meanwhile, Jack taught high-school history, spending his days in a structure built at the height of “The Thermostat Age”, when cheap and abundant fuel robbed architecture of the impetus to create forms that optimize natural light, climate control, and ventilation. The resulting, random boxes-within-boxes do not inspire affection or caring maintenance, and tend to end up as disposable buildings. “As a historian, I’m all about architectural preservation,” Jack says. “But structures can only earn a long history on merit, by functioning well and pleasing the people they shelter and serve.” Jack’s school hardly qualified, not least because its moldy ductwork, typical of such buildings, made the very air uninviting.
Both Rob and Jack felt a growing urge to leave their classrooms, engage the world hands-on, and help create a built environment that harmonizes with the natural world and the human yearning for joyful, meaningful spaces.
By then, both men had met and married their soul-mates. Lindsay Moody, like Rob, taught environmental science and biology, and shared Rob’s drive to do and be green as well as talking about it. Tami Bebber came to green concerns as a talented snowboarder and mountain biker with a personal, passionate stake in the health of the mountains.
In 2002, Jack started working in realty, planning to specialize in new, green properties and helping to preserve and improve the area’s best existing homes. A year later, Rob founded EcoBuilders*, and in Black Mountain, NC, Jack found the land on which EcoBuilders built North Carolina’s first HealthyBuilt House. Soon, Rob, Jack, Lindsay and Tami became joint owners and partners in EcoBuilders, and the team began to spearhead Asheville’s green building movement. Lindsay and Tami both earned realty licenses so they could represent the green homes that EcoBuilders and a growing group of other WNC green builders were bringing to an eager market.
In 2006, the Moody and Bebber families co-founded EcoHouse Realty, creating a companion firm as dedicated to green building – and high standards – as EcoBuilders. Soon, they realized that EcoHouse Realty’s strengths – expertise, attention to detail, and inspired matchmaking – could apply just as well to Asheville’s great existing building inventory as to its stream of new, green structures. To achieve this end while maintaining EcoHouse Realty’s pure green focus, the partners created their third co-owned business, Dwell Realty.
GreenIsHere.com links you to all of these resources and more.
And now, Rob, Jack, and all of their colleagues invite you to become part of Asheville Green Building History, too.