is a revolution on the South/Central Coast and Allen Associates
is leading the way, and winning. The revolution emphasizes "green
building" and its principal and principle advocates are Dennis
Allen and Ian Cronshaw, general contractors and partners of Allen
Associates, a Santa Barbara building firm focusing on residential
and light commercial construction throughout the South/Central Coast.
are opposed to the revolution," emphasizes Dennis. "Who's not in
favor of leaving a better world for their children and grandchildren?
We're changing the way we build and the way we think about structures.
At our best, we approach structures like living organisms, considering
the whole product in its environment instead of treating it as an
assemblage of components. Waste becomes input, energy is generated
and conserved, air and water become purified and people are healthier
and more productive. Additionally, we're trying to educate people
that environmentally friendly structures can blend into today's
lifestyles and the way people want to live."
remodel of a Santa Barbara home has been completed in the old mission
style by Allen Associates, Santa Barbara, above. (Photos by Ian
Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)
our best, we approach structures like living organisms, considering
the whole product in its environment instead of treating it
as an assemblage of components. Waste becomes input, energy
is generated and conserved, air and water become purified
and people are healthier and more productive. Additionally,
we're trying to educate people that environmentally friendly
structures can blend into today's lifestyles and the way people
want to live," says Dennis Allen, Allen Associates, Santa
Associates has been environmentally focused for more than 25 years.
The group built the first solar houses in Santa Barbara in the mid-1970s
and more recently is the only building contractor receiving, since
its inception four years ago, the annual "Green Builder of the Year
Award" from the Santa Barbara Contractors' Association. This year
at the association's annual banquet Allen Associates also walked
away with the Builder of the Year award and three other construction
awards, including best residential remodeling for less than $250,000,
best residential remodeling for between $250,000 and $750,000, and
best landscape and "hardscape" project.
awards on the local, state and national level for completed projects
has kept Allen Associates in the limelight for years and it also
has given Dennis an opportunity to learn from others and to refine
his green building philosophies. "It's exciting to see what's working,"
he insists. One of his latest endeavors is the instigation of the
Green Building Alliance" a group of professionals dedicated to building,
designing and landscaping projects "with the environment in mind."
With its own Web site and brochures, the alliance hopes to show
that to be truly sensitive to the environment, projects need to
begin at the design/build stage. The alliance advocates forming
a team of environmentally conscious professionals for each project
- architect, contractor, engineers and interior designer - who are
focused on current ways to create environmentally friendly projects,
structures that conserve energy, water, and resources while costing
we begin with the site as well as the lifestyle of the future residents
or occupants of the home or structure, we can produce a more environmentally-sensitive
building," Dennis explains. "Sometimes people become aware of environmental
issues after a structure is well into the design or even construction
stages. At that point any efforts to make a project green are more
of a band-aid in impact and certainly less cost effective than if
the project had been created taking with environmental concerns
from its inception."
and addition to the historic Montecito music conservatory and estate
by Allen Associates, above. (Photos by Ian Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)
Associates, a member of the Green Building Alliance, has made public
its commitment to green building in a company brochure, explaining
how environmental concerns and issues can be handled by its associates.
Calling itself " A Green Company," the brochure discusses
how homes, offices and stores can generate energy rather than consume
it, how they can produce pure air and zero waste, and especially
how structures can not only be more healthy for people but also
more comfortable and cost effective. The brochure explains the firm's
mission statement and its minimum commitment for every project.
These include avoiding CCA pressure-treated lumber, using only low
or zero volatile organic compound (VOC) paints and mastics, avoiding
particle boards that out-gas formaldehydes, taking measures to prevent
invasive molds and fungi, using insulated light fixtures, recycling
job waste, and building with wood from certified sustainably harvested
we begin with the site as well as the lifestyle of the future
residents or occupants of the home or structure, we can produce
a more environmentally-sensitive building," says Dennis
Allen, Allen Associates, Santa Barbara.
with all of this, the company promises to build more innovative
structures and to continuously seek green solutions that reduce
cost. "Making all these statements is one thing but putting
them in writing lets people know how serious we are," Dennis
explains. "Our associates meet bi-monthly to discuss how we're
progressing on projects, and about the latest research for new green
products, strategies and systems and what innovations have been
made in the industry. It' s very rewarding."
Associates, with the principal partners, includes 10 associates
who work on site and supervise the 65 employees affiliated with
the company. Each associate has a home computer terminal linked
to the main office and handles the administrative paperwork of his
projects. Most of the associates are licensed contractors but have
remained with the company because of the numerous benefits involved.
The firm includes five trainee-associates and a central office.
"Our company focuses on realizing goals," says Dennis.
"It's management by objective. We look for growth in various
areas and we meet often to keep the focus and update our objectives.
This is a serious commitment for us, we continually raise the bar
on ourselves." In addition to the company' s overall goals,
each associate is expected to have individual objectives that relate
to the company. "We are looking for growth in all areas. We
want to expand our expertise in green building, improve our training,
deepen our research, and raise our professionalism - it's all part
of where we want to go as a company ," he adds. The research
includes knowing which green products work best for this area and
are most cost-effective for the lifestyles of clients on the South/Central
Coast. "We only use products that are tested and that we have
thoroughly investigated. Our clients trust us to do that research
for them and we do. People expect more now than they used to."
remodeled by Allen Associates, Santa Barbara, with a focus
on contemporary lifestyles include this Montecito cottage,
a dining room remodel and expansion. (Photos by Ian Cronshaw,
Associates' focus on green building springs from its roots. Dennis
was teaching at the University of California at Santa Barbara and
also was assistant dean of students in the department in the mid-1970s
and often expressed an interest in alternative energy, principally
harnessing solar energy.
asked him to build a solar home. As one home led to another, his
expertise increased, until, in the late '7Os, he began teaching
about using solar energy in the home setting as well as other environmental
building approaches. By the early 1980s his group had evolved into
a crew of licensed contractors and he was no longer teaching at
UCSB. Ian, a UCSB graduate in math and science, decided construction
was more his interest than medicine. He met Dennis while taking
a weekend tiling class offered by the UCSB extension center. Dennis,
the instructor, offered him a job after the class and Ian became
a partner with Allen Associates in 1990. Now, 10 years later, Allen
Associates is nationally known because of its craftsmanship, its
leadership, and its excellent projects, especially those that are
are looking for growth in all areas. We want to expand our
expertise in green building, improve our training, deepen
our research, and raise our professionalism - it's all part
of where we want to go as a company," says Dennis Allen,
Allen Associates, Santa Barbara.
remodeled by Allen Associates, Santa Barbara, with a focus
on contemporary lifestyles include this South Coast residence,
a kitchen and dining room remodel and expansion. (Photos by
Ian Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)
a bonus, recognition for their efforts came in the form of numerous
awards from local and national organizations. In addition to his
focus on the environment and in keeping with his goal to provide
his best effort for the community in every possible area, Dennis
is a volunteer for numerous groups. He is a member of The Sustainability
Project, started in 1993, and he sits on the county's Innovative
Building Review Committee. He serves with the Mission Canyon Architectural
Review Board. He' s also co-chair of the Santa Barbara Contractors'
Environmental Committee and is the lead organizer of this year's
Green Building Parade, the first of its kind on the South/Central
Coast. "The parade is to show that green building is not just
a series of products," says Dennis. "It's a way to build
from start to finish."
the principal green builders on the South/Central Coast, Dennis,
Ian and Allen Associates are happy to be leading the way in the
green building revolution. "We want to keep learning and be
responsible for what we do," maintains Dennis. "Our commitment
to green building continues to help us create a company that is
good for the people who work here, the community we live in, and
our larger environment. In this evolving field, one never fully
arrives, but we seek ever deeper shades of green on a number of
fronts. We're determined to stay on the cutting edge in all of them."
recent remodel and addition to an old adobe home on Santa Barbara's
Riviera by Allen Associates, Santa Barbara, was winner of the Santa
Barbara Contractors Association's Green Building Award for 2000.
(Photos by Ian Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)
was recently completed by Allen Associates on this Toro Canyon Estate
and compound. (Photos by Ian Cronshaw, Allen Associates.)
Allen, left, and Ian Cronshaw, partners with Allen Associates, stand
in front of a completely remodeled home on the Santa Barbara Riviera,
winner of the 1999 SBCA Green Building Award. An auxiliary building
was constructed on the site by Allen Associates as well. (Photo
by Stillmeadow Productions.)