Green Buildings of Tomorrow
As the nonstop development of cities leaves indelible marks on the environment and precious natural resources, it’s more important than ever for the next generation of builders to have an appreciation for sustainable design and to create energy-efficient structures. Collin Coltman, 2016 graduate of the U of M’s Construction Management program, understands the importance of green building and weaves it into his personal and professional ambitions.
“There’s a quote from the philosopher Marshall McLuhan that sums up what I believe to be true about building,” Coltman says. “It goes, ‘We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.’”
Coltman explains, “By building green, sustainable buildings we are shaping the people who live or work in them to be more thoughtful and sustainable, too. This is one main reason why I’m interested in sustainable buildings that are energy- and resource-efficient. I love the innovation and problem solving in the world of sustainable design and construction.”
Since Coltman was a kid playing with LEGO and Lincoln Logs on the rug at home in Lindenhurst, Illinois, he knew he wanted to be a builder. Over the years he developed a love for the built environment, especially energy-efficient ones. This interest led Coltman to the U of M. Originally intent on pursuing solely Building Science as a major, Coltman then discovered that with a more planning and hard work, he could earn a degree in Construction Management too. It turned out to be a perfect combination for Coltman, who has completed a dual degree—a BASc. in Construction Management and a BS in Building Science.
“What surprised me most about the Construction Management degree was how group- and project-oriented the classes are,” Coltman says. “This makes perfect sense, given the nature of the industry. All the students in this program are so hardworking.”
Coltman is pretty hardworking himself. In 2014 and 2015 he competed in the Department of Energy’s Race to Zero Student Design Competition. In 2014 his team brought home four awards, including Best Technical Integration, Best Presentation, Best Production Home Integration, and Special Recognition for Construction Documents. And in 2015 his team took home the Grand Award. He also competed in the 2015−16 National Association of Home Builders Residential Construction Management Competition in Las Vegas, a competition in which his team earned Rookie of the Year honors. On top of that, Coltman is dreaming up plans for building his own net-zero tiny house.
“Designing and building a home that’s not only energy-efficient, but is also low-impact in its resource use, is one way I can bring green building into my life,” he says.
As for Coltman’s professional life, he has secured a job with Twin Cities-based Permasteelisa North America, a contractor in engineering, manufacturing, and installation of architectural envelopes and interior systems. Coltman is excited to work for this progressive contractor with its cutting-edge research and development of nonsilicon photovoltaic solar panels for the skins of buildings. This is where innovation is happening, Coltman says.
“I’m looking forward to applying the knowledge and skills developed from being part of the Construction Management program—be it in the office, on the job site, or on the tiny home I plan to build,” he says.
It will be interesting to check in on Coltman in a few years. We hope to find him relaxing on the porch of his self-designed net-zero house, sketching the plans for the green buildings of tomorrow.