My name is Ryan Cowan and I am the founder and General Manager of RG Cowan Design Build in Grand Junction, Colorado. I have never written a blog before so this will be my first. My goal for this article is to share our journey as myself and my amazing team enhance our skills with the goal of building durable, architecturally significant, energy-efficient, Toward Net Zero homes.
I have been in construction for the better part of my adult life. My father was a custom home builder as I grew up in Fort Wayne Indiana so designing and building custom homes is deeply ingrained in me. I have always had a passion for designing and building high-quality homes that are well thought out and built to last. This passion for thinking and building is what inspired me to start RG Cowan Design Build in 2003 and to further my knowledge by studying Environmental Design at the University of Colorado in 2009.
I have always been driven to learn, grow, and do things better. Thanks to this drive, we have developed great strategies and standards for how we build our high-quality custom homes, but our current standards are not enough for what we feel our role in building should be. Learning and growing as people is deeply embedded in our company culture. Our current methods and standards will not take us all the way to Net Zero, so we have dedicated ourselves to this mission of building every custom home in this direction. We believe that by building homes that are deeply considered, thoughtful, and based in quality, we can provide our clients with homes that are healthy, comfortable, resilient, and lasting.
I am a thinker, problem solver, designer, maker, and I build custom homes. I am feeling the need to grow, learn, and expand my knowledge and the skills that define what our team does for our clients and what it means for the future of RG Cowan Design Build. I have always enjoyed the technical side of building which is why I have always appreciated what Building Science can teach us about the quality of the homes we build. Building Science is the understanding of buildings as systems and how an integrated approach will impact energy efficiency, durability, comfort, and indoor air quality. This understanding is essential to innovating and creating high-performance, net zero, and Passive House Certified homes. This is why our custom home standards have been far above the building code since the first home we completed in 2009 in Glade Park, Colorado, but the world we are living in today is different than it was in 2009. Our role in the future of building feels more important and more pressing, and we want to be leaders for others to follow.
For me, John Ruskin’s quote rings true when he stated “When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone.” This speaks to me and to our mission – it is the primary definer of how we move forward. We must learn to build better because we build for the future, the unknown, and uncertainty. My entire team will be joining me on this journey, and you will get to meet each of them along the way. Beginning with my own role in building science, Chase’s role in estimating and project management, and our unifier and integrator Miranda who keeps us all together.
Author’s note: We want to share this journey with you so that you may learn along with us. We not only want to share our Toward Net Zero process with our future clients, but we also want to encourage other builders and trade partners to come along so they too can build better homes. We alone cannot change the quality of home building in Western Colorado, so I hope we can encourage others to join our mission and our journey Toward Net Zero.