Last month Dan did some surgery on Norm’s reclaimed woodstove he got from his in-laws beach cabin, giving it a secondary combustion manifold using outside air.
The idea is to make it burn the gasses released by the wood that conventional stoves waste.
Dan says, “We put in an air supply line piped from the outside to feed the fire so the fire isn’t pulling the warm air from the house’s envelope which helps retain warmth.”
“That air supply then feeds into a manifold overtop of the fire. Dozens of little holes were drilled into a steel tubing manifold I built to spread air out through the stove. A smaller air supply splits off from the manifold at the bottom of the stove, runs across the bottom and to the front of the stove to assist with convection and combustion. Norm will then lines the walls of the stove with firebricks.”
What’s the point of doing all this??
So this fire could burn hotter and more efficiently! 🔥
Norm reports back post-retrofit saying that “the wood stove system is working perfectly! It probably cleans the smoke up to maybe 50 percent, and burns the gasses out of the emissions as well as increasing efficiency of the burn within the burn chamber – increasing the efficiency from about 80 percent to 95 percent!”
( SO cool! )
Norm continued to say, “You can tell it is a clean burn because the glass stays clean and you have a really cool fire. The actual flame in the stove comes not just from the bottom, but it shoots down from the top – making it a really cool flame from both directions, but it’s not overly hot!”
📸 Thanks Norm & Dan for sharing your “sustainability” weekend adventures and photos of your project! 😀
Company Culture Blog: Feat. Nicole’s Extra Curricular Activities
Written by: Nicole Miller
At TC Legend Homes, our crew is dedicated to sustainability and environmentalism even outside of work. One of the ways crew member Nicole shows this dedication is through citizen scientist volunteering. With a degree in Environmental Science and a passion for marine biology, she puts these to work volunteering through RE Sources participating in their Intertidal Monitoring. She has participated in 5 seasons of the monitoring starting in 2014. The monitoring consists of specialists and citizens alike taking data on the intertidal zone at the Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay aquatic reserves. Specifically looking at things like the beach elevation, substrate and what species are living in each section of the intertidal zone.
In the pacific northwest, we pride ourselves on our beautiful landscape, with the mountains to our East and ocean to our West. We love spending time at both but seem to forget the impacts humans have on these ecosystems or were simply not taught what magical worlds lie within. That’s where monitoring comes in! These data sets provide snapshots into the health of the intertidal ecosystem which is crucial as the globe experiences higher temperatures. These aquatic reserves are also located around the refineries, which means the data will act as a baseline in case there is ever any kind of oil spill or other catastrophic event. That way the refineries can be properly held accountable, and we know what species were affected.
Firstly, let’s look at what even constitutes the intertidal zone. The intertidal zone is the point between high tide and low tide, otherwise known as the foreshore. The backshore is the portion that only gets covered in water in extreme high tides/weather events and is often where we hang out on the beach.
For the surveys, profile lines are setup running from the backshore to the water line and transect line are run perpendicular at the +1, 0 and -1 tides. On those transects, quadrats are placed to take data from.
Here’s an example of what one of those quadrats may look like.
The goal is to identify everything big and small. On the left is a moon glow anemone and on the right in the circle is an itty-bitty sculpin (fish) blending in with the shell debris and sand. Notice the barnacles attached the rock below the sculpin and the green seaweed.
The specialists flipped this rock and found multiple different sea stars, a chiton (the plated creature toward the top of the rock) and sea sponges (notice the orange and white splotches). Disclaimer: if you flip a rock on the beach, please be sure to *gently* place the rock *exactly* back in the orientation in which you found it to ensure the safety of the critters living on and under the rock. Otherwise, you may squash the critters or leave them exposed to dry up and die. And I think we can all agree that we don’t want that!
Keep in mind that you don’t have to lift up rocks to observe some cool critters! Here you can see a couple of purple Pisaster sea stars on the side of the rock and the end of a sea cucumber (orange) poking out from under it. This rock didn’t need to be touched to see these beautiful creatures!
Sometimes you’ll see something like this in the middle of a sandy area. These are two sea anemones buried in the sand and protecting themselves during the low tide. Be careful not to step on them! Or any sea critters for that matter.
The intertidal zone is a very biodiverse area that can be fun to explore. Once you know how to look, you’ll start noticing more and more life!
TC Legend – A Value’s Based Company – A Feminine Perspective
Written by: Senna Scott (Edited by: Sarah DesRosiers)
Something that we don’t hear much about in the construction industry, is the voice and perspective of the Feminine. I am grateful to say that there has been so much growth, progress, and change over the past 10 years that I’m hoping more women consider entering the industry.
We’ve posted about many of our accomplishments, the houses we’ve built, our team wins, awards, and events. But what is it like for a female, behind the scenes, at TC Legend?
I’m Senna. I am the Office Manager and head of HR, at TC Legend Homes. I primarily run our finances, books, taxes, payroll, marketing, safety, employee relations and IT. We’re still a small business, so we all wear many hats to get the job done!
This topic is very dear to my heart and is an article I’ve been wanting to write for a long time now. For the past 12 years, I have worked in the Energy Engineering & Construction Industry, at various corporate companies. Being a young woman employed in a male-dominated industry, I’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity. Working for TC Legend Homes has been unlike any other experience I’ve had.
I was the first woman to work for TC Legend back in 2015. When I started, I worked half-time on the job-site and half-time in the office. I was eager to learn how to build an energy efficient home. I remember vividly the day that I received my first tool belt from Dan, one of our crew members. I loved being a part of the crew! While I only worked for the company for 6 months, before returning to a corporate job, a seed had been planted. There was something different about this company compared to other jobs in the industry. This prompted me to stay in contact with Ted, TC’s founder, over the next few years. In 2019, the company went through a reorganization of management and ownership. Norm DesRosiers became co-owner of the company and office staff was also going through a major transformation. Life had brought me back to Bellingham, and in early 2020, Ted reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in coming back to work for TC. I agreed, eagerly! The driving force behind my decision to return to this company was that I consider it to be a heart-based company. By heart-based company, I mean we really flipping CARE! We care about the work we do, our clients, and each other.
I’m a very empathetic person, which means I feel the energy and people’s feelings easily. Often, I know how someone is feeling even before they do. I can sense the ‘energy’ of a person or a company’s intentions very quickly. My sense of TC has been spot on and vastly different from that of the corporate companies I have previously been employed. It is a company that truly values equality, integrity, and a deep desire to make the world a better place.
We care about our customers. We care about our employees. We care about the earth. We care about the work we do. We care about every house we build. We care about future generations and about our kids having options to own a safe, affordable, and efficient home one day. We care about the industry and want to change how things have been!
TC is such a contrast from other jobs I have had in the field. Before TC, I worked among money-driven managers, employees, teams, and customers. I had hoped to do meaningful work, but I felt so drained, and even suffered health problems from over-working 50, 60, and sometimes even 70 hour work weeks. I never saw where my efforts and energy went. I have experienced work environments where bosses and general managers have belittled, made sexual implications or jokes, who have completely disregarded what I’ve said, who have taken the credit for my ideas or work, and who have even slapped a female co-worker’s bottom on my shift. Unfortunately, I know there are many women who share similar and far worse stories of misogyny in the workforce. Women have had to ‘fight’ their way to ‘prove’ themselves, particularly in this industry. Often, women in the workforce, have to choose between work and family, missing out on child rearing and homelife. TC Legend Homes is nothing like these other work experiences. It is a safe work environment.
I feel so grateful and privileged to say that I don’t have to sacrifice time, with my kiddo, for work. TC Legend values the importance of family life and caring for our children. I am a single Mom. As an employee at TC, I can work from home. I am able to balance work, family, and social life with ease. Plus, I love the work I do! At TC, my voice and ideas are heard and valued.
Working for this company has healed me in many ways. I have grown as an individual and shed some of my wounding after working in misogynistic work environments. For example, I used to swear a lot because that is how I observed men talking in the corporate world and I was trying to “keep up with the men.” I also used to make crude jokes. I recall Ted pointing out that I swore more than anyone else in the company. This surprised me as I was unaware that I was doing this and it forced me to discover why I felt the need to use foul language around men. This feedback from my boss prompted me to examine how working in a male-dominated industry had not only shaped me, but how this didn’t have to be the way I engage in a work environment anymore. I don’t need to “keep up with the men.” I can be me.
This is just one example of my own internalized patriarchy. The fight against sexism, which is work we all must do, regardless of gender, if we want to build a better future and a safer industry!
At TC Legend, there is a high intolerance for unnecessary profanity. There is also a high intolerance toward misogynistic behavior and sexual harassment. We care about the safety of our employees!
A heart-based company is only accomplished by having great leaders who are solid in their shared values and who hire passionate and value-driven employees.
Ted is one of the most idealistic people I’ve ever met. I laugh looking back over all his soap-box speeches of the future and what we need to do to improve as an industry as well as a society. I met him at a Built Green Conference, in Seattle, back in 2014.I remember vividly his long, grown-out orange beard. He was wearing an orange sweatshirt, with his kids’ painted hand prints. I remember thinking “I want THAT guy as a boss!”
One book Ted lives by is called Let My People Go Surfing, by Patagonia’s CEO and founder Yvon Chouinard, who shares his unique philosophy. Ted has loaned me the book before, and no, I never read it. I’m more of an audio book type *cough* millennial *cough* , but the message is clear in the title. Take care of your employees, give them a good work/life balance, and your business will thrive.
And this is very clear in how we operate. When there’s conflict, I have witnessed time and time again, an honest and proactive approach to find resolve, and a solution that takes care of the employee.
Our crew has a Four Day work week. Hopefully, America can one day mandate this for all . We give Ski season passes as a benefit to boost morale in the winter months. We genuinely want happy and healthy employees. I like to joke that Ted could write the book Let My People Go Skiing!
Co-owner, Norm, is one of the most grounded (for a water sign 😉), neutral, perspective-honoring, humble, objective, and driven humans. He has an impeccable work ethic. He’s such a great balance to Ted. Norm is also caring. He cares deeply about our planet and lives life in alignment with the native philosophy, “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Norm cares about our employees and strives to manage the company and client relationships with integrity. Norm has a lovely wife and two girls. One of my first memories of him was being on our weekly meeting call and Jake asking him what color his nails were painted that week. They were pink! He let his girls paint his nails!
What I appreciate most about both Ted and Norm, is the level of respect they’ve given me over the years. They care about my counsel, my ideas, and look to me as an equal. They are both examples of men that honor their own ‘feminine.’ By this, I mean, they honor their own and individual’s emotions, having great respect for women, apologize when wrong, and prioritize harmony, safety and balance for themselves and their employees.
Our not-so-spoken-about philosophy is one of balance and equality. When we recognize the strengths of our employees, regardless of gender, we all thrive. When we also honor and recognize strengths we can utilize from gender, we also thrive. When we offer equal pay, benefits, offer leveraging opportunities for women and minorities, we set a new precedent.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve hired on two more *amazing* young women that have significantly shaped and enhanced both TC Legend Homes and our sister Design Company, Powerhouse Designs.
Talia, a recent graduate from Western Washington University, with her passion for designing and building zero-energy ready homes, has learned the role of a Draftswoman at an incredible pace. She’s gotten down our formula of net-zero energy homes and is capable of leading her own clients through the Design Phase. With her love for the STEM world and all things technical, she’s even developed a whole new sector for our business, offering Consulting services for certifying Built Green (which the requirements have been changing) AND offering Embodied Carbon Calculation Services!!
(I’ll leave it to Talia to educate us more on Embodied Carbon & her calculations in future blogs!)
Nicole, another passionate graduate from Western Washington University with former years of experience coordinating and managing in the housing industry. She has taken on Project Manager and Office Admin support! She supports our clients with product selections, ordering materials, making sure they arrive on site, handling contracts, draws, and profitability analysis. From applying for awards, attending events, being in the ‘know’ about regulations and code changes, she has significantly improved many of our systems! The amount of work she’s taken off of Ted & Norm, so they can spend more time managing on site, handling technical operations, doing more profit- generating tasks, and spending more time with their families is invaluable! Above all else she has significantly improved our client communication and has given our clients even more of a voice – that’s HUGE!
And lest I forget, Jake, our head Draftsman of Powerhouse Designs, who used to be a stay-at-home Dad, is one of the warmest and most eccentric people, with a brilliant mind! He’s been another pillar of supporting myself over the years and training Talia to his level, and beyond!
Our whole crew are brilliant, unique individuals (I’ll be show casing our construction crew in future blogs)! It’s truly an honor to work alongside such educated, progressive and value-based individuals! I know every day I am showing up to make a difference, even if it’s from behind-the-scenes. 😊
We are one of many companies that are raising the bar – stepping in the right direction of creating a new standard. Truthfully, one that should have always been the norm. May we honor the women that have come before us in the workforce, and the men who stand beside us, lift us up, and who strive to make the world a better place for our daughters and granddaughters!
Together, we are creating a brighter future for generations to come!