Building With Purpose

Remodeler Chaden Halfhill reflects on his greatest goal: to work on projects that bring about change and influence how we build

December 02, 2015
Chaden Halfhill's Silent Rivers Design + Build completely overhauled the home as an example of preserving older, smaller homes.

Above: This house, built in 1889, was moved to its current location to avoid demolition when a new parking lot was going to displace it. Silent Rivers Design + Build completely rehabilitated the home as an example of preserving older, smaller homes. Read more about the project here.

As a remodeler, my biggest goal is to work on projects that bring about change and influence how we build.

However, by stepping so far out in front of the curve—especially in a middle-market like Des Moines where it’s not always embraced—I’ve taken on a lot of financial vulnerability. I’ve chosen to do this because it’s what I believe we need as an industry.

Too often, energy efficiency is left on the sidelines when people have conversations about what they’re building. There are codes, yes, but what about the performance of existing homes? We have more older homes that are highly inefficient than all the new homes being built. When remodelers think about their work, high performance needs to be as important as aesthetics. 

For a few years now, I’ve been working on a project that sits at the intersection of sustainability and mainstream. I’m rehabbing an abandoned building in Des Moines’ historic district to create a mixed-use, sustainable site. It will be LEED Platinum certified and will house a number of nonprofit organizations with residential spaces on the upper floor. We had all the financing in place, and then some problems arose and the loan fell apart. But I’m not giving up; this is just too important. 

In my market, there are very few adopters who embrace the idea of true sustainability, but I believe it’s the future. Somebody came up with the concept for the first strip mall, and I’m sure the bankers initially laughed at the vision.

Most people in business would ask, Why are you taking this risk? Why are you struggling through this lending process? 

It’s because I believe so deeply in what I do.

I don’t want my legacy to be the creation of a great business. What I want to be remembered for is that I provided an example of what’s next. What’s possible. That’s my purpose.

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Chaden Halfhill headshot

Chaden Halfhill is CEO of Silent Rivers Design + Build, in Clive, Iowa.

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