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Sustainability in Today's American Architecture vs. Ancient Peruvian Cultures

white concrete house near green tree during daytime

Come away with us to Antiquipa with EXP Realty's Mary Jo Quay as we indulge in some white wine Rioja. Mary spent many years becoming enculturated in the Creole lifestyle, and learning about European church architecture. On the latest episode of Drink in the Style, she shares with us her opinions on how the future of modular homes should be exemplified through other industrial manufacturing as a means of providing sustainable living to the masses.


The audio link will be available soon.


Here is the transcript from our show.


Dean Martin:

Here we see and enjoy the shade. Hey brother, pour the wine. Drink the drink that I have made. Hey brother, pour the wine. Tell you why the day is sunny.


Gregory

Welcome everybody. Welcome to Drink in the Style brought to you by Habitation Furnishing + Design, as well as The District Edina. I'm your host Gregory Rich. Tonight's theme among other things is sustainability. We are joined by none other than Mary Jo Quay. Mary Jo is a woman of many, many talents from construction to real estate, to art, to interesting stories. Mary Jo, how are you?


Mary Jo

I am fabulous. Thank you so much for inviting me. I'm looking forward to this conversation.


Gregory

Well, let's get through the conversation then you can tell me whether it was worthwhile. You can't guarantee anything on the show.


Mary Jo

It's what we wanna make it.


Gregory

It's a hundred percent true. It's great to have you on the program. Let's move into our cocktology segment. Yes, I am sorry to say that our in-house cocktologist was unable to join us at the last minute, had a personal emergency. So I am sitting in the cocktological throne, if you will. And I'm going to be making pretty much nothing. Because we had very little time and sometimes in life, this is a good idea to go in and just make life simple. So I grabbed a bottle of wine that I was excited about. We went with a white wine because spring is upon us and we are about to enjoy some really nice weather. Therefore it is white wine weather. Johnson, let's hit some mixing music anyway. Fabulous. This afternoon, this evening, we are enjoying a Rioja, specifically Monte Clavijo, which was recommended by my good friend at Total Wine in Bloomington,Pascal. If you have any questions about wines, go to Total Wine, ask for Pascal, tell him Gregory Rich sent you. He will not steer you wrong. So this is a Spanish white, which is kind of rare. It is a Blanco of course 2020 is the vintage. So we are going to prepare as follows.


We've uncorked the wine, ladies and gentlemen, we twisted off the cap. I don't know why, why we, we have white wine with twist caps. Does anyone know Mary J, Mary Jo? Do you have any idea?


Mary Jo

I am stunned that the Spanish are using caps.


Gregory

I know they say it's because, boy this is a nice wine. And the vast majority of white wines seems to me these days are twist caps. So there it is. We have uncorked the wine and we're now going to pour it into our wine glass. And there it is. Our cocktail this afternoon is prepared. Ladies and gentlemen.


Mary Jo

May I interject please that your wine reference may be a great help in the future? I just read that California's having a problem with a smoky aftertaste in their wines.


Gregory

Really?


Mary Jo

Because of all the forest fires.


Gregory

Not to mention the water shortage.


Mary Jo

Right?


Gregory

Oh, my.


Mary Jo

So we may be drinking a lot more Spanish and Chilean wines.


Gregory

That's gonna push the price way, way up as well. Isn't it?


Mary Jo

Not really. Spanish and Chilean? Argentine. No, they're, they're not high-end high end as far as price. Generally not. Yes.


Gregory

… goes that saying.


Mary Jo

Yes.


Gregory

But the Spanish wines, I actually am growing really, really fond of. We had a great event at The District Edina the other, well last two weeks ago where we had the Mpls. St. Paul Magazine Spring Home + Garden kickoff.


Mary Jo

Mmm-Hmm.


Gregory

And we chose all Spanish wines, which I was really delighted with.


Mary Jo

You have to laugh at this: one time in New York, I was invited to a Spanish wine tasting dinner.


Gregory

Mm-hmm.


Mary Jo

Figuring there'd be two or three wines.


Gregory

Yes.


Mary Jo

Seven courses.


Gregory

Oh my God.


Mary Jo

Seven different wines.


Gregory

Oh my God.


Mary Jo

I remembered nothing. (Laughs)


Gregory

That was a good tasting.


Mary Jo

But the wines were excellent. And the pairings are very specific. You know, the Spanish and the French...


Gregory

They know what they're doing.


Mary Jo

Yes.


Gregory

They've spent literally...


Mary Jo

Where we're gonna spend like 16 hours.


Gregory

Centuries.


Mary Jo

Exactly, exactly.


Gregory

Working on that. But this is fun. So I'm gonna give this a quick try and see how well this works. Johnson, swallowing music, if you please. It's delicious. It's got a certain crispness, but the right amount of balance, sweetness. There's no oak in it that I'm necessarily getting now.


Mary Jo

The smell.


Gregory

Mary Jo does not drink. So unfortunately I'm gonna be drinking her share.


Mary Jo

Mm, it's a little fruity.


Gregory

It's got some fruit, unquestionably true.


Mary Jo

Tart.


Gregory

Mm, that's the crispness I suppose that I'm responding to.


Mary Jo

A nice, perfumey smell.


Gregory

Geez. Well done. (Laughs) Next time I need a cocktologist, Mary Jo, you're on my list.


Mary Jo

As I told you, when I was married, we didn't have hot and cold water. We had red and while wine.


Gregory

Which is fabulous.


Mary Jo

We had a lot of parties.


Gregory

Which is weird, because, aren't you Swedish or German? You look too...


Mary Jo

Germantic! Yeah, no husband was French and Greek.


Gregory

Oh fabulous.


Mary Jo

Yes, we had well actually we had some Irish friends too. Well, you know one or yes, but they're not so much wine. I did, we did have an, an editor, one of the magazine editors hosted. They were all horse people, you know, Irish horse people.


Gregory

Mm-hmm. (Laughs) I assume you're saying they were Irish, not Irish horses.


Mary Jo

(Laughs) They had Irish, but they, you know, they raised thoroughbreds. Seven of us, we filled, we dropped down 18 bottles of wine.


Gregory

Oh my God. Good for you. That's like a three-day hangover. Right?


Mary Jo

And the Germans, you know, they do their share.


Gregory

They do. They do. Although they're the Rieslings. I don't like the Rieslings, they're much too sweet.


Mary Jo

No, but they like real champagne. There, there are no, I, I agree. Rieslings and you get awful hangovers.


Gregory

Yes. You do too much too. High sugar content. Part of why I've stopped drinking bourbons and moved to Irish whiskeys. I mean, I didn't stop drinking bourbons, but...


Mary Jo

I will mention though, my favorite cocktail was called the airplane.


Gregory

Oh my God. The airplane that's ringing a bell.


Mary Jo

No, it's not.


Gregory

What was in an airplane? No, it is. Oh wait. Maybe I'm thinking of the aviator. Nevermind or aviation, but okay. What's an airplane?


Mary Jo

Vodka and champagne. It'll take you anywhere you wanna go.


Gregory

Oh my God. Yes. (Laughs) yes. Next week we'll be featuring the airplane for the program. Vodka and champagne.


Mary Jo

No hangover.


Gregory

Oh my God. And thus, the beginning of the end, you're witnessing it right here. Ladies and gentlemen, it all went well until Mary Jo introduced vodka and champagne.


Mary Jo

And it depends what kind, if you want a flavored vodka or if you just want vodka straight with a tart champagne.


Gregory

All right. We're seriously gonna call... And did you name it? The airplane?


Mary Jo

I did. It was my... I was caught at a party at my own house and couldn't leave. So I invented it.


Gregory

The airplane. It's a good name though. I am. I am considering calling it the Mary Jo Quay. (Laughs)


Mary Jo

No, I like the airplane.


Gregory

MJQ. (Laughs) all right. All right. We, we, we are gonna do our random question. I like doing our random question. It's something of an icebreaker, as you may recall. So Mary Jo, I want to ask you this question. What makes you angry?


Mary Jo

Wow. I used to be a little temperamental and to the point where people would back up when I came in the room. So I've decided what would really... Hypocrisy, I think, is one thing that bothers me. Yeah. People talk a gig and then it has nothing to do. However, I have learned over the years that a closed mouth gathers no foot and I have no regrets.


Gregory

(Laughs) I've, it's taken me many, many years. And I can't say I truly have embraced that quite yet because I talk a lot. But that said you're absolutely right. What's the other version of it? You know better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.


Mary Jo

You can never argue with somebody who has a staunch position.


Gregory

Mm-Hmm 


Mary Jo

If, why argue with somebody when there's no win.


Gregory

Agreed completely. All right. Good opening. Well done. Top notch. We're gonna take a quick break and then come back and talk a little bit about sustainable building and construction in the Twin Cities. Ladies and gentlemen, you are watching Drink in the Style. Well, if you're on Facebook, otherwise you're listening to it. We'll be right back.


Frank Sinatra

Come fly with me. Let's fly. Let's fly away. If you can use some exotic booze, there's a bar in far Bombay. Come fly with me. Let's fly. Let's fly away...


Gregory

I hate interrupting Frank Sinatra. And I love that song. Remember there used to be a show called, “Sounds of Sinatra.” 


Johnson

Really?


Gregory

Yeah.


Johnson

It was called “Sounds of Sinatra”?


Gregory

There are a few different Sinatra shows and they're long gone, but you know, for the love of Jiminy Cricket, as they say it needs to come back, Frank Sinatra is still amazingly good. And you know what? Every kid that I introduced to Frank Sinatra actually generally, not everyone, but most of them actually like it. We used to have a tradition where I would take my daughter and one of her friends out on the last day of school, on the boat and I would always play Sinatra. And at one point they started asking for it.


Mary Jo

They thought it was the 1960s rerun. (Laughs)


Gregory

(Laughs) I know. I know, I know. I know. Oh God. Well, anyway, we are joined by Mary Jo Quay from EXP Realty. And we're gonna talk a little bit about construction, but you know what? You're such an interesting person, before we jump into construction, let's talk a little bit about you, Mary Jo. Because you have a fascinating backstory. You lived in South America with your husband for a while.


Mary Jo

Yes. Almost nine years.


Gregory

Tell us about that.


Mary Jo

It's certainly not what I was expecting. I lived in New York for a very long time and I decided I have to leave New York. Why? Because there was a book out called Slave to New York. New Yorkers always talk about leaving and they never leave.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

And I went, I can leave. So I had friends in Paris and then I met this amazing man at a party. And he said, well, let's get married. And I was going, what? But...


Gregory

Like at the party he said, let's get married.


Mary Jo

Well, no, it took a couple weeks. (Laughs).


Gregory

Okay. Because that is one hell of a pickup line. (Laughs) that is either gonna win big time or...


Mary Jo

Well, you know, yeah, it was pretty shocking, but it happened very quickly. So the next year I moved down there and we did get married, but it was you, you know, New Yorkers. Think if you can live in New York, you can live anywhere. ‘Cause New Yorkers are entitled. It's a very specific mentality. And you know, they were black. I mean you have 18 shades of black. So I had a black wardrobe and all they would say is, who died? Who died?


Gregory

(Laughs) why do you ask?


Mary Jo

Right? Because you know, when you're in warm climates, tropical climates, everyone wears color and they wear a lot less clothes because it's hot. Mm-Hmm  what was very interesting is to me, the culture was very complicated because it was 97% indigenous Indian mm-hmm  and 3% white and the white controlled everything mm-hmm  and they would talk about that. The Indians were resentful. Well, yes, because they came out of slavery and the only response you have under slavery is yes, we want... But it was also really old fashioned. They said it's a machisto country. And I went you're joking. Right?


Gregory

No (Laughs) it is completely.


Mary Jo

It was at that point. And things that didn't make sense to me, it took me years to understand them. And then finally my husband told me that because the Moors inhabited Spain for 800 years, there is that underlying Islamic mentality.


Gregory

Makes sense.


Mary Jo

Through ancient history. For instance, there are walls around all the houses in Lima.


Gregory

Really?


Mary Jo

It's protection. Right. Everybody.


Gregory

The individual houses?


Mary Jo

Yes.


Gregory

Or is it like a gated community?


Mary Jo

No.


Gregory

Each house has its own?


Mary Jo

They have eight feet walls around everything. And it's for protection.


Gregory

Talk about your home as your castle.


Mary Jo

Yes, definitely. We're talking, we're talking modest homes. They're just, they have, if they don't have walls, they have gates to protect the homes.


Gregory

Isn't that a shame.


Mary Jo

Yeah, because it wasn't always that way. Nobody ever goes anywhere by themselves.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

So I go to market and my husband say, who's going with you? And I said, “I'm going to market. I'm going to buy eggs.” “Well, take the maid,” or “Take this.” or “Don't buy this from…”


Gregory

And he was from Peru?


Mary Jo

Oh yes, he's Peruvian. Yeah.


Gregory

Okay.


Mary Jo

Uh, he was tall, fair skinned. And also he was, he was white.


Gregory

He was an aristocrat, wasn't he?


Mary Jo

In his mind, mm-hmm.


Gregory

(Laughs) Your ex-husband.


Mary Jo

But the interesting thing was that nothing is quite what it seems. You have this top layer of what you watch is going on, but everything is going on under the table. And as a new Yorker, I totally understood that.


Gregory

Fair.


Mary Jo

You know? So when they say politicians and everything... Everything has a subculture to it. So it took me a while to pick up on that. But when I finally picked up on it, my father-in-law said, "Has vuelto más creole qui nosotros." You've turned more Creole than we are.


Gregory

Really?


Mary Jo

Yes.


Gregory

You just took to it.


Mary Jo

It's no, it's a game you have to play.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

Different cultures have different games to play.


Gregory

This is true.


Mary Jo

Or different different roles to get where they want. So that was very interesting to me. This, the Spanish history there, we were talking about architecture. One time we were pulling up to what looked like a castle and I went, wow, we got close. And it was all trompe-l'œil.


Gregory

Oh, what?


Mary Jo

Trompe-L'œil.


Gregory

What is trompe-l'œil?


Mary Jo

It was painted on the exterior to look like a castle.


Gregory

Really?


Mary Jo

Yes. So the architecture of it, they were made with straw bales. So the compacted straw were the walls.


Gregory

The house was made of straw bales and painted to look like a castle.


Mary Jo

On the exterior. To make it look like a stone castle. So at a distance it's very impressive. And of course the old architecture, the Spanish architecture is built in the square. The house is built in the square with the middle open.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

For dinners and the garden and, and that kind of thing.


Gregory

So ancient, Latin, Roman, Mediterranean style.


Mary Jo

Very much.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

And it was very, very interesting to me because the kitchen is one place. The dining room was either in the open area or a separate room. And the bedrooms were, you know, designated off in different areas.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

And even some of the more modern homes had a glassed area in the middle of the house where you had trees or greenery, but the climate allowed for that. So it was  interesting. The churches, wow. Holy magnificent! You know. Lined with silver and jewelry.


Gregory

That's where money goes.


Mary Jo

But mostly built on old Inca architecture.


Gregory

Really? The churches are rebuilt architecture? Are you saying on the foundation of Inca architecture?


Mary Jo

They rebuilt.


Gregory

Or, it's a European style church?


Mary Jo

European style church.


Gregory

Right. But on the, on the foundations mm-hmm  right of that, which we had absorbed is maybe one way of putting it.


Mary Jo

Yeah, they did. They can, you know, the church was very aggressive in converting people to Christianity, but then what happens in, in all cultures when they do that, they still have a hold on their own older culture and practice rituals kind of around the church.


Gregory

Well, it's always been the case. Christianity has been fabulous at absorbing the, I mean, you know, Christmas, of course, as we all know is the birthday of the son of, you know, of the, and the solstice of course, but you know. They've been very... It's part of why Christianity has been as successful as it is. It doesn't try to replace, it tries to assimilate.


Mary Jo

Yes. Another thing I found really interesting, we went to Atiquipa and there was an old convent. It was 450 years old and the walls are basically 10 feet thick and you know, the water fountains are in, in the, the middle. What I found fascinating is when the nuns lived there, each of them had a little cell, but when you consider a cell, it was basically a bedroom with a kitchen and a place for livestock.


Gregory

Really?


Mary Jo

And the nuns there, of course, you know, we, we assume that the religious, you know, priest and nuns are poor and that they join the convent and they live a life of poverty. Not so there, these were princesses and well, each family had to have someone that went into religious life. So they gave a dowry to the church to accept the child.


Gregory

Really?


Mary Jo

Yes.


Gregory

You would give a dowry to become a nun?


Mary Jo

And they were maintained by the family and they had livestock on the premises in, you know, their cell. Wasn't just one room. They all had a servant and livestock and a kitchen


Gregory

Really that I would never in a million years. I mean, you're the first person to mention that.


Mary Jo

Think about it. I was there and I go, I smell cow.


Gregory

(Laughs).


Mary Jo

And there were, there were only a couple of nuns there, but when it was full


Gregory

Eau de bovine.


Mary Jo

Yes, yes. Chickens, cows, pigs, whatever, because it was their food that they made themselves.


Gregory

And they would run... See that's interesting. I mean, that is absolutely fascinating. I wish you that we gotta take a quick break, but when we come back, I promise we will be talking about sustainability and house construction. And I wanna know just...


Mary Jo

10 feet, though. 10-feet thick walls are sustainable.


Gregory

Hard to believe, but absolutely true. Ladies, gentlemen, we'll be back in just a moment.


Dean Martin:

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie. That's amore. When the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine. That's amore.


Gregory

Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps the most stereotypical Italian song ever written. But God, it's still a good song because that gives Dean Martin a chance to really caress the words. Doesn't it?


Mary Jo

Absolutely.


Mary Jo

I love Dean Martin.


Gregory

Me too. I have to admit Sinatra's a better singer, but if I had a choice, I would come back as Dean Martin. Speaking of which, I'm really enjoying the wine. (Laughs) All right, ladies and gentlemen, you're listening to Drink in the Style. As we speak, this may be Saturday night, maybe seven o'clock give or take. It might be Sunday night around five, because that's when we air. And of course we are always a podcast and you can go back and dig into some of our previous shows as well as putting us on your feed for future shows. And if you are by the way, and you have any feelings of kindness, go online to iTunes and give us a five star review because that is indeed how the show grows and becomes more popular. Sound right, Mary Jo?


Mary Jo

Absolutely.


Gregory

Wonderful. All right. We're gonna talk about sustainability, but before we do, I'm gonna do a little plug here, ladies and gentlemen, or should I say naiset ja herrat, which is Finnish for "ladies and gentlemen." Have you heard about Puustelli Scandinavian Kitchens? The Finland-based Puustelli is the ecological kitchen cabinetry of choice throughout Europe. And now their amazing European kitchen cabinetry line is available in the United States. Their unmatched quality and workmanship is reflected in their mission to provide customers with access to authentic unique, and eco-friendly Scandinavian home and kitchen design offering comprehensive kitchen cabinetry services. That includes kitchen design, cabinetry, countertops, hardware. And of course, installation. Puustelli is fast becoming the premier kitchen design firm anywhere in the United States. And here in Minnesota, if you have a chance to experience the remarkable, beautiful kitchen design and products, you can visit their showroom at The District Edina using state-of-the-art technology together with European craftsmanship. Puustelli is really the only place you need to visit. If you are looking for that fabulous, sophisticated Scandinavian look and feel so stop by The District Edina and check out Puustelli's beautiful showroom located on the main floor of The District Edina. Open weekdays and through appointment, visit them online at puustelliausa.com. You won't be disappointed. Nice. Right?


Mary Jo

It's a beautiful showroom. I stop by and I talk to them and there is the only other one other showroom that I've seen that's anything like that, but it's, it's a nice warm kitchen while being very modern. So often we were in the black and white. It was a harsh feeling, but this is warm. You get, you know, you have black tones, you get the wood tones, wood is coming back. It's I want, I want, I want.


Gregory

(Laughs) Well summed up! It's true. I mean, it's not the European stuff that people sometimes think of, which tends to be kind of more of the Italian look, right? The Italian high gloss and things like that, which has its place. Although in truth in kitchens, high gloss is usually a bad idea. Puustelli is much... I don't know if you can call it a softer Scandinavian look, but I mean, the woods they use are just amazing. I mean, there's so much depth and texture to it, and yet it's still so modern.


Mary Jo

You know, we were, we were really big into minimalism before COVID hit and there were harsh lines and you know, there's nothing ever out. It's always very, very bare. But then when COVID came in, people wanted more comfort. So you know, the blankets and the cozy clothes and all of that. So we kind...


Gregory

Hygge.


Mary Jo

And we kind of lost that line.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

On the other hand, Puustelli has a combination of that, where you get that minimalist look, but it doesn't feel cold.


Gregory

Yes.


Mary Jo

It feels warm and inviting.


Gregory

You're right. You're absolutely right. And you know, if you go into their showroom, I mean, they've got a lot of greenery as well.


Mary Jo

Mm-hmm


Gregory

You know, they've got that. It it's, it's, it's truly spectacular. And especially for us here in Minnesota, where we are predisposed towards a Scandinavian type of a look, because of so many Scandinavians.


Mary Jo

Right.


Gregory

And those of us who know, know that you should not shop at IKEA. I am so sorry.


Mary Jo

No, Puustelli is the anti-IKEA it is sustainable. It is forever and recyclable.


Gregory

Absolutely true. Which lends us beautifully to a segue into sustainability. So let's, let's talk a little bit about that.


Mary Jo

Yes.


Gregory

So Mary Jo, I've heard you mention that Warren Buffet is a big fan of modular home creation.


Mary Jo

Warren Buffet asks the question, “Why are we still building like the 1800s?”


Gregory

Mm-Hmm.


Mary Jo

So what he means by that is stick-built. Stick built is... You use wood framing. You do it one-by-one onsite, you cut your wood. Typically builders will order maybe 20% more wood than they actually need because they never know for variance...


Gregory

Mm-Hmm.


Mary Jo

What might be needed. So it winds up being containers full of waste. So Warren says, "What would happen if we built cars that way?"


Gregory

Mm-Hmm , it's absurd. We, we prefab, but yet we have an assumption that any kind of modular creation is basically associated with a trailer home. And it makes no sense because honestly, in a factory you can replicate something so much more effectively, and yet you can still customize... The customization comes in the finishing and the details and how you lay these things together.


Mary Jo

Absolutely. I had the opportunity to go out to Wisconsin Homes, which was one of the premier builders for modular homes. And it was so interesting to me. I mean, they're using a stick frame basis right now and the insulation is incredible, but they do everything under a roof, in factory,. So it can be zero degrees and snowing outside and they're still putting roofs on and they have cabinetry, so they are delivered with the kitchens already installed and they do have a whole pallet of kitchens that you can choose from.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

So how it happens is they, they build this module and it can be up to 60-feet long and, but they are built onsite delivered and then coupled together. So, but it can be anything from one module, which can be like 500-square feet up to 12 modules. So, and it's also being right here in Minnesota, we have a company called Rise. We're building apartment buildings using that. So it's, you know, it's a replica, they won’t...


Gregory

Entire buildings built out of a modular system.


Mary Jo

Yes, yes. It's been happening for, I think they've been around for about five years already here in Minnesota to do that.


Gregory

You know, it's fascinating. I mean, Americans, we love mass production, everything. We love factories. We love, you know, creating things like that everywhere except in home building. And it's one of, I mean, a lot of places manufacturing like that is beneficial, but for some reason we just can't seem to break away from it. There was a period at which a modular home, you would have difficulty getting bank financing for a modular home, because they were considered mobile. And therefore they went into a much higher interest rate and very few banks wanted to necessarily...


Mary Jo

They basically consider it a car loan.


Gregory

Exactly. But that's no longer the case. I've spoken to a couple of different people about this. The construction is no longer a definitive factor in whether or not a bank is going to underwrite. Therefore, that hurdle is removed. Now, what we need to do is get people to understand that these types of production facilities are worthwhile. And to some extent, it's the only way that you can get down to, to something like, and this is a term I've heard a lot that you can expand on Volumetric Modular Net Zero.


Mary Jo

Yes. Well, first of all net zero. People hear net zero, but I can't tell you the number of real truths we've showed. I had a volumetric modular for sale. They were showing it. And I said, do you know what net zero is? And they go, "... No."


Gregory

(Laughs) yes, yes, yes. I can't quite put my finger on it.


Mary Jo

Right? So net zero, what is net zero? It really means that the… it is not using excessive energy. It doesn't leave a carbon footprint. It is not completely net zero until you have solar on there, which is providing most of your electricity, but it is net zero. Ready? So what is the big differentiation? There are a lot of ways to get to net zero. One is with modular. One is with SIPS, one's with ICFs and one are double walls. So when we back up, the modular homes will be made with SIPS, which are structurally insulated panels. Right now, most of them are made with, like, a compressed wood. Two slabs, a compressed wood with maybe eight inches of foam in between. So it's tight and it's impenetrable. And then the roof. I mean, would it make a difference on your house if you had 10 inches of insulation on the roof? Right.


Gregory

It's absurd. I mean...


Mary Jo

Just think about it.


Gregory

All the heat that's going out is just an absurd loss. So I mean, even in Minnesota where, you know, we have to deal with 40 below zero and and 85, 90 degrees in the summer, 90.


Mary Jo

Extreme temperature.


Gregory

Right. Having that level of insulation works. I mean, why don't I wonder, I mean, do you, do you have a theory? Why don't builders? I mean, even if you can't have modular design, you could still have a custom built stick home that has that level of, of, of insulation. Yes. But they never do.


Mary Jo

A few do mm-hmm  I had the opportunity. How did I find him? I don't remember, but there is an architect, Bill Maclay.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

And he wrote the book, the New Net Zero in 2014. He built a compound, a net zero compound in 1970.


Gregory

Okay.


Mary Jo

Where he raised his family and you know, with his friends. But what he does is he builds a double wall mm-hmm  so basically you have an inside wall, an outside wall and you fill that cavity with insulation.


Gregory

Makes all the sense in the world.


Mary Jo

Right? So I was lucky enough to have like an hour long conversation with him on what he does, why he does it and he's an architect. So, and in the Northeast, here's the thing people in Minnesota say, well, it's cold here. I mean, it's not California where it's 86 and sunny and you know, so how could you, you know, it gets cold here. Doesn't fly, right. We're 40 below. It doesn't work here. Mm-Hmm  well, the thing is Canada and the Northeast part of this country are way ahead of Minnesota. Mm-Hmm  Minnesota doesn't even appear on the net, zero rankings across the country. They're just, it's invisible. And I thought that's not right. I mean, if Canada I had an interview with a company called logics and they build ICFs, which are insulated concrete forms. Mm. So we have two slabs of foam and then they pour concrete... You, you set it out. You, meaning people who know what they're doing, set it out into the foundation… stack up a foundation, put in rebar and then pour concrete into the cavity where it cures mm-hmm , you know, you can pour concrete up to 20 below and it cures in place.


Gregory

I did not know that. Seriously?


Mary Jo

It's just...


Gregory

It doesn't... Does it freeze in the mixer?


Mary Jo

No, it cures in place. It was fine. No, I never would have been out there with bare hands. No.


Gregory

So you could build through the entire winter. That's not the type of going out there with all the nails... you've got the, you know...


Mary Jo

No, you don't have workmen out there with bare hands. No.


Gregory

It would increase the housing productivity at least 30%. 'Cause there are three months...


Mary Jo

Think about that. You have six inches of concrete, like concrete block, except it's pour concrete. So it has an amalgam in it. It's not like the old concrete where contractor told me there are two kinds of concrete, concrete that'll crack and concrete that is cracked.


Mary Jo & Gregory

(Both laugh)


Mary Jo

This is another kind of, this is concrete, but it has amalgam in it. So it has some potential strength, but it is insulated both on the outside and on the inside. So it's entirely sealed against water penetration and even earth movement on there. So, you know, in Minnesota, the earth always is moving a little bit, you know?


Gregory

Right. Mm-hmm  yeah.


Mary Jo

Everywhere, not extremely, but a little bit. So ICFs is one option and those houses will, you know, they're Fort Knox. They're just really sturdy and they use it a lot in commercial. The SIPS panels are changing. Also. I will be working with a company called Hopewell 360 and they're developing a new kind of structurally insulated panel, which is made almost with a ceramic. What's so interesting to me about all of this is that it is so sustainable. Not only is it, is it sturdy as it is now you think about the modules, they, you have to deliver them. So they have to be built stronger, tighter than a stick built house, but they also steel band it, put it on a truck, put it on a crane, float it through the air and put it onto a foundation. It's gotta be pretty sturdy. Mm-Hmm  it can withstand up to 180 mile an hour winds, which is, you know, what is it? The highest hurricane is about 140. It is anti-seismic and it is pre-protected against rain. And I think that fire retardant they're working on has like a four hour fire resistant, really? So the materials themselves are so much more sustainable. They talk about net and zero saving energy. But what they do is they save housing inventory. Mm-Hmm  so if you have a fire close by you don't don't have that problem. The other thing is when you're in any of these buildings with any, whether it's a double wall ICFs or sustainable, it's like a sound studio because you have these super thick walls. So you can...


Gregory

If people could only experience it, right? I mean that level, I mean, that's what we want is we want an insular home where we feel safe, where we feel secure and having that it's like when you go to Europe, the walls are plaster and stone and you just have a different feel.


Mary Jo

Absolutely. I have you know, a buyer come in, well, you know, public came into the house that, that I was holding open and he said, you know, online, this doesn't look like a big deal, but when you're standing here, you feel it, this is a really big deal. Yeah.


Gregory

Yeah. The energy that you're getting off of those walls and that feeling is very, very different. Yeah. I'm with you, I'm with you. There was a time when America just adopted whatever seemed like the best route, the cheapest that made us great. And now we are simply entrenched in our current system. All right. We're gonna take another quick break. And we are indeed gonna pour the wine. We're gonna come back with our last segment right after this break. So folks, I'm having a shot of tequila to keep myself warmed up. You should probably do the same and I'll see you back here.

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. Fabulous. "Cabaret." A great great song guys, if you can't, I need to start Johnson. I'm going to start doing this and we'll start publicizing it. I'm gonna create like a Spotify playlist for Drink in the Style where we are putting the albums that we're featuring per episode…


Johnson

We already have a playlist. You set up a number of years ago. I think when you first started the show, there's a lot of good stuff on there that we could put into a playlist.


Gregory

Did I really?


Johnson

Yeah.


Gregory

This is the hazard of drinking on the radio. (Laughs)


Mary Jo

At one point you did write it down.


Gregory

At one point I wrote it down.


Johnson

At one point you put together like 30, 35 songs. There's some good stuff on here. So we should, we should do that.


Gregory

Yeah. Yeah. You know what, I'll tell you exactly what happened. I used to... Back at the beginning of the show, I would, I would mine my personal music collection for the intro and outro takes on everything. And then suddenly I lost all that music. It could not be transferred like to a new iPhone or something like that. So then I started doing the Sinatra stuff, et cetera. Although there was a lot of Sinatra at the time, but yeah, I have to go back to that. You're right. Drink in the Style 2022 playlist. Yeah. And by the way, you know, we're gonna be releasing the new drink in this, or re-releasing the drink in the style cocktail compendium which is gonna be coming out in the next few weeks. And it's called the 2022 Cocktail Compendium Reloaded.


Johnson

Oh, I like it.


Gregory

Yeah. Isn't that great? Isn't that a great, that was John Verba who came up with that.


Johnson

I take tonight's drink though is not gonna make the list. (Laughs) Wine. This is gonna be one page that's wine.


Mary Jo

How about the Airplane?


Johnson & Gregory

Uh the airplane!


Gregory

Very well. I am looking forward to trying that next week. I really, really am. Okay. So Mary Jo. We've been talking about construction and sustainability. Yes. if people are interested in building a house using some of the techniques that we've talked about.


Mary Jo

Mm-hmm


Gregory

You can help facilitate that. Correct?


Mary Jo

Absolutely. I've been studying this, every day's a learning curve. Mm-Hmm  I have my little box of what I know, and I have a warehouse of what, I don't know. (Laughs)


Gregory

(Laughs) It's perfect.


Mary Jo

Yeah. There's a lot to learn. There are a few builders who are building sustainable homes.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

Um when you see some of the big companies who say they're green, that's called "greenwash." It's not quite so green, and there are different ways to tell, but there are some that are very, very committed to it, and that are building good homes. And this will be growing right now. The builders are faced with a whole bunch of problems. They're number one, as we talked about wood went up 255%, labor’s short, the appliances… it take six months to get a new refrigerator. Land is scarce, you know, so to keep building further and further out you know, some areas like Hugo, there are four developments in Hugo right now. I mean, that's amazing isn't it? Who knew mm-hmm  so you, but they're facing all of these problems and rising costs. How does sustainable help that? Number one, if you have things that you are a factory where you can manufacture your SIPS panel or your modules inside 365 days a year, regardless of the weather, you don't have those long delays like between October and March mm-hmm  so you can build all winter. The other thing that nobody's talked well, we are talking about it is cost Mm-hmm So a couple years ago, modular or sustainable was about the same price. Maybe a 12% bump Mm-hmm But as the factories get going and are able to produce more efficiently, those prices will go down and they will be less costly than stick built. The other thing is I watched a duplex being built in one day,


Gregory

Are you kidding?


Mary Jo

They built the four modulars were pre-built in the factory. The foundation was poured. So, and it was nine degrees outdoors. They creamed in four modules, set them on the foundation in one day. Now these are brought in and they're pre-wired because there are channels through the foam where you can pre-wire and you can pre plumb. So when it gets on site, you hook it up Mm-hmm And, but the, the basic building happened in one day, and yes, they had a crew. The crew has been trained, but as the crew gets more accustomed to this, you know, like the first build is always a little more experimental.


Gregory

Unquestionably.


Mary Jo

So as, and as I mentioned, I talked to the manager Stinson Builders, which is a well-known builder. They built SIPS homes. So they project manager, construction company built his own house on Medicine Lake with the help of a colleague and an 80-year old neighbor. (Laughs)


Gregory

(Laughs) seriously?


Mary Jo

Yes. They put it up. I think in about 10 days.


Gregory

The 80-year old neighbor, was he just basically just bringing over Hamm's beer?


Mary Jo

I don't know! Maybe a ham sandwich. I don't know. But the SIPS panels come there. It's like a puzzle that you put together and you, you know, it, it, it is like Legos mm-hmm. Hmm  so, but you can personalize it. When I went to Wisconsin home, everybody thinks module, oh God, I'm living in a trailer. They have a book of like 200 designs. Right. And you can use them and inside you wouldn't know that it's a modular mm-hmm  mm-hmm  except that they have no furnace, they had a space heater. He did the whole house. You're kidding in the dead of winter. And I went, it's 70 degrees in here. How, because the walls are so thick. The insulation is thick. Once it's warm, it holds that heat. The other thing is...


Mary Jo

What about the about air circulation? I mean, it reminds me of, I mean, remember we had that problem in the nineties, we had started to make houses so airtight that we were having difficulty with air quality.


Mary Jo

Well, all houses are built tight now. Houses built post 2006 are 40% tighter and more efficient than anything built pre 2006. So it's by law that you have to have air exchangers in there because otherwise you get stagnant air Mm-hmm The other thing is the kind of heating we have right now, gas heating eventually will be phased out for heat pumps. And everybody raises their hands saying, oh my God, heat pumps. You know, they don't work at X degrees, but the thing is, heat pumps are getting much more efficient. Now they work 80% efficiency up to 20. And then if you, it gets really cold, you have backup. I talked to an architect who built himself a passive home. He has nothing but heat pumps, huge windows on the south side. So they attract heat. He said he barely used his heating system at all during the winter.


Gregory

That's amazing.


Mary Jo

I know.


Gregory

Absolutely amazing.


Mary Jo

So, you think, "Why doesn't everybody build this way?"


Gregory

Right? It is the question.


Mary Jo

Right? Because people have so much invested... You know, I ran a company for a while and the word "change" was a mortal sin. Everyone would, so I could use "shift." I could use "evolve." I could use whatever else.


Gregory

"Adapt," "pivot," Whatever.


Mary Jo

Yes. Right. Because they go, "No, no. No change." Because people are afraid of change and they think we can't do it here. They're doing it in Canada. They're doing it in New England. The gas company in Vermont is selling electric water heaters, electric on-demand water heaters. So, do you think they don't know that we're going forward with energy efficiency?


Gregory

See, resisting change. The only thing that... Change is inevitable, the only thing that resisting change can accomplish is ensure that you are passed by others. We need to learn how to adapt again. We need to change. I mean, it's like cars. I mean the gas, the internal combustion engine… I despise the internal combustion engine and everyone would argue time and again, that electric is too expensive. Electric is too hard to recharge, electric is this... No, it's coming. It's inevitable. And the fact that we're fighting against it, just forestalls the inevitable, and let's our insurers [know] that we're gonna be falling behind.


Mary Jo

I love the people that say I'll never buy electric and I go, "Wow, you better get really good at walking." (Laughs)


Gregory

Yeah. It's a great… it's absolutely true.


Mary Jo

Even car makers of gas are saying, now we can retrofit your existing car into electric.


Gregory

You know, I'm interested in that because it's occurred to me many times. Like I would love to have a vintage car. I mean, my God.


Mary Jo

Mm-hmm


Gregory

I think about some of these beautiful designs with the curves, but I do not want the trouble of a mechanical car like that. Individual engines on each of the four tires connected through, you know, a fundamental axle is not hard to achieve.


Mary Jo

Absolutely. They are working on it. I was, I was amazed. Volkswagen is saying now they want to take over Tesla's world here.


Gregory

Mm-hmm


Mary Jo

But why aren't we doing the same for homes?


Gregory

That's true. That's true.


Mary Jo

Um new homes will be all electric and it'll be efficient and sustainable. And we'll all have a good time.


Gregory

Quick. Throw us your email address.


Mary Jo

MaryJo.Quay@EXPrealty.com. And I will, I am rebuilding my YouTube channel devoted, exclusively to new construction and energy efficiency.


Gregory

Beautiful. There it is. Folks. If you have interest, please reach out to Mary Jo. She can help you out tremendously on that.


Mary Jo

Thank you.


Gregory

All right. There it is my friends. We have drunk our way through another episode on behalf of Habitation Furnishing + Design and The District and Mary Jo, I'd like to wish everybody good luck this coming week. And I'll finish by paraphrasing Socrates: "The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know." Goodnight, everybody.


Dean Martin

Wait 'til you see the way she walks. Hey brother, pour the wine...