Brian Gardner

It all started when I was old enough to safely operate (maybe a little before that) a weed-eater and lawnmower and I would help my dad take care of our 3 acre property off of LimeKiln in Nevada County. Weekends were full of hours of mowing and weed-eating the grass, battling the parrot weed in the pond, taking care of animals, trimming trees, dragging brush, and burn piles. When I got a little older, I started my own little yard maintenance business and hired friends to help me with some of the bigger projects.

My first real experience in the construction trade was with a framing company when I turned 20. I helped with additions, remodels, and built custom homes for almost 5 years all over the greater Sacramento area including high end locations like Serrano, Cameron Park, and Winchester to name a few.

After the 2008 market crash, I got a job working for SolarCity. I got experience installing solar, but the main reason I got hired was to be part of an Energy Efficiency Upgrade install crew that they were interested in developing. Under the supervision of Dale Garren, to whom I attribute most of my training, knowledge, confidence, and insight, I became a BPI Certified Building Analyst and audited a few hundred homes doing CAZ testing, Blower Door Testing, and Duct Leakage testing. I developed the Home Auditor training documents and trained others in the company to use the test equipment. For just under 4 years I worked side by side with 3 other installers and we all did test-in and test-out for Energy Efficiency upgrade rebates for our customers as well as installed a wide range of energy efficiency upgrades which include but are not limited to: Air Sealing, Insulation, Ductwork, Properly Designed HVAC systems using Manual D duct design and Manual J load calculations and Manual J sizing design, hydronic air to air HVAC heating systems, Mini-Split Heat Pump systems, LED lighting retrofits, HRV’s, ERV’s, High Efficiency Whole House Fans, On-Demand Water Heaters, High Efficiency Condensing Water Heaters, Hybrid Electric Water Heaters, Heat Pump Water Heaters, Variable Speed Pool Pumps, and Variable Flow Pool Pumps… phew…that was long winded.

Then one day I got the opportunity to buy some property in Nevada County and I left Sacramento. In between working for SolarCity and moving back to Nevada County I worked at a bar on top of assisting people with all kinds of residential remodels such as kitchens, laundry rooms, flooring, sheetrock, decks, and landscaping as well as completely gutted one of the houses on my property and did a complete interior remodel which included moving the kitchen, new flooring, adding a laundry room, adding a fire place, switching to an on-demand water heater, and all new custom made cabinets (by a cabinet maker, installed by me, I won’t claim I made those), built a fence, and put in a big garden. I was also lucky enough to do a short stint at a concrete company that did foundations for HUGE custom homes in Truckee and Tahoe. I have major respect for concrete workers, that is some of the hardest work I have ever experienced.

One weekday morning I was in town and I saw a truck with the Sustainable Energy Group logo on the side and decided to myself “Self, you should go check out what they are all about. They sound like they might be a good fit.” I was hired the following week and have been with Sustainable Energy Group ever since. I came in as an installer and then started helping with as many things as I could persuade them to let me do. Since that day, I have had the esteemed opportunity to work with extremely knowledgeable people and although I thought I knew everything, I have not stopped learning every day I am here. Ray Darby, the mastermind behind Sustainable Energy Group, is a legend in the Energy Efficiency and Solar community and is someone that I consider myself lucky to be mentored by.