Sustainable Professional of the Year

The Joseph Kneidinger Sustainability Professional of the Year Award is presented to the professional that best fulfills or symbolizes the commitment to environmental sustainability. The nominated professional will be an IAPMO member.

This award will be presented during IAPMO’s Annual Education and Business Conference.  Recipients of this award will be notified in advance and provided a complimentary registration to participate in the awards ceremony and conference events.

 Originally established as the Green Contractor of the Year Award, the IAPMO Board of Directors, in 2010, chose to honor the late Joseph Kneidinger by including his name in the title.  Then, in 2021, the award was renamed to ensure any sustainability professional would be considered.

This award is named in memory of Joseph Kneidinger who made a significant impact through his continuing education and expertise in sustainable practices.

Previous recipients:

2023     Stephanie Tanner

2022     Doug Bennett

2021     James Kendzel

2020     **Virtual Conference**

2019     Mary Ann Dickinson

2018     Amir Tabakh

2017     Arnie Rodio

2016     Bill Hoffman

2015     John Koeller

2014     Gary Klein

2013     Bill Erickson

2012     Kevin Tindall

2011     Chuck Fell

2010     Joseph Kneidinger (posthumously)

2009     David Kruse

Joseph Kneidinger Sustainable Professional of the Year Award Criteria

The Joseph Kneidinger Sustainable Professional of the Year Award is presented to the professional that best fulfills or symbolizes the commitment to environmental sustainability. The nominated professional will be an IAPMO member.

Nominations should be presented to the IAPMO Board of Directors through the Green Technical Committee or Board. 

The Board will select the recipient of the Joseph Kneidinger Sustainable Professional of the Year Award at the Spring Board of Directors meeting each year, to be presented at the IAPMO Annual Education and Business Conference.  The recipient of the award will be notified in advance to ensure the professional is present at the IAPMO Conference to receive the award.

Recipients of the award will be featured in the IAPMO media including Official, Green Newsletter and I-Connection.

2019 Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year

Mary Ann Dickinson - Alliance for Water Efficiency

Mary Ann Dickinson has dedicated her career, more than four decades worth, to the conservation of our most vital natural resource: water. Through advocacy, research, legislation, code development, publishing and even film production, Dickinson has provided one of the strongest and most respected voices in North America on the efficient and sustainable use of water.

As president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, Dickinson leads the non-profit’s work with more than 500 water utilities, water conservation professionals, planners, regulators and consumers seeking ways to limit water usage in both traditional and innovative ways. Driven by a belief that using water efficiently saves money, preserves the environment and helps communities thrive, the Alliance focuses on seven key tasks:

  • Stand as a clear and authoritative voice for water efficiency
  • Provide comprehensive information about which programs and products work and which don’t
  • Represent the interest of water efficiency in the development of codes and standards
  • Transform the market for fixtures and appliances
  • Coordinate with green building initiatives to institutionalize water efficiency
  • Train water conservation professionals
  • And educate water users

In 2014, the Alliance won the U.S. Water Prize in the non-profit category for this work.

Dickinson and the Alliance have partnered with IAPMO to produce the Emerging Water Technology Symposium every other year since the inaugural event in 2008.

She also served as the executive director of the California Water Efficiency Partnership based

in Sacramento, California, which continues the historical work of the California Urban

Water Conservation Council, a non-profit that managed the United States’ first set of best management practices.

During her four decades at the forefront of water efficiency, Dickinson has worked at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority, and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. A graduate of the University of Connecticut with a degree in environmental planning, Dickinson has authored numerous publications on water conservation, land use planning, and natural resources management, and has co-produced two films, which have aired on public television and community cable stations.

Not everyone described as an authority or subject matter expert truly qualifies for the distinction. When you’re talking about water efficiency, however, there is no doubt Dickinson fits the bill.

For committing her life’s work to as noble and vital a cause as any on our planet, IAPMO is pleased to honor Mary Ann Dickinson with the 2019 Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year Award.

“I really want to thank IAPMO for this honor, it’s such a pleasure to work with this organization,” Dickinson said. “The first person I saw when I came in this morning was Bill Erickson and we had a nice chat about what it’s like to be old these days, have experience and wonder if it’s relevant. I think what I’ve learned over my four decades is that the enthusiasm of my youth, my 20s and 30s, I was going to slay dragons; I was going to change the world. And as I got older, more seasoned and more experienced, I realized it has to be done with a practical eye toward what is really possible, what is really implementable; what isn’t going to sacrifice public health; what is going to be done in a consensus basis rather than adversarial.

“IAPMO has been a partner with the Alliance for Water Efficiency throughout this process.

Pete DeMarco is our Board chair, we are very proud of that. And we are very proud of the

long association we have had with your organization, so thank you for this honor.”

2018 Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year

Amir T
abakh - Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

Amir Tabakh is well known to most of us here today. As one of the most proudly vocal supporters of IAPMO’s work, in the biggest metropolitan area in the nation governed by the Uniform Codes, his influence carries a lot of weight not only in the City of Angels, but all over the world. But it is Tabakh’s passion to promote sustainability and a nexus between water, energy, and CO2 emissions that truly sets him apart.

A graduate of San Diego State University holding a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Tabakh was hired by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety in 1985, where he managed construction activities for high- and low-rise structures where they concerned HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, and elevators. Starting in 1999, he added the additional responsibility of serving as director of LADBS’ Mechanical Testing Laboratories.

During this time, Tabakh served as Chair of the Plumbing Technical Advisory Committee and led the code adoptions for the city of Los Angeles, also working with the California Seismic Commission and SoCal Gas on safety issues related to buildings and seismic gas shutoff valves.

Simultaneously, Tabakh began serving on numerous IAPMO committees, including the UPC Technical Committee, the Product Certification and Standards Review Committee, and the Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement Committee, currently the WE-Stand Committee.

Ten years ago, Tabakh joined the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as the Director of Environmental Engineering, immediately implementing the most aggressive water efficient plumbing fixtures ordinance in the United States. In support of the new regulations, he led the retrofitting of more than 600 LADWP owned buildings through a partnership between the department and United Association plumbers. These changes will result in water savings amounting to two billion dollars over 20 years.

In 2012, Tabakh was promoted to Chief of Energy Efficiency Engineering and two years ago promoted again to be manager of LADWP’s La Kretz Labs and Energy Efficiency Solutions Engineering.

An ecosystem created for companies in the clean technology space, the La Kretz Innovation Campus engages entrepreneurs, inventors, business leaders, and students to work together in one environment. The campus features LADWP laboratories for both customer engagement and energy efficiency and technology.

La Kretz staff worked in collaboration with IAPMO to establish the Water Conservation Demonstration Lab, where manufacturers, customers, utilities, developers, conservation organizations, universities and government entities can perform technology assessments, demonstrations, outreach and educational activities. Here the industry, IAPMO, and LADWP work together to develop the next generation of high efficiency innovations. Tabakh is the man who made that happen.

For making water conservation the central focus of what has been and continues to be a powerfully inspirational career in our trade, IAPMO is pleased to present Amir Tabakh with the 2018 Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year Award.

“About 10 years ago, I shifted from Building and Safety to Water and Power; not because I don’t care about public health and safety, but because I feel our country is in trouble,” Tabakh said. “We need to save water and energy, and understand the nexus between them.

“I helped develop the Green Plumbing and Mechanical Supplement, now WE-Stand, and that is the document I used, I cut and pasted, for Los Angeles. Our partnership is going to continue under the leadership of Russ Chaney and IAPMO. It is an honor to receive this award and God bless you all.”

2017 Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year
Arnie Rodio - Pace Setter Plumbing

Arnie Rodio says he has lived his entire life — including his 37-year career as a licensed contractor — by one guiding principle: Leave the place better than you find it.

It’s a motto that influences his works and deeds, such as serving as a Scout Leader for decades or his contributions to programs like PHCC’s Copper for Kids, but also very much strikes a tangible chord in how he runs his business, Pace Setter Plumbing.

While new efficiency promoting technologies are a big part of any green business, Rodio says running an environmentally conscious organization is about more than just gadgets.

“Most of it has to do with attitude. There’s more to this industry than making a buck,” he says. Rodio says he’s discovered that if you’re socially conscious, and present green alternatives to customers with honesty and sincerity, the money takes care of itself.

For Pace Setter Plumbing, green isn’t treated as one way to do a job — it’s the best way to do it. Working with Southern California Homeowners Associations in the midst of a historic drought, Rodio demonstrates how something as simple as sub-metering multiunit structures not only saves water, because the water line is now split rather than serving the whole building all at once, but users now consciously restrict their water use as a result of knowing what they are using. Water use drops 30 percent, but the customers’ bills decrease by 40-45 percent because their pricing tier also adjusts downward.

“You don’t make money on it, but if you do it right you don’t lose money — and it doesn’t wind up in the landfills,” he says.

In his various roles over the years with IAPMO and our industry peers, Rodio has been instrumental in bringing the Green Plumbers program from Australia to the United States, the addition of photovoltaic systems to the Uniform Solar Energy and Hydronics Code, and the afore mentioned Copper for Kids program, which takes the proceeds from recycled copper to fund the counseling and fees necessary to transition children from foster care into permanent homes.

Arnie Rodio is a familiar face to many of us who have served with him on numerous code committees over his decades of service to IAPMO. He was the recipient of our 2008 American Flag Award and is every bit as worthy of this honor as he was then. For helping to leave IAPMO, our industry, and our planet better than he found them, IAPMO recognizes Arnie Rodio as the 2017 Green Professional of the Year.

“One person I’d really like to thank is my wife, Lynell,” he said. “She’s stood beside me all this time; it’s got to be tough standing by someone who every time you go somewhere he’s looking at the plumbing. So, I’d like to say a special thanks and I love you.

“You know, I’m in IAPMO because I’m kind of selfish — because I get a lot more out of it than I ever put into it. So many friends, so many people sharing their knowledge and helping, it’s been a joy working with you all. And you’re going to be stuck with me for a long time. Thank you.”

2016 Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year
Bill Hoffman - H.W. Hoffman & Associates

Bill Hoffman is as powerful a voice as there is in our industry when it comes to water scarcity, our desperate need to conserve, and presenting viable, progressive solutions to the problem. A native Texan, Hoffman has dedicated his career, nearly 50 years, to the water industry, and his expertise is invaluable to the numerous utilities, governments, businesses, and organizations to which he offers it.

As Assistant Director for Water Resource Planning for the Texas Water Development Board, Hoffman implemented that agency’s urban and industrial water conservation programs and supervised water reuse, desalinization, and alternate sources programs. At various times, he was also in charge of developing future water use projections for the commercial and industrial sectors based on changes in water efficiency, and examining the implications of conservation on future water use trends.

He also worked for seven years at the city of Austin Water Utility, where he as supervisor of institutional, commercial, and industrial water conservation programs, again charged with predicting the impact conservation and changing water use technologies would have on future water use.

Now a consultant as president of H.W. Hoffman & Associates, Hoffman works with everything from local utilities to state governments to assist their development of effective industrial water conservation programs.

He serves on numerous national water efficiency standards and codes committees, including IAPMO’s Water Efficiency and Sanitation Standard, also known as WE•Stand, technical committee, and was an original member of the Green Technical Committee that preceded it. He has authored numerous articles, white papers, and books on water efficiency and was on the team to develop a Best Management Practices Guide for the U.S. EPA’s WaterSense program. And he was a featured speaker at each of the International Emerging Technology Symposiums.

To honor and recognize his immeasurable contribution to one of the most important and pressing issues of our time, water conservation, it is our pleasure to present Bill Hoffman with IAPMO’s 2016 Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year Award.

“I do take this honor with great dignity. I appreciate it so much,” Hoffman said. “And just one comment to the younger people here; this is my 50th year in engineering and I never dreamed 50 years ago I might be standing here. You will be doing things that you never thought you’d do, but never quit. Thank you so much.”

2015 Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year
John Koeller - Koeller & Company

It’s difficult to choose where to begin when acknowledging the long list of credentials and accomplishments that qualify John Koeller as the recipient of the 2015 IAPMO Green Professional of the Year Award.

A registered professional engineer, Koeller, as principal of Koeller & Company, is water authorities and private sector firms and is a technical advisor to the International Alliance for Water Efficiency. He is the co-developer of Maximum Performance testing for water-efficient products, an initiative designed to raise the bar on product performance and long term reliability.

A member of six different ANSI U.S. national plumbing standards committees, where he represents the water utilities’ efficiency interests, Koeller is the past vice-chair of the LEED Water Efficiency Technical Advisory Group for the U.S. Green Building Council. Since 2006, he has been an advisor consultant to the U.S. EPA’s WaterSense® program, for which he evaluates and recommends the latest product designs and technologies for future labeling by the program.

Koeller has worked integrally with various IAPMO business units for decades, including the IAPMO Standards and Code Development departments, IAPMO R&T Lab, and in the development of codes and standards provisions and test requirements specific to water efficient products.

His work is truly as far reaching in the world of green plumbing as any individual can likely claim, making John Koeller a most deserving recipient of IAPMO’s 2015 Green Professional of the Year.

“I’d just like to say a special thank you to IAPMO,” Koeller said, “because it’s IAPMO that in the year 2000, through IAPMO R&T, that the WaterSense® process began. Through cooperation with IAPMO R&T Lab, we began to develop specifications for the city of Los Angeles that ultimately ended up being the foundation stone for the U.S. EPA’s program. So, thank you to IAPMO, IAPMO R&T, and all of you.”

2014 Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year
Gary Klein - Gary Klein & Associates

It’s not uncommon to refer to someone as being full of hot air. The recipient of this year’s Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year Award, however, is full of hot water.

For more than two decades, Gary Klein, president of Gary Klein & Associates, has been perhaps the most recognized name in the industry when it comes to the efficient delivery of hot water in residential and commercial buildings.

After graduating from Cornell in 1975 with a Bachelor’s degree in Technology and Society concentrating on Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Environmentally Appropriate Technologies — an independent major for which he actually developed the criteria himself — Klein went to Lesotho in Africa for a six-month research project that wound up lasting seven years, working in rural villages on self-sustaining structures to improve household energy use.

A highlight of his work in Africa was the 1982 building of what would today meet the standards of a modern green home. It featured off-the-grid solar electric power, no mechanical heating or air conditioning, rainwater catchment, graywater separation,  local building materials — things that today are still perceived as difficult or inconvenient.

After returning to the United States, Klein relocated to California in 1989 and at one time held three different jobs with the state’s energy commission, one of which got him into the hot water arena.

In the early 1990s, he received a call from a colleague asking him how long does it take to get hot water from his home’s water heater to the fixtures. He didn’t think much of the request at the time, but the friend persisted for months so Klein eventually did the test just to get him to stop asking.

He measured 4 gallons in four minutes waiting for hot water to arrive at his showerhead. The math didn’t seem to add up for him.  He started calling friends and asking them to do the same test. He discovered that it was getting worse, not better, as the houses became newer. In 1996, Klein nominated himself to tackle this issue.

The following year he held his first water forum, addressing 25 industry colleagues as they discussed hot water as a system. Klein estimates that to date he has spoken to more than 30,000 people about hot water since.

In the mid-2000s, Klein realized the best way to implement his hot water delivery solution was through minimum codes. He submitted numerous proposals toward the 2009

Uniform Plumbing Code and, to use his own words, “took his lumps.” But IAPMO’s Dave Viola was intrigued by Klein’s ideas and invited him to be an inaugural member of the Green Technical Committee as it worked toward the development of the IAPMO Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement.

His fingerprints may now be seen all over the hot water provisions of that code and his reputation has afforded him opportunities to influence efficiency policy nationwide, either as a public speaker, which he does frequently, or by working with such organizations as ASHRAE, LEED and the National Green Building Standard.

A little more than 10 years ago, Klein published his hot water theories in a series of articles in IAPMO’s Official magazine. This was before practically any research on the topic of hot water as a system had been completed. A decade later, independent research has thoroughly backed up his theories and they are being implemented with steadily increasing frequency.

For his foresight and stalwart leadership in the vitally important nexus between water and energy, IAPMO is proud to present Gary Klein with the 2014 Joseph Kneidinger Green Professional of the Year Award.

“It’s truly and honor to receive this award,” Klein said. “I was very surprised when I was told I was going to receive it.

“I am not a long-term member of this industry. I first met IAPMO in 2006 in preparation for the 2009 codes. I was clearly an outsider, and as was just mentioned I submitted several proposals, not one of which had a prayer. I’ve been trying to work to improve hot water distribution systems for 20 years now. They work; hot water eventually shows up, just not very efficiently. My goal for many years has been to make it an efficient delivery system so that, in fact, when you turn on the tap hot water arrives pretty darn quick; my goal is waiting no more than one cup. We can build them, within the code — safe, healthy, working, efficient systems.

So, I want to thank IAPMO for giving me this award, for the recognition of my peers. I look forward to working with you all for many years to come."

2013 Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year
Bill Erickson - C.J. Erickson Plumbing Co.

Anybody wondering just how constructive the work of IAPMO’s Green Technical Committee has been in promoting sustainable practices among plumbing contractors should look no further than the recipient of this year’s Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year Award.

The fact Bill Erickson has actually been a rather pivotal member of the committee since its inception only further demonstrates this success.

Created in 2007 by the IAPMO Board of Directors for the purposes of making the Uniform Codes more sustainable and creating a supplemental document as a clearinghouse for all ongoing and future areas of sustainable opportunity, the Green Technical Committee has far exceeded expectations. To date, it has developed two editions of the IAPMO Green Plumbing and Mechanical Supplement, which has also been recreated for India, and succeeded in adding a great deal of language to the Uniform Plumbing and Mechanical codes themselves.

A licensed plumber for more than 40 years and CEO of his family’s plumbing company, Erickson was selected to lead this impressive, but potentially volatile group of individuals toward a mutual goal. At the time he was an enthusiastic, yet passive supporter of sustainable practices. He believed in the work, but wasn’t necessarily leading by example.

During his five years as chairman of the committee, however, Erickson’s eyes were opened to a world of both possibility and necessity. His days as a passive observer screeched to a quick halt.

As the inaugural chairman, Erickson presided over a collection of strongly differing personalities, points of view and agendas. Fostering a delicate balance between traditionally at odds groups — contractors and labor, environmental folk and manufacturers — requires both gravitas and levity. Erickson skillfully brought both. He guided them to consensus without dragging them there, mixing professionalism and diplomacy with a self-deprecating style that kept egos in check.

When all was said and done, Erickson couldn’t help but be profoundly moved by the importance of the committee’s work. He is now an outspoken advocate for sustainable practices within our industry and has an insatiable thirst for all things related to the conservation of water.

IAPMO thanks this man for his enthusiastic leadership and dedication to sustainable plumbing and mechanical practices by honoring Bill Erickson with the 2013 Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year Award.

“I’m honored to be honored and I humbly accept it,” Erickson said. “I’d like to think that this experiment that IAPMO did a number of years ago of bringing contractors into the board of directors was successful.

“I learned something from being a businessman that has done very well for me, I learned that I never had to be the smartest man in the room. On the Green Technical Committee, the room was full of smart people, and I think my biggest trick was to give them permission to cooperate with each other. It was a labor of love and I just enjoyed the heck out of it. I’m just going to keep coming back; this is family to me and you have a great family here at IAPMO.

“Going forward, there’s so much work that has to be done. With the MCAA contractors and the PHCC contractors, along with our labor partners, I think we will be well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities in the future to provide safe water and sanitation for our grandchildren. That’s what I hope to be a part of going forward. Thank you very much.”

2012 Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year
Kevin Tindall - Tindall & Ranson Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning

Kevin Tindall encountered a unique challenge when he began marketing his plumbing company’s green services to homeowners in his native New Jersey. When he told them how much it would cost to upgrade their plumbing and mechanical systems to new high-efficiency, money-saving alternatives, Kevin discovered a new kind of sticker shock.

It seems “free” isn’t a word most people are accustomed to hearing from their plumbing contractor. But by taking advantage of government grants and interest-free loans, that’s exactly the price Kevin can offer.

Tindall & Ranson Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is at the forefront of a growing nationwide movement seeking to introduce home and commercial building owners to myriad rebates and loans available to them should they choose to embrace green technologies in their plumbing and mechanical systems. As interest and acceptance of the more efficient systems grows, so too does the amount of work available to companies like Kevin’s — despite the sluggish economy.

“You can’t afford not to embrace this stuff,” Kevin said of green technology. “The only problem is when you tell the customers they’re essentially getting the new system for free, they don’t believe you.”

By informing potential clients about the benefits available to them through the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, Kevin can deliver on his promise. Residents can receive four to five thousand dollars in grants and rebates and could also be eligible for as much as ten thousand dollars in interest free loans.

With new construction projects few and far between, Kevin was looking for a way to separate himself from the competition. His company began doing energy audits, demonstrating how installing a solar thermal or geothermal system could save customers up to 20 percent on their energy bills. These retrofits have been the lifeblood of his thriving business for the past three years.

A 20-year member and former New Jersey State President of the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association, Kevin is chairman of the PHCC’s Green Task Force and has testified before congress in Washington, D.C., on behalf of small business about “The Role of Green Technology and Ensuring Economic Growth.”

A member of IAPMO’s C.A.U.S.E. committee, Kevin is a regular attendee and contributor at Green Technical Committee meetings. The committee certainly appreciates his invaluable expertise as we work to continue evolving the Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement.

For plainly demonstrating both the altruistic and financial benefits of embracing green technologies, it is IAPMO’S pleasure to recognize Kevin Tindall as the recipient of the 2012 Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year award.

“Five years ago, when PHCC started to get involved in the sustainable construction movement the president asked me to chair what was at that time the Green Task Force,” he said. “I never had any way to know or any idea where it would lead. The green technology, the sustainable movement, has created for me as business model that I believe will last far into the future.

“I truly believe as a contractor that as time moves on more and more people will understand the value of moving toward a sustainable environment.”

2011 Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year
Chuck Fell - CFI Mechanical of Houston

Most reading this probably remember “MacGyver,” the late 1980s television series about a secret agent who eschewed guns in favor of resourcefulness, calm and whatever knick knacks he could dig out of his pockets? If a problem needed solving, MacGyver would quickly survey the items at his disposal and rig up a solution to save the day.

The recipient of the 2011 Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year Award, Chuck Fell, has more than a little of that MacGyver know how in him.

As chairman of the Plumbing Contractors of America and member of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America board of directors, Chuck has fought tirelessly to promote green education and research in the field of plumbing and mechanical design and construction. And his company, CFI Mechanical of Houston, embraces innovative concepts, such as prefabrication, and technologies that benefit the environment as well as address the practical consideration of a building’s life cycle costs.

That’s where his MacGyver-like instincts are best served. Take for instance the Hines project known as 717 Texas, a 33-story office tower in Houston’s downtown theater district. Originally constructed in 2003, the building’s owners sought a LEED Platinum rating, but came up three points short during the initial inspection. Grass and shrub landscaping on the property was being watered using the city of Houston’s public water supply. Chuck’s team at CFI was called upon to find a better, more cost effective and sustainable way to go about it. CFI suggested the building’s owners collect the condensate from the building’s air handling units into a holding tank with a pumping station, then disconnect the irrigation system from the city’s public water supply and instead connect it to the condensate holding tank.

This clever solution earned the project four LEED points this year, enough to achieve the platinum level rating the owners desired. CFI has subsequently recommended this condensate recovery system to customers who want a proven green solution without requiring a large initial investment.

For his spirit of innovation, commitment to environmentally friendly building practices and promotion of products and systems that help our industry contribute positively to the sustainability movement, IAPMO is thrilled to award Chuck Fell with the 2011 Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year Award.

“I would like to thank the IAPMO Board of Directors, the C.A.U.S.E. committee and the Green Technical Committee,” Fell said. “I’m so honored, very grateful and pleased to receive this award.

“Education of green, sustainable causes is a priority of CFI Mechanical, IAPMO, MCAA, our schools and universities and my family. It should be for your families, too. Thank you very much for this award, I’m very grateful.”

2010 Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year
Joseph Kneidinger - June 11,1948 – Sept. 11, 2009 (Posthumous)

IAPMO’s “Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year Award” is given to the IAPMO member who as a contractor best fulfills or symbolizes a commitment to environmental sustainability through their work in the plumbing and mechanical industries. Just before last year’s conference, we learned of Joseph’s untimely passing. This year, IAPMO renamed this award in order to recognize his lifelong pursuit of sustainability. What sort of a man inspired such action?

Joseph was a man of principle and deeply held values. Long before “green” was chic or prevalent, Joseph espoused it as his guiding philosophy in life and the plumbing business he began 30 years ago in California. Drought, water and energy crises in the 1970s prompted many to consider recycling and conservation for the first time. Joseph was a pioneer and spokesman, having enacted these practices himself long before others.

Unlike today, codes of that era rarely contained conservation, water re-use or rainwater harvesting provisions. Joseph met with local officials seeking approval to amend code or allow alternate methods to permit green installations. Standing out as one willing to teach others new methods, he never lost sight of the plumber’s creed, “… protect the health of the nation ...” and successfully harmonized them. His advocacy made him a sustainability ambassador before a green movement truly existed, demonstrating that “green” and safe were reconcilable goals.

Joseph shared green values with staff, clients and building officials, doing so passionately with a gentle sincerity that was quite disarming. He believed education and knowledge were essential to furthering these ideals. Leading by example, in a truly green coup Joseph consolidated his home and business into one location, eliminating the legendary California commute. He instituted sorting and recycling efforts in shop and office long before these were standard industry practice.

Projects Joseph pursued incorporated green values. Retrofitting fire sprinklers in the 200-year-old Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz required complex pipe layout and working in concert with Italian artisans to preserve elaborate ceiling murals. Today, 20 years later, it still serves its parish after a historic remodel and stands as a monument to Joseph’s green philosophy. A colleague fondly recalls, “Joseph was the kind of guy who risked personal welfare and sacrificed for the sake of something he believed in … his natural inclination was to go green … he was a people-conscious person who believed right was right, especially when it came to conservation or green matters.”

Joseph became an inspector, working at the City of Portland in a special program where he functioned as a contractor. Here his timehonored green values flourished. Responsible for a large clientele, he managed consultation, plan review, permit issuance and field inspections. He teleworked from home, eliminating a commute, saving office space and energy, and significantly reducing mileage. Appropriately, Joseph was the first inspector issued a green, hybrid vehicle.

Joseph joined green teams, advocated for resource conservation and was appointed to the city’s Green Technical Advisory Group tasked with proposing a green code that would exceed Oregon’s ambitious state conservation code by at least 20 percent. He attended IAPMO Green Technical Committee meetings on his own time, at his own expense.

Joseph’s professional and personal lifestyle exemplifies one who passionately and authentically advanced the green cause. He was never content with “greenwashing,” but rather called for sincere, meaningful and practical everyday environmentalism. For these reasons and many more, the 2010 recipient of the “Joseph Kneidinger Green Contractor of the Year Award” is Joseph himself.

Joseph’s widow, Kate, traveled to Seattle for the conference, but was overcome by emotion and unable to accept the award on her husband’s behalf. The award’s presenter, IAPMO Board member Jed Scheuermann, accepted the award for both of them.

2009 Green Contractor of the Year
David Kruse - L.J. Kruse Company

When it came time to nominate the inaugural winner of the Green Contractor of the Year Award, one name was repeatedly thrown into the ring: David Kruse, president of L.J. Kruse Company in Berkeley, California.

When David and his brother Andy took over the 93-year-old plumbing company their grandfather founded in 1916, it was a reputable outfit doing strong, professional work. David, however, recognized a niche that needed filling and transformed L.J. Kruse into a 21st century leader in design and construction utilizing high efficiency, water-saving and alternative energy products. Its slogan, “Where sustainability meets profitability” is something any businessman can appreciate.

And it’s not just isolated to his company alone; David is working to pull the entire industry over to the greener side. In 2007, as president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, David organized a Green Opportunities Conference in Milwaukee, showcasing many products and techniques that previously lacked wide-scale exposure. A shift in thinking has certainly occurred and David Kruse is right at the center of it.

David is LEED accredited and his headquarters in Berkeley are pursuing LEED Platinum designation from the U.S. Green Building Council. Only a few years ago products like high efficiency, low consumption air and water systems, tankless water heaters, hybrid heat/dual fuel systems and reclaimed water systems were something only the wealthy, so-called “tree huggers” would employ in their homes and businesses. But David Kruse is showing people how these innovations can be both beneficial to the environment and affordable at the same time.

“I’m deeply grateful, thankful and, frankly, humbled to accept this award on behalf of my company,” Kruse said. “Understanding what IAPMO is and what you men and women do every day in your careers, with your volunteer time to make our industry better, is a very profound thing and I’m delighted to be a part of it.

“I really want to accept this award for my grandchildren. We all know that we’re not doing any of this for ourselves; none of us up here or out there in this audience is doing it for ourselves. We’re doing it for our kids and grandkids.