year, the Santa Barbara Contractors Association chose Dennis Allen
to honor as its Builder of the year. "That was such a nice
honor," said Allen from his home/office. "To get a standing
ovation from your peers." It's particularly nice because, for
Allen, who also won awards for best remodels and best Green Building,
it means acknowledgement for something he's been trying to promote
most of his life: sustainable building. "It seems like that
old cliché: it's not easy to turn around the Titanic. But
we're doing it. We're trying to change the whole industry."
for change is nothing new to the very successful contractor who
began life in the groves of academe. Born in Arcadia, California,
Allen attended UCSB in the palmy early days when ROTC was a mandatory
class. "We had to go out there and march, and carry those weapons.
And one day, I decided I just hated it."
finished his academic career and returned to UCSB in the late
becoming the Assistant Dean of Students right during the worst
of it. "There were the riots, and they burned the bank twice,"
recalled Allen, who decided then and there to leave the university
and get involved in the peace movement in San Francisco, fighting
to end the Indo-China war and the draft.
from there to contracting? "I know it sounds odd," said
Allen, "but it was a pretty straight road from one to the other."
When he was working as part of the peace movement, Allen attended
a conference on a newfangled idea called solar power. Later, returning
to Santa Barbara to live, Allen explained his new obsession to a
friend who then convinced Allen to build a solar home. "I not
only learned how to do solar power building, I learned to build.
And that has been my passion for all my life."
it was an arcane interest in 1974, when Allen first started
solar both active and passive; it soon became more in demand. "The
oil embargo made everybody interested. Among many other impressive
projects, Allen built Paul Relis' family house up near Mission
Canyon and the Gildea Resource Center Foundation.
and his company won four other awards at last week's banquet:
remodel under $250,000, best remodel over $250,000, best landscape
and hardscape, and the Green Building Award. All of them make
happy, but he seems most pleased to see the group turn its attention
to environmentally sound building. "I can remember back
then the Association had 30 members and it was basically an
club. Today, there are 300 members, and all that time I've been
holding up this kind of building as a worthy goal for our industry.
It's starting to come around.
PAGE 'ALLEN ASSOCIATES A GREEN BUILDER')