For Mick Dalrymple, home renovation is all about taking baby steps. “You start with one thing and you realize it wasn’t that hard, and you kind of like the results and so you decide to do another thing and another thing,” he says.
It’s been about 18 months since he began renovating his midcentury ranchstyle home north of Camelback Mountain — where he lives with his wife, Alison, and daughter, Katie — one project at a time, saving up for each new task.
Dalrymple’s version of home renovation doesn’t include many trips to do-ityourself superstores, however, because with each project he completes he aims to make his home more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
That means finding materials that come from renewable resources, that don’t emit harmful gases into the air and that use as little energy as possible.
It also means seeing the potential in things that were bound for the dump. The floor in his office, for example, is a salvaged basketball court that was going to be pitched by a community center.
He stripped it (using nontoxic means, of course) and turned it into something to rival any new hardwood version. The countertop in the kitchen is covered in travertine tile left over from the remodeling of a neighbor’s house.
Dalrymple’s ultimate goal is to make his home a zero net energy house, which means that over the course of a year the home will generate as much, or more, energy than it uses.
He’s added a solar-powered water heater to the home, replaced the appliances with Energy Star ones, and replaced old windows with fiberglass ones.
He’s been documenting the project for a television show, “Build It Green,” which aired on Channel 11 in Scottsdale, and which PBS has approached him about airing nationally.
“It’s been fun,” he says. “We had one episode where I crawled around the house with this Kill-A-Watt meter (a product that measures how much energy is being used by electronic devices) checking all the outlets. I was under everything. It’s amazing. I walk around the house at night, still, and there are lights everywhere from all these little power things.”
Dalrymple says energy has always fascinated him, even as a child.
He studied electrical engineering and math as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona.
After college he worked as a lobbyist for student rights but then went into the film and advertising industry, working on the production end of movies such as “Turner and Hooch,” “Sleeping With the Enemy” and “Tango and Cash.”
Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, and after hearing President Bush’s latest energy proposal, Dalrymple said he became focused on changing his career.
“I wasn’t worried about doing something to make money anymore,” he says. “I wanted to do something that I believed in, that made a difference.”
In 2005, he opened a.k.a. Green in Scottsdale with Jeffrey Frost. The company sells environmentally friendly building supplies such as bamboo flooring, nontoxic paint and recycled glass tile.
Dalrymple says in the last year he has seen a steady increase in people coming to the store, asking questions and making choices to make their own homes more green.
“Most people are not going to be buying new and they’re not going to buying custom, they’re going to be buying a tract home,” he says. “So it became logical to focus on remodeling.”