Henry Gifford – Fighting Terrorism with a Caulking Gun

Tell me how you got started.

When I was 20 years old, I bought some apartment houses in New York City. But they were expensive, so I was trying to figure out ways to lower the costs. I couldn’t do anything about the mortgage or the taxes and I couldn’t raise the rent. So I got curious about how to lower the energy bills. I got on my bike and rode over to Barnes & Noble and looked for books on making buildings energy efficient, but couldn’t find anything. So I called the energy company and they sent some guy to come in and take a look at my building. He spent about 30 seconds in the boiler room, looked at the flame and said “That’s efficient.” But that wasn’t satisfactory for me. So I started doing more work on energy than on real estate. I started my company, Energy Saving Science, in 1982, going around to apartment buildings to fix up heating systems and make them more reliable and energy efficient.

What interests you most about what you’re doing now?

Making a difference. Changing the way people see buildings. Changing the way people see what’s possible. Always pushing the envelope for better and more efficient buildings.

My architect partner and I design probably the most energy efficient apartments in the country and we do it for zero extra construction cost. We’re taking a stand for all buildings being built really well.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment?

Designing a cooling system for a hotel that uses the waste heat in order to cool the building. In the summer, the building gets hot and instead of dumping out the extra heat, the building captures the extra heat and uses it to heat the hot water, so no extra energy  is used to take a hot shower.  It also saves on electricity because the shower water cools the refrigerant for the air conditioning better than the outside air does.

Biggest challenge?

Getting people to change their habits. People don’t want to change the way things are done. Everyone wants the image of green, but no one wants to deal with the blue collar reality of how to save energy. People are more interested in staying in their offices than going into the boiler room.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by seeing a small utility bill.

Why is peace sexy to you?  What does”Peace is Sexy” evoke for you?

It avoids untold suffering. It avoids the excesses of government. Fewer and fewer people have productive work. Every time there is a war, there is incalculable suffering, but after the war there is reduced quality of life for everyone involved.

“Peace is Sexy” is a hope for a better future, hope for a space where people can love each other, be happy instead of fearful, have a space for a better life.

What is a simple thing you do to create peace? What is something you do everyday?

I make buildings energy efficient, so the U.S. depends less on foreign oil and doesn’t need to go to war to secure its energy reserves. I fight terrorism with a caulking gun.

Where would you like to see your passion go in the next 10 years? 20 years? 100 years?

I’d like to see it go away because it’s too hard to live with unfulfilled passions.

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

You can check out my website at:


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