Ask 10 remodelers what green means, and you’ll get 12 answers. But one thing everyone can agree on is that green must be mastered and marketed if a remodeler is going to stay competitive, and perhaps more importantly, not look like an imbecile when a client asks for the latest green alternatives.
We’ve all seen the news. You can’t avoid it. Green building is no longer being driven by elite building scientists or marketers of fringe products with P.O. box addresses in no-name towns and questionable warranties. We’re way beyond that now; green is here to stay.
Want some stats to back that up? Try these. Green building will be a $50 billion market in just two more years, an unprecedented upsurge from the $7.4 billion spent on green building components in 2006. What’s more, green building is past the tipping point, as consumer are now “pulling through” green at every level, from remodeled homes to new construction. As evidence that green is now mainstream, take the example of a book I recently completed called Green Remodeling. It took the publisher, Creative Homeowner Press, a full year to decide to do the book at all. They weren’t sure green was for real. But when the book was offered in its Spring 2008 catalog, Lowe’s said they’d bring it out to their 1,800 stores. Then Home Depot spotted it and committed to bringing it out to their 2,000 stores. A dramatic statement of the popularity of green. Both store chains are obviously getting requests at the “street level” for green information, and they want to rush to market with an authoritative text. The readers of that book and others flooding the market are very likely your future customers.
Upscale Buyers and Green
Who is going green? We have some fresh data from McGraw Hill surveys. Green home owners tend to be affluent and well-educated, in their mid-40s and married, and are also more likely to live in the South or the West. Women are more likely to be green building customers. But McGraw Hill found that these buyers have moved beyond going green just to save money, which means that these consumers sense something more important and worthwhile in green building. In fact, in addition to lower operating and maintenance costs, “environmental concerns” and their “family’s health” were significant motivating factors for going green, cited by 50 percent of survey respondents.
Another survey found a high degree of customer satisfaction with green homes: 85 percent of the green home buyers said they were more satisfied with their green homes than with their previous more traditionally built homes. Though this survey result is focused in new homes, it is telling of how remodeling customers will likely respond. For the remodeling market, 40 percent of homeowners who had recently completed remodeling or renovation work on their properties had used green products or materials.
Codes and Standards
There has been a remarkable surge in green product development as green has gained popularity, but we are also seeing dramatic movement among the national regulatory agencies, code bodies, building standards, and certification systems who will bring a more professional tone to green building in 2008 and beyond. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will launch its National Green Building Program at the 2008 IBS Show in Orlando. The new program will be based on the new National Green Building Standard, the result of cooperation between NAHB and the International Code Council. (The National Green Building Standard replaces NAHB’s Model Green Home Building Guidelines.) The program will standardize the rating of houses for green features through a national interactive, Web-based certification system. NAHB will also introduce its Certified Green Professional training program, so remodelers will, at last, have a chance to get certified for green. USGBC’s LEED for Homes program has also launched. Though LEED-H will not have the architects as an accelerant (which is what really helped LEED gain dominance in the commercial sector), LEED-H is one more sign of national efforts to standardize the industry.
After watching this industry mature since I started writing about it in 1988, when I first wrote about early spray foam technology and innovative new Structural Insulated Panels — now a widely accepted product — I have to confess I have never seen a building movement catch fire and gain speed so quickly. Are you ready to profit from green remodeling and the premium, higher-margin products often required to go green? All it takes is a little commitment to education, training and study, as well as the willingness to try something new. Go ahead, dive in. Your competition has probably already done so.