Home builders and contractors have a huge opportunity to tap a growing and potentially profitable market for green and energy efficient materials and products, according to a new survey by Icynene Inc. and the NAHB Research Center. They just need to take a more proactive approach to marketing green products consumers want most.
The survey of consumers expecting to buy a newly built home or to spend more than $10,000 on renovations in the coming year found nearly half are eager to incorporate green products into their homes, especially if they save them money. Even consumers who don't plan on investing in green or energy-efficient products say its mainly due to not being aware of their options.
A key finding of the survey is that respondents do not consider the cost or efficacy of green building products an obstacle to their use. Only 14 percent of respondents believe green or energy efficient options cost too much and no respondents expressed concerns that green building materials are less effective than conventional materials.
The survey found builders and contractors can play an influential role in promoting greener, more energy efficient building and can score points with potential clients by proactively discussing green and energy efficient products.
"Builders shouldn't wait for consumers to coax them into exploring green options, since many consumers are not in a position to appreciate their potential benefits," says Craig Conner, building consultant and member of the Energy & Environmental Building Association. "Builders should first become familiar with a technology so they can explain it to a customer. By taking the lead they will enhance both the building process and their customer relationships."
The survey dispels myths that consumers will not pay for green and energy efficient materials and products. Builders and contractors just need to sell their benefits in terms of ongoing cost-savings, protection of client investment and enhancement of home resale value.
Builders and contractors can profit in knowing that those in the market for newly-built homes or renovations are equating cost savings with specific green and energy efficient materials and products. 85 percent of new homebuyers or those making renovations are considering energy efficient windows and doors, 73 percent are considering high performance insulation and 72 percent are considering Energy Star-rated products.
The survey suggests builders can also successfully market greener, more energy efficient materials and products by communicating their benefits for the overall health of a home. Nearly half of respondents say it would very likely influence their choice of a builder or contractor if they offered materials that resist mold or help minimize the potential for mold growth; 41 percent say it would very likely influence their choice of a builder or contractor if they offered materials that filter or clean air to improve indoor air quality.
"Builders can keep pace with consumer demand by building homes that meet all occupant needs, including good health, safety, durability, comfort and affordability," says Neil Moyer, Principal Research Engineer, Florida Solar Energy Center. "The most likely implications of not building this way include higher operating costs for homeowners, increased callback and liability costs to builders and more houses winding up in landfill."
The survey findings reveal that those investing in newly-built homes or renovations are receptive to greener, energy efficient messages. They also suggest at least three potentially profitable strategies builders and contractors can use to market green and energy efficient products and materials most effectively:
1. Don't wait for clients to ask about green options. The survey found those in the market for new homes or renovations are willing to pay more for green, energy efficient building materials and expect to hear about them from their builder or contractor. No where is this more clear than in attitudes towards insulation options:
2. Demonstrate the savings.
3. Help homebuyers see a link between green features and cost benefits.
The survey of 529 consumers in the U.S. and Canada was conducted in July 2004 by the NAHB Research Center on behalf of Icynene Inc, maker of The Icynene Insulation System. Respondents included those who intend to purchase a newly built home worth more than $400,000, those who have incomes of more than $75,000 and who intend to purchase a newly-built home worth less than $400,000 and those who plan on spending more than $10,000 on renovations in the coming year. The margin of error is approximately plus or minus four percent. Created 40 years ago as a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the NAHB Research Center has established itself as the source for reliable, objective information and research on housing construction and development issues.
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