First, what is your knowledge and experience with green building right now? Before any change of business focus, it is essential to get the facts and educate yourself about green building practices, new technologies and programs. In addition to magazines and books, a good place to start is NAHB's green building Web site, www.NAHBgreen.org .
Next, find out if there are any local green building initiatives in your community. Often, there is a green building committee or council within your local HBA. Attend meetings and join if it is an appropriate group for you. Then attend an NAHB two-day Green Building for Building Professionals course to get started on achieving the Certified Green Building Professional designation the NAHB University of Housing offers. You'll probably be surprised at how many green practices are already embedded into your construction business.
The next step is to determine your market's awareness and acceptance of green building practices. Some markets will accept and might be willing to pay for green features sooner than others. Being the pioneer has its benefits, but remember, many pioneers were killed on their way out West! Now is also the time to evaluate your trades and suppliers. Are they up to speed on green building practices? If not, are they willing to learn and work with you as you incorporate green practices into your business?
You'll also need to assess your employees as to whether they would willingly and enthusiastically embrace green building.
For most custom builders, incorporating green practices will be an evolutionary rather than revolutionary process. The value of a slower approach is that it gives you time to try and test various processes and products for effectiveness and consumer acceptance. It's an opportunity for you, your employees and your trades and suppliers to get comfortable with green building and work out the kinks.
The final piece of the puzzle is to figure out how you are going to get in front of those prospects who find value in a high-performance, more environmentally sensitive home. Of course, your brochures, Web sites and signage will all need to reflect your ability and willingness to build green. But in most cases, you'll need more effort on the marketing front. Hosting educational seminars for home buyers, real-estate agents and others in the community will help raise awareness. Becoming the local green building expert for municipal officials and the media will heighten your company's profile as well.
Whether your company decides to go “all in” for green building or takes the slower approach, remember that if you are going to talk the talk, you must be ready to walk the walk. Like it or not, green building practices are here to stay and most likely will be absorbed into the building codes of the future. While many resist change, this move toward green is good for the planet, and it can be good for your business as well.
|Nationally recognized speaker and trainer Tom Stephani , MIRM, GMB, MCSP and CAPS, specializes in custom homes, infill housing, light commercial projects and developing commercial and residential land. E-mail Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org |