Editorial: Stop Selling 'Green'

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There are sound reasons for encouraging green remodeling, regardless of politics or preserving the environment.

November 01, 2010

if you’re like me, you’re probably sick of hearing about green, sustainability, eco-conciousness or whatever term people want to use to describe environmentally friendly practices. With all the media saturation and greenwashing, it’s easy to get a little tired of it all.
So then why do we have green remodeling on the cover this month? Because despite all that hype and hoopla, most homeowners and many remodelers and builders still don’t get it.
Earlier this year, I presented at several of the Pro Expos put together by Pella in cities all across the country. Our presentation was on green remodeling and how remodelers, builders and architects could educate their clients on the intracacies of sustainability. Over and over again, I heard from contractors things like, “My clients won’t buy green” or “I don’t believe in that stuff.”
“Going green” – to use a term that’s probably a big part of the problem – isn’t a political statement. It’s just common sense. And that’s the point of our cover story this month.
I know a lot of remodelers who won’t even use the word “green” anymore because it’s all tied up in many people’s minds with Al Gore, global warming and saving the planet.
Peter Michelson of Renewal Design-Build outside of Atlanta has a great take on it. He grew up in what he described as a “Boston liberal” household, and for him it is personally important to improve our environment and reduce our use of resources.
But you know what? He doesn’t require that of his clients. He leaves his agenda at the door and addresses what they need. For most of them, that’s lower energy bills, more efficient hot water heating and a more comfortable home.
He’s not asking them if they want green. He’s finding out what they do want, and usually it is green, whether they realize it or not.
As Doug Selby of Meadowlark Builders says in the article, once he shows clients the difference these improvements can make to their monthly utility bills, “it’s a no-brainer for them.”
Although the remodelers we talked to this month are personally invested in sustainability, it’s not like you need to be a true believer to be out there selling this. As long as you care about your clients and meeting their needs, something you’ve hopefully been doing for years, this should just be second nature.  
Green isn’t just about selling bamboo floors and countertops made with 90 percent recycled materials. It’s about finding out what clients need, and meeting those needs with high-quality materials and solutions.
And that’s not being a “green” remodeler. That’s just being a good one.

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