Few buyers understand builderspeak, the insider’s lexicon of the construction industry, but it turns out they don’t know greenspeak, either—at least not the dialect being used by builders and their supply chain partners. “There’s definitely a lack of knowledge and trust among consumers about what’s required in a green home,” says Suzanne Shelton, CEO of Shelton Group, an advertising agency in Knoxville, Tenn., specializing in green and energy-efficient products and services.
The agency’s Eco Pulse survey, released earlier this year, indicates that consumers are both overwhelmed by the options presented to them by the housing industry and clueless about what’s “required” to create a green-built home. For instance, 82 percent of the 1,005 Eco Pulse respondents thought Energy Star–rated appliances were a required specification, followed closely by water-saving features, high-performance windows, and solar panels. “They think they have to do them all,” says Shelton.
To get buyers over their fear, mistrust, and ignorance about green building, Shelton recommends that builders sell a baseline green house with few (if any) eco-options and have their homes rated and certified green by a third-party program not only to qualify them but also to enable buyers to gauge the difference. She also sees knowledgeable green builders becoming trusted sources of accurate green information. “A builder who really knows this stuff becomes a consultant,” says Shelton, instead of just a salesperson.
To purchase the Eco Pulse survey and the companion Energy Pulse report, released in October, go to www.energypulse.org or www.sheltongroupinc.com.