Making consumers see green
WASHINGTON – It might be easier to sell consumers on green and sustainable buildings. But they’re not completely sold.
Not yet, anyway, some industry experts said Wednesday.
Closing the gap for developers, Realtors and builders, in large part, involves knowing how to communicate to prospective buyers and tenants. Those in green building know how to speak the industry language, but it might as well be an unintelligible foreign language to outsiders, Rose Quint, assistant vice president of survey research for the U.S. National Association of Home Builders, told those at a Greenbuild 2015 educational session titled, “Make it better! How to sell when ‘green’ doesn’t mean ‘go.’ ”
The problem is that words and terms easily identifiable to green professionals fail to resonate with consumers.
The NAHB and National Association of Realtors highlighted varied new research, including a new NAHB study, aimed at helping those trying to build and sell sustainable buildings to get consumers’ buy-in.
Among the highlights:
- Nearly half of consumers think of green building as something efficient and eco-friendly.
- Energy efficiency is what homebuyers seek most.
- Word usage impacts the consumer mindset. They respond more favorably to “comfortable” instead of “livable,” and prefer “energy efficient” over “high efficiency.” “They feel more value from those words,” Quint said.
The real estate industry as a whole has been “ineffective” in selling sustainable products, said Craig Foley, chief of energy efficiency at RE/MAX Leading Edge in Boston. He blamed the lack of success on an inability of those marketing green buildings to adequately articulate the benefits to the public.
Foley pointed to fear among many real estate agents, in particular, who have spent years in the business and are being force to learn a new product in a changing field he described as ripe for “disruption.”
Selling sustainable buildings would be easy if consumers said upfront those are the types of structures they wanted, said Amanda Stinton, manager of green designation and e-Pro at the National Association of Realtors.
“We’re not getting that – yet,” she said.
Weaving in what she calls the three C’s – cost savings, control and comfort – into discussions can go a long way in selling consumers on sustainable buildings.
“If you can communicate these benefits, that’s a huge edge,” Stinton said. “If you know that’s what they’re looking for … that’s a great lead-in for being at the forefront.”