Dodge Data & Analytics Survey Says: Green Building Activity Continues to Increase

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Marketing, demand, fuels growth in dedicated green builders, developers

By Mike Bonts

Dodge Data & Analytics has surveyed home builders since 2006 about their level of green building activity.

The latest suggests that residential green building from Pensacola to Jacksonville to Key West is a strong market with vigorous growth expected in the future.

It also offers insights on how the industry (and consumers) are approaching green building. One important element is marketing.

Builders were asked about whether green homes are easier, more difficult or about the same to market as traditional homes. Single family builders were nearly equally split between those who find them easier to market, those who find them the same and those who find them more difficult.

While still emerging from the recession, green was a distinguishing feature in a challenging real estate market.

“Now that the market has recovered, and expectations about the energy performance of new homes have become higher, the advantages of other aspects of a green home, such as improved indoor environmental quality, may need to be emphasized in marketing efforts,” said Jeremy Nelson, president of the Florida Green Building Coalition.

With over 16,700 green building certifications to date, the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) is by far the largest certifier of green homes, communities and local governments in Florida.

Green experience appears to help with marketing. Nearly half (42%) of those building mostly green and over half (55%) of dedicated green builders find green homes easier to market.

“The study demonstrated that a high percentage of single and multifamily builders and remodelers are engaged in green building and even more expect that involvement to increase,” noted FGBC Executive Director C.J. Davila. “It also revealed lively growth in the use of renewable technologies, which is helping to drive more construction of net zero homes.”

COMMUNICATING ABOUT GREEN

According to the survey simply being green is not enough.

Builders and remodelers were asked about the most effective language for communicating their projects’ green attributes. Their responses suggest that cost savings and improved health top the list.

• Referencing cost savings is most widely recognized among both single and multifamily builders as effective Operating efficiency is an effective phrase for multifamily customers, and, to a slightly lesser degree, single family home buyers/owners.
• Healthier homes are recognized by nearly half as an effective phrase.
• Quality construction, being high performance and durability are all considered effective by a much higher percentage of single family builders.
• Reduced environmental impact is rated as effective by a higher -percentage of multifamily builders than single family builders, but even that percentage (15%) is still relatively low.

Using these key points, builders and developers should not only promote their commitment to sustainability but communicate solid reasons for homeowners to choose them to build their new home or live in a community they created.

Information should be on their website, social media, public relations and in advertising and collateral.

Customers should be easily able to find and grasp the benefits and principles of building and living Florida Green. Communicate the information in a simple, easy-to-understand format that will result in an “ah ha!” moment. This is where green education can play an important role.

GREEN EDUCATION IS AN EFFECTIVE TOOL

With a mission is to lead and promote a state of sustainability with environmental, economic, and social benefits through regional education, grassroots outreach and certification programs since 2000, FGBC helps member builders and developers clearly demonstrate the key benefits of building a “Florida Green” certified home or community.

A few useful tips from the marketing playbook include:

• Introduction. A general welcome and place to brand projects as “Florida Green.” This can include environmental philosophy, commitment and testimonials.
• Building Practices. Focus on sustainable practices. Recycled materials, water conservation, environmental architecture or site planning, foundation, insulation and construction from the foundation mixture to the exterior.
• Solar Information. Explain the building science, product and the returns.
• Third-Party Certification. To truly be green builders and developers should substantiate performance through third-party verification. FGBC certification programs are the only standards developed with climate specific criteria to address issues caused by the state’s hot-humid environment, topography and natural disasters.
• Air Quality. HVAC, ventilation. For example, improving moisture control and indoor air quality with low VOC materials and better air filtration systems.
• Savings. This illustrates the value of building green in terms of tax credits, appreciation and of course monthly energy savings. And the green features should help their resale value as well, making it a win-win.
In addition to marketing, the survey also examines the costs and benefits of building green, the drivers and obstacles influencing their decision, and the green practices and features that they most widely use and value, data on renewable energy and net zero homes.

For more information on marketing and certifying “Florida Green” projects and to get a copy of Green Multifamily and Single-Family Homes 2017 by Dodge Data & Analytics and the National Association of Home Builders contact the Florida Green Building Coalition at info@floridagreenbuilding.org or call (407) 777-4920.

Mike Bonts is on the board of the Florida Green Building Coalition, a member of FHBA and president of Mike Bonts Public Relations, a Jacksonville, Fla. based PR and brand development firm for residential and commercial development, construction and real estate.