Builders are bullish and attentive to sustainability

Builders are bullish and attentive to sustainability

The Pacific Coast Builders Conference showed a healthier building industry and a buying market interested in energy-efficient and healthy construction features.

Last week, San Diego welcomed the Pacific Coast Builders Conference, a trade show that brings together everyone from homebuilders and developers to architects, contractors and interior designers.

I expected to see what anyone expects to see at a trade show – fancy booths, logo polos and branded swag – but it was more than that. I noticed as I walked the show floor that many of the conversations were about growth, both in the building industry and at PCBC in general.

I learned that when the housing market crashed, it was evident in the declining numbers at trade shows like PCBC. The numbers for this year’s conference haven’t been announced yet, but a press release from PCBC’s 2012 show cited a 20 percent increase in conference and workshop registrations last year, and I imagine this year’s show saw even higher numbers.

The U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development recently released statistics that also show growth in the new residential construction market, so things are looking up for the building industry.

With that growth, we’ve noticed another trend in the building industry: an emphasis on sustainability. A number of exhibitors showcased energy-efficient and sustainable products, and one even showed how farm spaces and edible landscapes could be incorporated into communities.

BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, showed how it’s helping the growth of the sustainability trend with the BEYOND.High PerformanceSM program. PCBC attendees walked through two demonstration homes to see how the BEYOND.High Performance program uses cost-effective techniques for reaching an extraordinary level of energy efficiency and sustainable construction.

“Through the BEYOND.High Performance program, we’re introducing a new way of thinking about residential construction,” said Rick Davenport, director of Sustainable Construction for BASF in North America.

“At the Center for Building Excellence at BASF, we provide consulting, plan reviews and other services that help builders to construct homes where every aspect, from the ground up, works as part of a system to create the most energy-efficient and sustainable environment possible.”

It’s important for the building industry to recognize the growing sustainability trend: Our research shows that, with the improving economy, consumers are placing a somewhat higher importance on the protection of natural resources, and they’ve always valued energy efficiency.

We also know that consumers are looking for companies with a strong environmental reputation, so builders have an opportunity to win over some new customers if they tout their environmental initiatives as well.

If that’s not enough, our research also shows a growing concern about chemical content in a variety of non-food products, and almost half of Americans said they are concerned about the indoor air quality of their homes. We think that number is likely to increase over the next few years.

So what do builders need to do?

  • Communicate the value proposition of superior energy efficiency.
  • Take advantage of the economic recovery and talk about your environmental initiatives.
  • Educate your customers about indoor air quality.
  • And if you’re already focused on sustainability, you’re ahead of the game!

Posted on

June 14, 2013

About the Author

Martha Wampler Behm

Martha is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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