Q: How do remodelers actually sell “green” work when it costs more and the payback is in the future for the homeowner? — Clay Lyon, Lyon Design , Kansas City, Mo.
A: My first objective is to educate homeowners and present ideas for their consideration. I share examples of previous projects, articles, books, and Web sites on green building and make the research aspect of it fun and interactive.
Begin with simple explanations: Green building means building better, building smarter, and using the latest technologies, procedures, and products that are energy-efficient, long-lasting, not harmful to the environment, and that promote healthy home environments. When defined in that way, it makes it easier for clients to embrace green building.
While many aspects of green building do cost more, it doesn't have to be an exorbitant amount. A Silver LEED-certified home that we built in 2006 cost just 7% more than a conventional version of the same home.
There are also many facets of green building that don't necessarily result in added costs, such as proper siting of the project to maximize passive solar and natural day lighting, having a recycling program in place, reusing materials, remodeling versus building new, and the greenest option of all: downsizing to make a project smaller.
I offer to explain and show the cost differences for any of the approaches while showing that it is sensible and responsible to build green. In some cases, I use energy modeling to show the payback in number of years based on gained efficiencies.
The remodeler/contractor must be well educated on the options, their impact, and the cost considerations, and is responsible for sharing that information with customers in a way that is easy for them to understand and employ to make informed choices.
Most homeowners agree that it is worth it to incorporate green building in their house.
—Doug Storey is a managing partner of Two Storey Building, a custom builder in Bolton, Mass., that specializes in green building.