May 2012 Newsletter
In This Issue
First Call for Evergreen Nominees
It's that time of year again. The GRC is looking for 2012 nominees for the EverGreen Award.
It's year four for the awards program.
All NAR Green Designees, certified GREEN Instructors, and Course Providers are eligible for nomination.
The award allows us to shine the spotlight on remarkable GRC members and to tell their stories of how they came to be green and how they educate and motivate others to join the cause.
The 2012 winners will be in good company when they join the group of past winners.
Here's a snapshot of three past winners.
Bob McCranie's road to green wasn't a linear path. And it wasn't free of glitches. McCranie (2010 Evergreen winner) is broker with Texas Pride Realty, Carrollton, Texas, and his experience illustrates the importance of perseverance and seeking creative alternatives when going green gets messy.
Being immersed in a green lifestyle and leading by example are two of Melisa Camp's tactics for promoting sustainability. She also tries to plant some kind of green seed with as many people as she can. Then Camp, (2011 Evergreen winner), CEO of Go Green Investments and a real estate practitioner with HomeSmart International in Phoenix, waits for the snowball effect. One person tells five people about a green concept. Those five tells two more people. And on it goes. The message spreads.
Education is the first step in becoming a GRC member and Curtis Hall (2010 Evergreen winner) accomplishes that beautifully. Hall, ABR®, GREEN, GRI, CRS, teaches NAR's Green Designation, and infuses his classes with drama, departing from a "them's-the-facts" delivery of the material. He woos, cajoles, and implores his audience to do something for the planet. Students leave his class feeling that it's imperative for them to make sustainability a priority in their lives and businesses.
Bring us your nominees
We need another round of compelling stories to share. We also need your help in finding those bright green minds.
In nominees, we're looking for several attributes, including a dedication to green in their life and work, outstanding skills, and a demonstrated commitment to advancing the green building industry.
Find complete information, including the nomination form, right here. Keep in mind that the deadline is August 30, 2012.
Bold Green Marketing Materials
As you gear up to freshen your image and marketing materials for the coming season, check out the new line of printed materials that the GRC has developed for you.
It will be rolling out a set of redesigned postcards and brochures this June that you can use to reach out to existing clients and to make first-time connections with a new client base. Been waiting to find that "just-green-enough" printer to do your business cards? They will also feature a brand-new template for NAR Green Designees to print business cards using their environmentally smarter practices.
The materials boldly illustrate the benefits of green home principles.
One reads: "Energy Efficient Homes Deliver Utility Savings of $200-$400 Each Year."
Another states: "Demand for Green Homes Expected to Rise 900% Over the Next Five Years."
The messages are geared both to existing homeowners and prospective buyers and sellers. That way, you can target all prospects with a green message that resonates with their circumstances.
The materials quickly explain the impact that green principles are having and will have on the housing industry. They also open the door for you to have a conversation with prospects.
Moreover, you can customize the materials with your own message to truly make them your own.
The GRC has partnered with Printing Arts, Broadview, Ill., to get the materials in your hands. The relationship lets you speed up the marketing process so you can concentrate your efforts on prospecting and serving clients, not agonizing over design, copy, and printing.
Plus, you can feel good about working with Printing Arts because the shop produces green materials and operates in an eco-friendly way.
For one, it's an FSC-certified printer, meaning that it adheres to the Forest Stewardship Council protocols for sustainability and the paper it uses comes from a responsible source.
Cleaner, greener printing
Paul Swanson, Printing Art's senior account executive explains that the printing process once was quite toxic. But new materials, chemicals, and recycling protocols now make it possible to for the printing industry to operate in an eco-friendly manner.
"We made a commitment to green initiatives and to be a socially responsible printer and to not do anything that pollutes the community," comments Swanson.
He lists an array of ways Printing Arts has gotten greener, including recycling equipment, using low-VOC, vegetable-based inks, and establishing an in-house ink lab that allows the company to minimize ink waste. "Overall, there's less chemistry than there used to be," says Swanson.
In addition, the company has greened its physical plant and actually has upgraded the lighting system twice in the last 10 years. "It's another way for us to be responsible," he adds.
Special deal for you
Printing Arts serves as a one-stop shop that streamlines your entire marketing program.
You simply upload your order and Printing Arts takes care of the rest. In fact, its mailing service further simplifies the process because you never even have to touch the cards.
Plus, you can test-drive the printing services at a discount. Printing Arts offers a special deal just for GRC members and gives you 15% off your first order.
Take a look at the new GRC designs later this June at the Print Shop.
Green Residential Construction To Spike
Green is on the rise. And green residential construction and remodeling are expected to continue to grow dramatically as the housing market recovers.
So says McGraw-Hill Construction in its 2012 "New and Remodeled Green Homes SmartMarket Report."
And that's good news for you. After all, it likely means that there will be more green properties and properties with green features for you to promote to a client base that gets savvier and savvier about eco-friendly homes.
The McGraw Hill report, a survey of home remodelers' and builders' green activity, provides a bird's-eye view of the current state of green home building and remodeling, along with a view of the future.
It says that the green share of single-family home construction, by value, has doubled over the last three years, jumping from 8% in 2008 to 17% in 2011.
Five-fold green building increase coming
And if you've ever wondered whether investing in green education was right for your future, the report confirms that it was a shrewd business move.
After all, "...customers see value in the savings offered by green homes, and the even stronger growth expected during the recovery is evidence that other factors besides cost savings are also encouraging the growth of green.”
And how big will that growth be? The study suggests that between 2011 and 2016, there will be a five-fold increase in green home market share. During that period green homes could comprise a 29% to 38% market share.
The 60-page report is worth a complete read-through. You can examine the data that's most relevant to your green niche and location.
And though the study focuses squarely on the home building and remodeling industries, the insight into consumer thinking and its forecast for green growth have a direct bearing on your business.
Here are just 7 high points and some key takeaway for you:
1. Consumers will pay for green: Customers are willing to shell out money for green features. On average, customers will pay 6% more for a green home, according to builders and remodelers who are dedicated to green building.
2. Marketing leg-up: Green homes are easier to market than non-green properties say 46% of builders who have revenues of $1 million or more.
3. Green's positive impact: One-third of remodelers believe that green has had a positive impact on their business.
4. Positioned for the future: Green will still serve as a market differentiation over the next five years. But it's expected to become a market expectation. That's why early adopters to green will be better positioned than others to tap the flow of business in coming years.
5. Consumer appetite: Costs savings, green's health benefits, and durable materials that add to the quality and value of a property are what consumers hunger for. Promote those things.
6. Regional differences: Good news if you're in the West and Midwest. More builders in those regions (12% of builders in the West and 10% in the Midwest) sense that customers will pay 10% or more for a green home compared to a non-green one.
7. Green appraisals: Encourage green appraisals and share names of green appraisers with lenders. Why? Consumers need to see that green positively affects home values. It also will encourage buyers to pay more for green homes and motivate homeowners to invest in green upgrades.
Opportunities and Obstacles
Data from the McGraw-Hill report offers deeper understanding of builders' and remodelers' green building activity.
Some data, such as what's driving buyers, applies to your business.
And, it seems, your expertise can go a long way in correcting a lack of consumer knowledge about green that builders and remodelers are observing in the field.
Check out these 5 charts for more information from the study. For additional charts from the study, see this month's charts section.
Back to Basics: Your Green Summer Guide
Looking for a subtle way to connect with prospects? Try offering some tips and ideas they can use to green up their summer.
Share a handful of them on a customized postcard (see "Bold Green Marketing Materials” for GRC's program for green printing) mailer, include some tips in your e-newsletters, or just offer ideas when you're talking with clients and friends.
It's a way to show that your expertise extends beyond just home-related sustainability topics.
Here are 10 ideas:
2. Kiddie crafts. Are you old enough to remember when it was considered pretty normal to make your own toys? Give your kids a taste of that creativity and the thrill of making something themselves. For project ideas, see www.larkcrafts.com, www.kid-at-art.com, and www.craftingagreenworld.com.
3. Green road tripping: Try a no-fly, no-drive vacation by opting for destinations that you can reach by train or by bike. If you do fly or drive, reject the upgrade to an SUV at the car rental counter, stay in green accommodations, and dine on local fare. Find more about green trips at http://gogreentravelgreen.com and find vegetarian and organic food on the road with help from iVegetarian and UrbanSpoon.
4. Camp responsibly. Camping seems like an intrinsically green activity. After all you're sleeping under the stars and communing with nature. But lighten your impact on Mother Nature by following some green ground rules. Among them are:
• Borrow, swap or buy used camping gear
• Opt for reusable products (plates, forks, containers), not disposables
• Tote your trash out
• Put out camp fires and grills before you leave
• Leave no trace that you've been there and stick to designated hiking trails
5. Save energy. Use a ceiling fan instead of air conditioning, hang your clothes out to dry, and try a solar oven. Of course, don't forget about all the small energy-savings tips that you can share. Using a programmable thermostat, tweaking temperature settings, and using efficient bulbs (see this month's Webinar "Bright Ideas: Energy-Saving Lighting" for more info) are all worth repeating, no matter what the season.
6. Bike to work. It's good for the body, the environment, and the wallet. The yearly cost of owning and operating a car can run over $9,000, but a bike can cost as little as $120 per year, according to Bike to Work. The site offers safety tips, info on biking events, and tips for picking the ideal commuter bike.
7. Grow your food: Remove some lush green lawn and devote that space to growing vegetables. Apartment and condo dwellers aren't left out in the cold. Here are some container gardening tips that are ideal for compact spaces. If you or your clients have a brown thumb, a CSA (community-supported agriculture) is always an option for getting fresh produce. Find one here.
8. Green drinks. Use up kale, spinach, and other veggies by becoming a green smoothie maven. Recipe sources include AllRecipes.com, HealthyGreenDrink.com, and RawFamily.com. And for your summer soiree, consider serving organic wines, beers, and spirits.
9. Crop swap. Have a bumper crop of zucchini? Did your tomatoes fail? Set up crop swaps with fellow community gardeners. You get to unload some of your unwanted squash and get enough tomatoes in return to whip up some gazpacho. Read more about swaps here, get some insight on how they work, and find some established California-based swaps here.
10. Tool swap. Before you run out to buy that gadget or tool you'll use just once, check out online sharing groups. They're designed to build community and reduce consumption. You need a ladder, your neighbor needs a shovel, and another needs a crock pot. Why buy? Swap those items instead. Here are some sites to get you started: www.neighborgoods.net, www.sharesomesugar.com, and www.snapgoods.com.
Bright Ideas: Energy-Saving Lighting
Know people who are hoarding incandescent bulbs?
Many do it because they've have had iffy experiences with early-generation CFLs. Some picked the wrong bulb for their fixture. Others see the explosion of bulb options find the learning curve too steep. And still others are fearful because they've heard about mercury in CFLs.
EcoHatchery, an energy efficiency and sustainability software and services firm, has designed an app, the Light Bulb Finder, that not only educates people about the new generation of light bulbs, but also dispels misconceptions and makes it easy to pick light bulbs best suited to your needs.
During the May 2012 Webinar, Adam Borut, co-founder and president of Eco Hatchery, walked listeners through the app and illustrated how simple the Light Bulb Finder makes it to choose the best bulb for a particular need.
You walk through a house, feed in some information -- such as fixture type, hours used, light bulb size -- and the app provides the name of the new energy efficient option. It also displays images of the proper bulb, along with its cost, savings and environmental impact. In addition, it creates shopping lists and lets you buy bulbs directly through the app.
Borut offered some compelling reasons why you and consumers should really focus the spotlight on swapping out incandescent for other options.
• CFL bulbs last 5 to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy
• LEDs last 15 to 50 times longer and use 80% less energy than an incandescent bulb
Turn app into your own marketing tool
You can use the app as a marketing tool and as a way to add a new level of service for clients. Offer to analyze their light bulb usage and use the app to create a room-by room replacement guide. You then can print out or e-mail a shopping list for homeowners to consult.
They'll see immediate payback, according to Borut. By just replacing bulbs in the kitchen and living room, the average savings homeowners see is $58 per year.
This Month's Tips
3 Summer Energy Tips
Minor changes can yield minor energy savings during the summer. But many people making minor change can add up to a bundle.
So here are three easy ways to cut consumption, along with the potential energy savings of each activity.
1. Use the warm or cold water for laundry and always rinse clothes in cold water. (Savings: 4 percent) Line dry clothes when possible. (Save up to 5 percent).
2. When you do use the dryer, run full loads, use the moisture-sensing setting, and clean the lint trap after each use. (Savings: 0.5 percent).
3. Run your dishwasher only when it's full and turn off the dry cycle to let dishes air dry. (Savings: 1 percent).
Source: California Energy Commission
All articles written by Elyse Umlauf-Garneau unless otherwise noted.