By Melissa Caldwell
I just finished reading “If Only Green Homes Could be Sold like Breakfast Cereal”, a blog from Martin Holladay’s “Musings of an Energy Nerd”. Although a seemingly big stretch from marketing boxed cereal to a green home, Martin says the bottom line is all about acknowledging what’s important to the shopper, and their level of interest in whatever the marketer is using to sell the item or service. Holladay noticed that some sweet sugary cereals are sold, touting their ‘g of fiber in every serving’. In this instance, the shopper knows what a “g” is and that the grams of fiber content justifies the purchase. Sure, why not! I can eat this mostly non-nutritive cereal and still do something good for myself. Go figure. So, the quandary for us as sustainable builders is, if shoppers are savvy enough to know what a “g” is on a cereal box, can’t we assume they would know what HERS ratings, LEED and ENERGY STAR certification are and what a sustainable home means to your energy savings? No, we can’t! What we and others have found is that home owners don’t care so much about green and/or sustainable, but more about COMFORT!
Wright Builders has been known for more than 20 years for its commitment to and execution of green and sustainable building; the use of energy efficient systems including state of the art minisplits, triple glazed windows, double stud walls, HERS ratings below code minimum, ENERGY STAR and LEED Certification. That’s all well and good, but what Holladay and others are asking is, what about the comfort! According to Dr. Helen Ryding, only governments care about energy efficiency; homeowners care about comfort. And said differently by the author of “People Don’t Care about Energy Efficiency”, Leland Teschler says “Energy efficiency just isn’t a priority for the vast majority of consumers.” ‘People are concerned about the predictable matters like the aesthetics of their homes and comfort.” Here’s that word again. C-o- m-f- o-r- t! Okay, we can do this. We can talk about comfort first, then sustainable construction and weave the 2 together using any of our sustainable building attributes. Triple glazed windows as an example, now more often used in new green home construction and required in zones 7-8. With these windows comfort equals reduced sound transmission, excellent resistance to condensation problems, decreased relative heat loss resulting in positively impacting your energy bills, security enhancement, as the thicker area will be harder to break in if someone wants to do some property damage, greater energy savings when compared to regular and double glazed windows, and in certain circumstances, installing triple glazed windows is equivalent to upgrading walls and ceilings from R-20 to R-40. That’s all about year-round comfort when heating or cooling.
Comfort in a sustainably built home comes in many flavors and connecting the dots between comfort and sustainably built is easy. Lower indoor room temperature fluctuation; low operating costs achieved through ENREGY STAR compliance, low HERS rating and state-of- the-art building envelope design, and satisfaction of knowing that a long-term investment, enjoyed every day is also treading as light as possible on the planet. That all spells C-O- M-F- O-R- T. Here’s an idea: Have your marketing materials show beautiful interiors, with lounging happy home owners, comfortable in their new home as a Nor’ Easter blows through! With their double stud walls and R-35 wall insulation and triple glazing with a U .17, the windows aren’t moving and the curtains aren’t blowing in the breeze! And when the power goes out, knowing their home is minimally vulnerable during power outages as these homes hold their temperature for an extended period of time is just another plus. We’re looking forward to winter! How about you?