Publisher's Note: Will Emphasis on Green Wash Away Interest?
The start of the football season reminds me of the story about the oversized defensive lineman who picked up a fumble and saw 50 yards of open field in front of him.
“For the first 30 yards, I worried somebody would catch me,” he recalled later in an interview. “For the last 20 yards, I worried somebody wouldn’t.”
I admit to similar feelings about the economy’s impact on green construction. Going into the recession, I worried that the downturn would make building owners turn away from what they perceived to be the higher costs of green building. Coming out of the recession, I worry that people’s priorities will change when they get busy again.
Interest in green building has held up remarkably well, however, despite the economy. It continues to be a bright spot in what has been a mostly dreary construction market.
In fact, as I’m writing this, an e-mail popped up on my computer screen with these numbers: “$12 billion was spent on green buildings in 2008. This number is projected to grow to $60 billion by 2013.”
As I do with the other messages I receive on green-related subjects, I moved this message to my “Green” e-mail folder. I created this folder on April 29, 2008, when I noticed how many messages I was getting on green topics. As of Aug. 18, the folder contains 218 items.
Most of the e-mails, like the one I just received, appear legit. The senders include professional associations, model code bodies, educators, manufacturers and PR agencies.
Fortunately, the plumbing-piping-hydronic heating-fire protection industry - and engineers specifically - play a critical role in the design and construction of green buildings. It’s only natural that people would want to inform a leading magazine such as pme about their products, events and services.
My Green folder contains messages unrelated to green buildings that make me wonder if green is becoming a victim of its own success. I suspect that repeated marketing claims tying a myriad of products, services and events to sustainability may numb people to the green message. This could put a bigger dent in green construction than the economy.
For example, one product is an eco-friendly line of dog bedding products and accessories, which are “playful yet sophisticated.” What about the “Hollywood Goes Green” conference last December? Or, “The 2nd Annual ‘Green With Music’ Eco-Luxurious Gifting Retreat” last February, also in Los Angeles?
My favorite green commercial has to be a radio ad run by a Chicago-area casino. How, you might ask, can you help the green movement by gambling? By winning a Prius hybrid vehicle at the casino, of course.
Consumers, including your clients, get bombarded by claims and statistics from all sides. Your professional expertise on sustainable building systems will allow you to stand out in the crowd.
Make sure your clients realize that you understand the difference between what will help them achieve their green construction objectives and what are empty promises. Pick up the ball and run with it.