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You don’t need to be an economist to recognize the construction industry is marred in a deep recession. One ray of sunshine is found in the “green” construction market. Consumers, both residential and commercial, are asking for eco-conscious products and practices and our administration in Washington is throwing money at the cause. So how does a local construction industry company (builder, subcontractor, architect, engineer, supplier), become green? Better yet how does he become branded as a “green” company?
I’m not a builder but I’ve owned publishing companies and ad agencies for more than 25 years launching hundreds of websites and 62 magazine titles. I can’t tell you how to be a better builder but I can tell you exactly how to build a green brand. Here are the 5 most important steps. I’ll give you a tip: read #5 first so you don’t miss it. It pulls everything else together.
1. Recycle all jobsite waste – Don’t let someone greenwash it. Do it right. Source a recycling company that sorts through every piece of waste dropped off at their yard and bundles the wood, plastic, cardboard and paper, and crushes the concrete. If you’re an electrical contractor or HVAC supplier and the general contractor doesn’t properly recycle, have your team collect their scrap and drop it off at a recycling center regularly. Your returns from the scrap will offset labor. Architects and Engineers can help source proper resources for the general contractor and share in the recognition. See #5.
2. Source green construction materials – This is easier than you might think. Begin with TheGreenRegister green pages and look for products in each category that carry our stamp of approval. There are a number of additional resources that might not be as comprehensive but have identified fabulous construction products that are eco-friendly: www.usgbc.org, www.buildinggreen.com, and obviously Google.
3. Educate the consumer – You can’t spec green products without giving the customer the full story behind the products. At times you’ll be asking him to make a short-term investment that will pay off in long-term savings. Do your homework and make certain you can tell a great story about why the product you’re recommending makes sense for his project.
4. Affiliate with other “green companies” – I’ll never forget my grandmother telling me as a teenager, “Son bad company overcomes good character every time”. She was right. I have six children and I’m constantly concerned with the friends they are choosing. In the mid-nineties I bought a failing outdoor publishing company. They had a horrible reputation in the industry and particularly among outdoor writers. As luck would have it the most prolific outdoor writer in the U.S. lived within 5 miles of my office. I immediately gave him assignments and within 3 months he had taken me to see six of the most important people in the outdoor industry. I found ways to affiliate with each of them and in 4 years we were the second largest outdoor publisher in the U.S. It all started by building partnerships with credible companies. In your local market there are almost certainly companies that are leading the charge in the green building market. Take the time to sit down with them and share your plan for building a partnership of green suppliers that can deliver a turn-key resource for green construction. Share with them all of the items in #5 and they’ll believe you. Make certain you partner with companies that do it right. No greenwashing. Invest in certifications like LEEDS or Energy Star and use branding icons like TheGreenRegister Approved or Green America approved suppliers.
5. The Secret Sauce – #1-4 will do you little good in terms of building a green brand if you don’t execute this one. Build a set of videos showing how you’ve built a green company and use it on your website and in all of your marketing. You don’t need to hire a video production company. A standard home video camera is all you need. Go to a jobsite and video the waste collection. Then video the work done at the recycling yard. Have your web manager, or better yet, a teenager you know, set up a YouTube channel for you and link back all of the video you’ve built and the videos from product suppliers you are using to your website. This is critical. People are more likely to believe what they see than what you tell them. Start blogging on sites like thegreenregister.com. If you don’t like to write, have your spouse or someone at your office do it. Back-link your website to green sites. Here’s a bonus: Claim a title. Not Duke of Nottingham but something like: Birmingham’s #1 green architect. I’ll never forget 25 years ago hearing ads on the radio for James Gregory “America’s Funniest Man”, I actually went to the Comedy Club to see him and after the show I asked him who gave him the title. He looked me dead in the eye and said “I did”.
These are not the only tools you can put in your belt but they work. Whatever you choose stay the course. None of these ideas involve writing big checks. They involve investing time and energy in building a business that will last over time if and only if you do what you say. If we’re going to be leaders in the green market let’s all stay committed to truly using eco-friendly practices and products in building.
by Doug Moore
About the author – Doug Moore, Founder and Publisher of TheGreenRegister has launched more than 60 print titles and built the leading websites in more than a dozen unique industries. He is a noted author and speaker on branding around the globe.