What it means to be a Green builder


Every building magazine I pick up is dedicated to green building. It seems Green building is sweeping New Zealand — at last!


Sadly, while the majority of Kiwis want to live more in tune with the environment, few will base their new home purchase solely on it being green.


At the end of the day the green that still matters is the green in their wallets. Unless I am out of touch, it seems to me that value still trumps green to the vast majority of potential home buyers out there.


No offence meant to the magazine publishers, but this much focus on green in the current market could be like Nero playing the fiddle as Rome burns. That may be harsh but our industry has more pressing needs at the moment.


For instance, building more efficiently, driving traffic and sales and setting up the systems to thrive and survive — that is what will get you through these tough times.


Those who know me know that I am not anti-Green — in fact, very far from it. But if you are struggling to stay afloat, then perhaps building green needs to be looked at as not always the first answer, but in conjunction with a focus on delivering better value to your customers and building more efficiently.


The Green aspect will always be the reinforcement in buyers’ minds that they have bought a great home and they’re doing their bit for the environment as well.


Icing on the cake

But it is the icing on the cake of a building project and, until you are a lean, mean, profit machine, it should be the window dressing and not the main emphasis.


Don’t confuse a responsible environmental footprint as the trigger for the sale, but it is a great bonus in the customer’s mind. Often people will buy a recycled product if it is the same price, and it feels good, but they may not have actually set out to do so.


There is many a home that doesn’t get bought because the perceived value just isn’t there. In this market, solid good value will bring you far greater traffic and buyers than the Green proposition.


So what is building Green to me? It’s building an efficient home, understanding the Green credentials in the home, controlling your costs and being a profitable company.


Build Green into the bones of your home by efficiency of design for things such as heating, cooling and selective material choice. In green circles sustainability is known as the “S” word but, to me, the essence of sustainability is $ — ie, $ustainability.


This way it earns its place in the market and then doesn’t need propping up or subsidising.