I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to see the color green in almost everything I look at — whether it's a piece of lumber in the hardware store, a brown carpet sample in a rug store, or even a plain white building (if I stare at it long enough). Could this have something to do with all of the marketing messages being pushed by what seems like every single company in North America? Based on all of the attention green building has gotten recently, I wonder if there's anyone out there who hasn't yet jumped on the “Go-Green” bandwagon yet.
Considering the green movement momentum, it stands to reason that none of you are having trouble convincing your clients to sign off on that lighting retrofit, advanced metering, or motor replacement proposal, right? They should be beating down your door, begging you to put them on the schedule. If not, maybe this will help explain things a little.
Survey results released a few months back by the American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C., show that 40% of voters believe cars and trucks are the highest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, compared to just 7% who accurately identified buildings as the top cause of emissions. Maybe your client is one of those survey participants who doesn't realize that buildings produce nearly 50% of greenhouse gas emissions while consuming 71% of the electricity produced at U.S. power plants.
Results from another survey — this one conducted online by EcoAlign, a marketing agency based in Washington, D.C., that is focused on energy and the environment — revealed there is still a gap between a willingness to adopt or purchase green products, services, and technologies and consumer value perceptions around such offerings. According to the survey, consumers think many forms of green technology are cost-prohibitive, difficult to understand, and even aesthetically unappealing.
The challenge for the engineering and construction community is to change these negative perceptions and clear up misconceptions in the market. What can you do? Work harder and find innovative ways to connect your products and services with your current and potential customer's ideas about convenience, comfort, cost, and design. Figure out ways to get your clients to care enough about green technology to sign off on that next project. Convince them that any extra up-front costs associated with a sustainable project should be easily recovered through faster lease-up rates, rental premiums, and increased market valuation — not to mention the core energy savings realized throughout the life cycle of their building. In other words, your job is to convince your clients to start seeing green in everything they see.
But don't worry. You're not facing this daunting task alone. Energy providers and electric utilities across the nation continue to launch energy-efficiency programs. Press releases on this topic come across my desk almost daily. In fact, I received one today highlighting a yearlong “12 Ways to Green” campaign from ComEd, a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., which will educate customers on ways they can conserve energy, save money, and benefit the environment. The programs target both its residential and commercial/industrial customers. Couple this with the never-ending string of energy bills being introduced by the House and Senate (and the ordinances being adopted by state and local agencies), and before long, your clients will have no choice in the matter. They'll be forced to play in a green world or shut down and move to another part of the globe.
The editors of Electrical Construction & Maintenance and Electrical Wholesaling magazines decided the time was right to launch our very own green product. GreenBiz, a twice-monthly e-newsletter, will inform electrical contractors, maintenance personnel, electrical engineers, electrical distributors, manufacturing personnel and their reps, and other electrical professionals about the latest news in the ever-growing green market. We hope you enjoy this new online publication and welcome your comments about the usefulness of this new tool. Please send your feedback to Jim Lucy, Chief Editor, Electrical Wholesaling magazine, at [email protected].