Q&A: Green building success depends on building professionals

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
Q&A: Green building success depends on building professionals

It’s up to building professionals to demonstrate to their clients the benefits of green building, including a long-term return on investment and a more comfortable, durable home.

A professional sales approach that helps homeowners get excited about things like insulation and indoor air quality has led Texas homebuilder, T.W. Bailey Sr., president of Bailey Family Builders, to build award-winning green homes and shape the future of energy-efficient home building.

TW Bailey
T.W. Bailey

Based in Frisco, Texas, Bailey, got his start in green building in the 1980s when a mentor educated him on the benefits of a high-performance, high quality home that delivers value for the buyer as well as the builder. Over the years he’s built homes that have won awards for design and construction excellence.

Today, Bailey holds numerous professional certifications including CAPS, CGR, GMB, MCGP, and sits on the board of directors of the Remodelers Council of the Dallas Builders Association and serves on the board of the National Association of Home Builders and green building committee. His company builds homes across the price spectrum and also does green remodeling and light commercial projects as well.

Are more new home and remodeling building professional adopting green construction strategies?

Not every builder will say they're building green homes, but when you're building a home with efficient windows, doing insulation at the level now required by code and handling water efficiency at the level required by code, sometimes you may not want to say it's green and you may not know it's green, but it's green.

Is the home buying public embracing green and high-performance homes?

We find today that many of our clients are more educated about performance and sustainability than a number of our builders.

There's nothing that will lose credibility for a builder quicker than to have a client ask you a question they maybe know the answer to and they are just looking for your opinion and you come off with some outdated response. They'll continue to be nice to you throughout the conversation and next thing you know they're talking to another builder.

I encourage building professionals to not fight the curve but join the curve and use it to their advantage. By getting themselves properly educated and being able to carry on a subject specific dialogue with their clients they have much more credibility in the marketplace.

Bailey Family Builders Green Home
The #5 Nonesuch Road project won the 2010 Arch Award from the Dallas Builders Association for Best Green Built Homes over $1 Million and meets Green Built Texas standards.

How do you present the benefit of green building to your clients?

The old school of return on investment says you typically need to pay it back in about 6 years or so. With green building it's a whole different story, and I when I explain this to prospective clients they get it, whether they're a wage earner buying an entry level home or an upper income person buying their second or third luxury move-up product. The return on investment on what you spend for green building is typically realized the first month you're in the home.

Here's a real example of a 3,00 square-foot home with $300 month average utility bill. If you spend $10,000 additional on the green aspects of the home, you can reduce that energy cost to $150 per month. At today’s mortgage rates, the $10,000 you spend costs you about $30 per month. You’ve saved $150 in utility costs and you’ve spent $30 to do it. Your positive cash flow that first month is $120, and it will be at least $120 a month after that.

Whenever I’ve explained that to a customer, whether they’re buying a $100,00 home or $3 million home, they’ve never failed to embrace it and find great value in it.

I tell the real estate community, who do you think will be more able to make their mortgage payment: The family that has $120 less capital outlay every month or the one that has $120 more capital outlay every month? I submit it will be the family that has $120 less expense every month.

How important is green remodeling for building professionals?

We don’t want to sell the remodeling side of the business short. We have 100 years of housing stock in the U.S. that needs to be brought forward to the same level of efficiency and sustainability as the new products we are building today.

Does green home remodeling benefit from the same sales approach as new building?

When I tell a client that we need to take the house down to the studs  and they ask what will that cost, I say instead let me tell you what it will do for you.

It will give you a home where you can sit in front of the window and won’t feel the air coming around the window, and will give you a nice, consistent temperature in the home. The air quality in the home will be such that it will be noticeably different as far as dusting and you can anticipate what that will give you as far as your health.

Another Bailey home built to the Green Built Texas standard.

Are homeowners reluctant to invest in green upgrades for their homes?

It’s not a matter of they don’t want to pay for this or that, or they don’t appreciate it. It’s a matter of they don’t know.

They don’t know that good air quality means you only need to dust once a month instead of every other day.

They don’t know the temperature of the home is a constant level. They don’t know the energy bill instead of $300 would only be $150.

When you explain it to them and tell them how you can accomplish that, you not only have to explain the features but you have to explain the benefits, and then they can make a determination whether it’s what they want to invest.

It doesn't hurt people who are building professionals in whatever area to have some professional sales knowledge.

How can remodeling building professional offer green building solutions to homeowners looking for a kitchen makeover?

If a client called me about a bathroom or kitchen update, I’d say before we start talking about this kitchen or bathroom, I’d like to talk about the ductwork in your home. Old ductwork is antiquated and is probably leaking 30 percent to 40 percent of its air right around the joints. I can make that statement because I know they built ducts back then with mastic and tape. It’s not a major job to update ductwork by taking the joints apart and remaking them.

I’d recommend spending a few dollars to go up in the attic and seal ductwork and the savings from that will help pay for the rest of the project. You’ve created credibility for yourself and you’ve shown your client you care about them and not just updating their kitchen or bathroom.

What do you see for the future of green building?

I’ve been telling my friends in the industry that in the not-too-distant future we won’t call it green building any more, it will just be the way we build our homes.

Read more about building green.


Topics: Building Green, Certification / LEED, Energy Audits, Going Green, GREAT GREEN HOMES, Sustainability Trends & Statistics, Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Products



Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

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