The View From Here
by Ric Jackson
October 21st, 2019

Are Builders and Developers Steps Ahead of Consumers?

A new report commissioned by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) revealed some surprising statistics, indicating that:

  1. consumers are concerned about the environment but aren’t necessarily acting, and
  2. there is a disconnect between “living green” and the benefits of green building.

According to the report, respondents viewed “living green” as recycling, composting, using reusable grocery bags and intentionally monitoring water, electricity and the consumption of food. On the other hand, green building is more often thought of in terms of energy consumption.

As we all know, green buildings are so much more than that, offering health and other benefits to occupants. Yet, only 11% of those surveyed, see green building as a way for people to live longer and healthier lives. Furthermore, on the consumer level, green buildings are not often considered part of “the solution” to environmental problems.

This was surprising to me. And I don’t know what to make of the lack of awareness around how green buildings are a vital way to improve the environment.

I have to ask: Could it be that the choice to buy or rent a green home as a way to help the environment is one that’s too costly for the majority of the population? Could it have to do with the gentrification of the population?

A recurring theme in the text of the report is that peoples’ perspectives on environmental issues differ based on their circumstances, with surprisingly few are looking beyond their own experiences and communities. In a sense, the report indicated that consumers are psychologically distancing themselves from environmental problems. And the sea of statistics and points of proof don’t seem to inspire action. Rather, the authors of the report cite that humanization and personal stories have the greatest impact.

I also wonder—if this report were broken out by age groups, would the results have given us a more complete understanding? There are clear signs that up-and-coming generations are generally more aware of the impacts their actions have on the environment.

The View from Here

The view from here is that, for the first time in my life, I see builders and developers responding to green building ahead of consumers. For our industry, that means we still have work to do to educate consumers on the holistic effects of green building on both our environment and health and wellness.

What’s your View? Email me directly at eric.jackson@quanex.com.

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