Everything I hear is "Green, green, green." I don't disagree with it, and I know it's become a factor in my market, but how important is it? What should I be doing?
You should get on the green bandwagon for a lot of reasons, but the simplest one is that if you don't get on the bandwagon, it's going to leave without you. Pretty soon a green accreditation will be like a contractor's license-there will really be no option.
The momentum behind eco-everything is building quickly. An increasing percentage of contracting business requires expertise in green methods and materials, along with an ability to explain green economics, particularly to smaller commercial and residential clients.
You say, "But, I know about this stuff. I've done some of it. I read my trade magazines. Isn't that enough?"
I'll respond with a flat no because accreditation is required for many projects. For others, you'll be competing against contractors who are certified and you'll lose. Finally, having a general idea vs. really knowing the right way are two different things.
Now, a few thoughts about the green market and why you should pay attention to it:
- Commercial building owners: They want to go green, but building new buildings isn't an option these days. Green retrofits, however, have relatively short payback times and can be done in affordable phases. They'll do these now in a down economy and more so as things improve. So all good for you.
- But even retrofit projects cost money. Why are they hot to do green stuff? Same reason you should be. Green means lower operating costs now (and lower rents later) and a better image. Tenants want both.
- Public sector: More and more public agencies are instituting green requirements for contractors-no green certification equals no bid and no business.
- Conventional repair/replace/remodel: Can't you just work that piece of the business and ignore the green stuff? Sorry, no. Even if they end up opting for conventional solutions, most prospective clients want to at least hear about the green options. If you can't explain the pros, cons, options and economics to prospects, they'll get estimates (and give the business) to someone who can.
- Tax incentives and subsidies greatly reduce the costs of green construction. These incentives and subsidies are likely to be expanded, increased and push even more business into the green market.
All in all, this presents a very bright picture for the green contractor and a very shaky one for the old school operator.
How to Get Started
Get going on accreditation sooner rather than later. This process takes months, so get started now. You won't find time when business picks up.
Your trade association should have either its own green accreditation program or point you toward the best one for you. Here are a couple resources to get you going:
- USGBC (U. S. Green Building Council) - This group has become the biggest player in the green construction certification business through the LEED system (see below).
- LEED - This is the leading general accreditation system. They accredit both projects and construction professionals.
I've been harping on using the recession to get your business tightened up and positioned for the future. Get started now and you can be the one riding the wave when the green tsunami hits your market.
Jayme Dill Broudy is founder and principal of Contractor's Business School, a hands-on training program for contractors. Call 800.527.7545 to get a free CD, "10 Key Strategies to Building a Business That Works
Construction Business Owner, April 2009