Why Your Training Program Should Focus on Energy Efficiency

by Kacey Larsen

Commitment to environmental building often begins with training programs, particularly when it comes to energy efficiency initiatives. Contractors often see positive results when they’re able to educate clients as to the potential benefits of efficiency improvements and serve as resource for those homeowners just coming onboard to sustainable remodeling.

For instance, a case study performed by the Department of Energy on Strand Brothers Inc. in Austin, Texas, found this company was able to nearly double its earnings from 2005 to 2008, in part by focusing attention on a whole-house heating and cooling efficiency strategy. And those efforts came, in part, through contractor education—every service professional that works for the business must undergo the National Comfort Institute (NCI) Air Balancing training. While that’s just one case, the findings illustrate trends manifesting across the remodeling industry—namely, the expansion of markets into green retrofits and the need for accountability and training as an essential part of this shift.

Positioning Contractors as Innovators—and Capturing New Markets

Green building standards for new construction have received much more attention than retrofits for existing homeowners, according to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of evidence sustainable construction is where the industry is headed. The U.S. Green Building Council predicts that green building will account for over a third of all U.S. construction business by 2018, representing a value of $190.3 billion in labor earnings.

Those two facts together seem to suggest there’s room to expand into environmental retrofits. Green businesses have a unique position from which to approach their marketing and PR. In the remodeling business, recycling debris offers a huge opportunity to make an impact, since almost 90 percent of construction waste can be salvaged according to an Arizona Public Radio report by Justin Regan. And recycling is a concept that homeowners may be familiar with and implement in their own home. Small Business Trends also points out that, while many companies have some sort of green policies in place, few make it a point to emphasize their efforts in their branding. And marketing is now more important than ever to local contractors.

Energy Efficiency as a Motivating Force

According to materials from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), studies have shown homeowners are 16 percent more likely to agree to be contacted by a contractor after they receive a home energy score—a score used to evaluate a home’s energy efficiency. According to the Department of Energy, remodelers are uniquely positioned to tap into the home efficiency market. They already have access to customer’s homes and can evaluate and up-sell additional services.

Remodelers who have been properly trained to recognize problem areas can help homeowners prioritize repairs into the most urgent and those that can wait. Not only does that help cement client-contractor trust, it can also be the basis for a long-term relationship with continuing projects.

Intrinsic to this concept is the idea of the homeowner as a long-term partner, meaning energy efficiency training programs may have the additional effect of shifting younger remodelers’ focus to relationship building and earning repeat customers. As long as improvement recommendations are handled ethically, what’s good for contractors usually benefits homeowners, as well. For instance, a duct insulation project can potentially reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 30 percent—an ongoing utility savings. And the more money homeowners save the more they’ll have available for eventual projects, making green projects a smart investment for homeowners and contractors alike.

 

Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, Texas, where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.

Modernize is a driving force in online lead generation-connecting high-quality local contractors with homeowners looking to complete home improvement projects of all kinds. Modernize also focuses heavily on making things energy efficient through sustainable home improvements such as solar panels and upgraded roofing. Learn more about Modernize and how to get involved here: https://modernize.com/contact.

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