Contributed by Sonja Gustafson:
One of the great things about home building is the lively stream of passers-by who offer encouragement, ideas, and remarks about the project. By far the most encouraging comments from people who stop are along the lines of “we’re so glad you didn’t tear this down and build a skinny tower” or “we appreciate that you’re keeping the original style.” Thanks for that!
And when we painted the exterior of the house, this too generated a stream of comments from neighbors and visitors. The color scheme was a mix of a vibrant green with an orange/red accent. A few of us on the team were pretty enthused about the colors, but on the construction site the comments ranged from “I love it!” to “truly horrid” and even a clever “Oh, but I thought you wanted to sell the house.”
Back at the G2B Homes office, we began a vigorous discussion, which in itself generated Sam’s recent blog post about our color choice. But despite the fact that we actually liked these colors, we needed to address the obvious issue that many neighbors - people who would be living near and seeing this house every day - did not. That matters to us. We didn’t want to present a product that would distract discussion from that which we get most excited about: driving efficiency in existing buildings while ensuring quality, innovation, value and good design.
There were pros and cons to re-painting. Obviously, the pros would be that we could remove a barrier to market acceptance (“make it look better”). The cons were significant: not only was this going to cost us time and money, it also meant covering new paint. The obvious wastefulness in this was troublesome to us. We are, after all, a BuiltGreen builder, and now faced the tension between waste and an attractive, salable product.
So we decided to bring the debate back to the neighborhood. If we really needed to make a change, why not engage the very people who had a strong interest in the aesthetic of their surroundings? We printed up flyers, got up on Facebook, invited people to engage, and held a neighborhood open house to let them decide the new color! Over 40 people showed up, took a look at our swatch display, and voted. The winning color is great – we didn’t vote ourselves, but it was our favorite – and it is going to go up soon.
This entire debate – both within the team and with the local community – was so valuable and engaging that we are going to offer neighborhood input in every project. We will select a palate of options and then take it out to for a vote (before the first coat!) The result is neighbors participating in the improvement of their community. What fun!
We’ll continue to use tools to help make the process fun and efficient. If you want to follow the action, be sure to become a fan on our G2B Homes page on Facebook.
Contributed by Sonja Gustafson:
What is Your Monster?
Last night was a beautiful Halloween evening; the sky was clear, the air crisp, and my neighborhood was alight with various ghosts and goblins going from door to door. Then today came with gloomy grey skies and drenching rain, and we are faced not with the costumed monsters of our children, but the more terrifying specter of a cold, dark autumn.
This reminds me of a recent podcast I listened to where the narrator was working with his 5-year old daughter to caulk their home’s windows against drafts coming in. The daughter watched silently as he ran the caulk along the window seams, and as their work progressed, finally asked, “Daddy, do you really think this will keep out the giraffes?”
I love the thought of that girl working out the problem in her head: there are giraffes that want to come into our home! Daddy is trying to protect us! But really, how can this silly gummy stuff keep those monstrous animals out of our house?
Maybe we all have huge monsters in our minds that are keeping us from imagining how simple it really is to “keep out the giraffes.” Or maybe it’s difficult to imagine how something as simple as caulk can make such a big difference in the comfort of a home. And yet, take a look at the chart below to see how many areas of our home can be made more weather tight with the some simple attention. Each of these represents an opportunity to make your home more comfortable while saving money on utility bill.
Now wielding a caulk gun to ward off the drafts is not the only way to fight the energy monster, but it is one of a number of simple things you can do today to make your home more energy efficient. In the spirit of easily keeping out the giraffes/monsters out of your home, here are 5 simple things you can do to ward off the cold and save on your energy bills:
5 Things You Can Get Done Today
And then you’ll be keeping out those giraffes
The Green Canopy blog is written by our CEO and Culture Curator, Aaron Fairchild, as well as our staff and a few very special guests.