Green Builder Seattle

The Nation's Oldest and Largest Local Homebuilder's Association Honors Green Canopy

MBA_Award

On December 5, 2017, the Master Builders Association (MBA) awarded Green Canopy and CEO, Aaron Fairchild the 2017 Built Green Moving the Market Award at the Master Builders Association Awards & Gala. Aaron and Green Canopy were chosen “for taking the step to build only net zero energy homes.” Founded in 1909, the MBA is the “nation’s oldest and largest local homebuilder’s association” and continues to move the industry towards greater innovation and sustainability.
 
“I’m extremely honored to represent Green Canopy’s team, owners and stakeholders in receiving this award from such an established and reputable organization as the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.” -Aaron Fairchild, CEO, Green Canopy Homes
 
“Aaron is an inspirational force in the Puget Sound area residential home building industry. He and his team continue to push the limits at the intersection of sustainability and business in new and exciting ways. I commend Aaron and Green Canopy for all they do for our association, our communities, and our region,” states Aaron Adelstein, MBA Director of Programs and Products. 

The MBA featured CEO, Aaron Fairchild, in the Master Builder Winter 2017 issue in the article, “The Man in the Green Hat.” Here is some of what they had to say:
 
“Aaron’s drive to transform the market is indicative of not just his desire to align business, community, and sustainability but of the work and thought that he puts into this effort. He is truly a leader in the regard, constantly innovating and aligning actions with his words. Aaron is a collaborator, mentor and leader all at the same time.” -Leah Missik, Built Green Program Manager
 
“The positive culture Aaron has cultivated resonates throughout his company, the Master Builders Association, and our region.” -Cameron Poague, Master Builders Association
 
“Aaron is the type of person who is actively changing home building for the better” -Cameron Poague
 
Also included in the article is a quote from Green Canopy Co-Founder, Sam Lai, “Aaron can seem enigmatic to some because he’s difficult to pin down. He is a disciplined business mind– as fierce and pragmatic as you would expect from a third-generation banker and Foster School MBA grad. Yet his unwavering passion for social and environmental justice seems counterintuitive… like the trucker cap on his head and Wendell Berry poetry on his lips. One way to understand my friend and CEO is that he is true to his heart and that’s what drives him. He has a vision to make the world a better place and the grit to execute a business plan to make that vision a reality.”
 
Green Canopy continues to be a leader in the housing industry, and in our city.

Marketing for Real Estate Made Easy

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Contributed by Krystal Meiners, Marketing Manager for Green Canopy, Inc.

Even though I am the Marketing Manager for a builder (AKA the Marketing GENIUS or self-proclaimed M-architect) – I don’t pretend to know the many nuances and facets of the WORLD of real-estate marketing and I don’t pretend to assume that we do a great job of it ourselves. What I do know is that we try really hard, and working with agents has given us a 1-up. From what I can tell marketing for real estate can get pretty complicated – and the rewards of your efforts are not always measurable.

To do it well, real estate agents have to be graphic designers, web designers, bloggers, social media gurus, public speakers, PR aficionados, salesmen(women), community activists, construction experts, design experts, neighborhood experts… the list certainly goes on.

What I also know – is that Agents have a world of tech at their fingertips to make their jobs “easier” (harder) and “less complicated” (super complicated). There are a million different ways to connect with clients and my feeling (totally un-researched) tells me that most of this is happening online.

In an effort to understand this phenomenon and to try and keep up with our Agent associates I have been trying to do more research. One of our Certified Energy Agents recently kicked this my way, and I have to say – I LOVE IT! These guys are apparently pretty hot in the real estate biz and they host an outrageous Google Hangout (yes people use Google Hangouts! WTF) about Real Estate Marketing. Their live video chats and interviews have been translated into iTune’s #1 Business Podcast - and for good reasons.

Chris Smith is entertaining and whip-smart i.e. not boring at all. So, take a minute or 45 and Watch/Listen/Learn about what you could be doing to boost your marketing efforts from these pros at the WaterCooler. Their live show airs every Wednesday evening at 9:15 EST and if you can figure out your Google+ Account, you can join them or watch them here.

You can also catch all of the past episodes on their Youtube Channel.

Our Colorful Debate

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.”

Oh.  Whoops.

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.

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Green Premium

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Contributed by Sam Lai:

Is there such a thing as a Green Premium?This is one of the more controversial topics in the residential green development realm.  From the residential green and energy efficient advocacy perspective, we all want the answer to be unequivocally "YES!  There is a HUGE premium."  Numerous  consumer surveys comport that a majority of Americans want green homes.  But I’m not so sure the "Green Premium" is the most accurate way to describe positive consumer response.

Let's start from what most people think of when we say "Green Premium."  For example, Joe the builder just finished up on an Energy Star-certified and 4 Star BuiltGreen-certified home.  Joe's home is at the tip-top of the local market in terms of marketable appealand functional utility.  There are plenty of conventional high quality homes that have recently sold in the immediate vicinity of similar design, appeal & functional utility for $815k, $822k, $830k & the highest sale in the area $835k.  Joe and his real estate agent decide that the home might be worth about $830k if it wasn't green.  But they decide that because there is a "Green Premium" of 6% based on a recent research study, the market value of the property should be $880k.  The definition of "Green Premium" from this example is the premium a green home yields above the competitive market.  This is a great way to not sell a house.

The question of whether or not there’s a “Green Premium” reminds me of a scene in a mockumentary movie “Spinal Tap”, where guitarist Nigel asserts that his guitar amplifier goes to eleven.

Every market has an upper threshold whether you call it 10 or 11.  From a valuation or banking perspective, if a home is superior to the rest of its market it is overbuilt because at some point the market stops responding.  Although most consumers in America desire green characteristics in their next home today doesn't mean that they throw all other deciding factors aside.  Green characteristics are weighed alongside all other distinguishable marketable characteristics including price, functional utility, aesthetic appeal and quality.

Speaking of quality, how does the market distinguish quality in residential homes?  I would assert that our homes can be seen as an emblem of the leading cultural values of the moment.  In 1999, common characteristics for what was considered high quality new construction home would be 5,000 sq ft of living area, master suite with whale size soaking tub, “drive-through” shower and of course a gourmet kitchen with Viking range and Sub-Zero refrigerator.  Shifting values of our time are reflected in the kind of quality buyers are looking for today:  energy-efficiency, ‘quality over quantity’ and low-toxic finishes.

So, is there such a thing as a “Green Premium?”  Or, does it go to 11?  Sure, call the “tip-top” whatever you want.  We believe that green characteristics will continue to be the hallmarks of quality in residential homes into the future.  We just need to remember that people primarily buy homes for location and you can’t just slap on a “Green Premium” and expect the market to agree.   Do you agree?

Our Pride. And Joy.

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Contributed by Sonja Gustafson:

This spring, after only 7 days on the market, G2B Homes entered into a sales contract for The Sequoia House!  The final sales price was within .05% of our listing price, so we essentially were able to command our price – an excellent indicator of market response to our product.

As a team, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the fruits of our efforts at taking a neighborhood eyesore and turning it into a lovely jewel of green and efficiency.  Not only is it aesthetically beautiful, the house was certified 4-star BuiltGreen and energy testing revealed a tripling of its per-square-foot energy efficiency!

I could go on and on about The Sequoia House (and encourage you to view our cool Before/After video here) and our innovative, sustainable approach to reviving homes in vibrant neighborhoods.

But what I’d rather reflect upon is the affect this project has had on our team and the full complement of specialists and tradespeople who worked on this wonderful home.  From our beginning “charette” meeting where we invited various experts to the house to give us their perspectives (captured in this KUOW radio story), to the local Eco-Building Guild seminar on air sealing, to the house color vote where 40+ votes were cast by engaged neighbors, the home became a place where people could come to imagine, design, learn, teach, and otherwise get involved in sustainable building. Some 86 tradesmen and women plied their skills during the course of construction, many of whom learned about advanced drywall approach, rain gardens, or solar hot water for the first time and can now employ these skills with future clients.

And it won’t be the last time.  Our team at G2B has proven to itself and to the market that our approach of turning existing homes green in healthy urban neighborhoods works.  It really works - seven days to sales agreement, solid pricing, happy homeowners, and energy savings of 15,000 kwH/year certainly support this point!

We are eager to get working on another home, and another, and another still.  Our team has spent the past weeks documenting best practices, finding ways to be even better next time, and getting ourselves ready to roll.  We are heading out to the investment community to raise the funds necessary to operate our company and bring it to scale.

And I just want to say what a joy it has been to work on this project with such talented and passionate people.   It’s a joy to make this one home consume a mere third of the energy it otherwise would.  It’s a joy to have created not just a house, but a home that a community has touched.  And it’s a joy to be working on sustainable, energy efficient housing in an era and community where these ideas matter.