Rob Freeman Jr.
President, Green Buildings Online, Inc.
As our world’s population grows, adoption of green building rating systems, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), can only increase. But the growing demand for sustainability is only part of the story behind LEED’s potential staying power… Indeed, it’s the business enhancements, combined with LEED’s sustainable focus, that give LEED the greatest chances for long-term success.
For example, building owners see LEED as an appealing marketing tool that can increase building value by approximately 11%. Tenants are attracted to LEED buildings because they see that increasing employee productivity by just 1% can reduce their costs by up to $1.30 per square foot. The building construction industry is also finding new revenue streams in sustainable building products.
So if you are part of the building industry, how do you get started and participate in the business of sustainability?
Start by Getting to Know LEED
Learning how LEED works is the best way to kickstart your business’s green marketing efforts. Think of LEED as a lens through which your business can be viewed using an established sustainability framework. LEED uses a points-based system to award tiered levels of certification to buildings that fulfill different credits and prerequisites across several categories of sustainability. The main categories are:
- Sustainable sites
- Water efficiency
- Energy & atmosphere
- Materials & resources
- Indoor environmental quality
- Innovation in design
Once you know where your business fits within these categories, you’ll need to craft your sustainability message and present this information in a clear and organized way on your website.
Only Seconds to Connect on the Web
With social media everywhere, and everyone’s face planted in a mobile device, you only have seconds to make a connection with someone. People scan articles online, but rarely read. Indeed, because online media feels so fleeting, there has never been a greater opportunity to show you genuinely care about a customer’s time by delivering what they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible.
While every site is different, your sustainability information should generally be at the top of your homepage and easy for visitors to navigate to.
Offer an obvious menu item called “LEED” with two dropdown menu options that read “About” and “LEED Credits.” Your “About” section is an opportunity to educate new visitors, provide an overview of what LEED is and explain why sustainability is important and relevant to your business and industry. In your “LEED Credits” menu item, you can get specific and describe which credits and prerequisites your products or services are appropriate for.
Visitors to your site who are familiar with LEED may be hoping your product fulfills a specific credit, and making it easy to find this information will leave them with a good impression.
Explain in plain English how your product or service can help and why. For instance, if you are in the asphalt business and offer pervious paving solutions for roadways, your product could help an architect or developer earn credits in the “Sustainable Sites” category of LEED. In this example, you might go into detail explaining about the importance of mitigating water pollution and reducing stormwater runoff and how your product does this.
It is important to note that while green building products themselves are never LEED certified, misinformed customers may still insist that they need products that are LEED certified. This is a common misconception. Indeed, “How do I get my products LEED certified?” is a question that is often submitted to us on our LEED education site, Green-Buildings.com.
Of course, if you aren’t sure how your product fits, and don’t have time to research every LEED rating system, there are experienced LEED consultants who would be eager to help. As we believe this is a growing field, we recently launched Poplar Network, to make it easier for people to find experienced green building professionals with a particular specialty or geographic focus.
In addition to being clear and using simple navigation, establishing trust is critical to creating a connection with a potential buyer.
If your company has been involved in LEED certification projects, put those examples front and center, explain how your employees contributed and, whenever possible, include a case study about how your product was used. Describe the project in detail and ask to interview the architect or designer who chose your product and what was achieved by using it. Simple, honest words from customers can also be very helpful and case studies give you an opportunity to tell a story.
Of course, these are just a few things to consider when crafting your website’s sustainability message… but by considering your site’s organization, content and reputation, you’ll be making it simple for visitors to find what they’re looking for, regardless of their level of knowledge.
And hopefully they’ll feel good about your company as a potential solution and you’ll create a new connection with a customer.