A new infographic report by the Shelton Group on American attitudes towards sustainability provides valuable insight into how builders, designers and real estate professionals can more effectively sell zero energy homes to their clients.

Americans and especially millennials, according to the Shelton Group report, are genuinely concerned about climate change and are committed to sustainability. But they are not putting their values into action. According to the Shelton Group, there has been a shift in attitudes and beliefs for the better when it comes to the environment,  but it does not extend to people taking action on those beliefs. “As awareness of environmental problems increases, some people feel unequipped – those problems seem just too big and scary,” says Shelton. “Consumers wonder how they can do anything that makes a difference.”

Think, Feel, Do is a new report from Shelton Group that describes the disconnect between consumers’ desires and their actions along with methods that businesses can use to bridge the gap.

This disconnect between Americans’ values and the actions they actually take – or don’t take – provides important insight into how to best sell zero energy homes in America. It also provides a valuable opportunity. Knowing that their clients need help in connecting values to actions, zero energy home builders, designers, and realtors can be proactive about demonstrating  this connection to their clients. According to the Shelton Group, “when it comes to sustainability, connecting hands to heads and hearts requires external factors [and] in the current U.S. political climate, government is playing less of a starring role here than it may have in the past. That’s a huge opportunity….because more and more often, companies and brands are seen as the power players in sustainability.”

They also found that even though Americans aren’t really changing their personal behaviors regarding sustainability, they are changing their buying behaviors. And that gives companies with sustainable brands a new way to win in the marketplace. The great disconnect between values and action and the preference to express one’s  values through buying behaviors offers a great opportunity for selling sustainable products including zero energy homes.

In other words, clients who value sustainability need real estate professionals, builders and designers to guide them to connect  their values with their actions by choosing to buy or build a zero energy or zero energy ready home, or to remodel their current home to be closer to zero. Here are some suggestions for ways to help clients align their values with their actions by changing  their home buying behaviors.

First, be a role model by integrating sustainability into your own life and business. Drive a hybrid or electric vehicle and brand it with your business name. Upgrade your home and/or office building with energy efficiency improvements and solar panels. Move your business towards becoming a zero energy operation. Be passionate about what you are doing and communicate that clearly to your clients and other stakeholders. Let them know through your website, social media, and other marketing efforts that you and your company are on the path to zero energy and that you are designing, building and/or selling the most advanced sustainable homes available. Telling your personal and/or company story about moving towards zero  can be a powerful way to connect with potential clients.

Second, give your clients the tools they need. Your clients want to do better – and they know they should do better – but research shows they are not changing their personal behaviors. However, they are willing to change their buying habits. And that gives you and your company’s brand “a new way to win the marketplace,” according to Shelton. “You can give them what they need to make a difference – and make it easy for them. Help your [clients] be their best selves.” Here is how:

  1. Focus on designing, building, and/or selling sustainable zero energy and zero energy ready homes and feature them on your website. Let your clients know that buying a zero energy home is a powerful choice that will make it easy for them to align their values with their actions.
  2. Make the value proposition clear and guide them through it step by step: You no longer have to be concerned about your values and actions being out of balance. Your new home will be healthier, quieter, more comfortable, more durable, and carbon neutral – or close to it – and it will cost less to own. With this home you can walk your talk and feel good about your choice.
  3. Frame the decision to buy a zero energy or zero energy ready home in terms of ease: Our home will take care of you and your family  – not vice versa – and it will take care of the environment, too.

Please use the comments section below to share what sales approach has  worked best for you.


Note: The featured photo was provided by Jim Smith who developed a zero energy business model as a broker with Golden Real Estate in Golden, Colorado.