Who Drives Change?

Have you ever stopped to wonder how real change comes about?

According to marketing experts, most new products are picked up by people referred to as “early adopters.” These consumers like to be out ahead of the curve, don’t mind a little risk, and–most importantly–think independently. They’re not influenced by the status quo. Early adopters document the truth and spread it to the masses.

We’ve all completed difficult projects, then later discovered a new tool or method that would have saved time and effort. Unfortunately, construction remains one of the greatest defenders of the status quo. Change comes painfully slowly and, for the most part, only when drawn into the market by the end user. Construction is very much a “pull” rather than a “push” market. Rarely do you see builders bringing the latest and greatest to the table.

Think about house framing, which hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Think about home insulation; the bulk of the market is fiberglass batts, which have been around for more than 60 years. These two components make up the structure and energy efficiency of your new home–with technology that’s decades old! What other areas of your house use technology that old? Is it because nothing else is available? Is it because no other alternatives have been approved? NO. For instance, I happen to know of some pretty easy-to-use, energy-efficient structural insulated panels!

There are many improvements available to the current standard of stick building and batt insulation. The question then becomes, “How do we get these technologies into the mainstream?” The answer is an educated consumer. Do your Google research about SIPs and other alternatives and bring the data to your builder. Ask him why he’s not using more modern techniques and technologies like structural insulated panels. If he refuses to listen, move on to someone who WILL do the research and listen. Remember: The consumer drives change, so let’s get behind the wheel.

Mortgage Risk Shrinks with Energy-Efficient Buildings

So it’s not just me. Jen Alic, a blogger for The Christian Science Monitor, says, “Here’s some new impetus for those sitting on the fence over household energy efficiency: The risk of mortgage default is one-third lower for people with energy-efficient homes, according to a recent study.”

The research by the University of North Carolina’s Center for Community Capital provides the first real academic link between mortgages and energy efficiency, but it proves my favorite point: SIPs and other smart energy-saving features just make your financial situation better.

In the study, houses with lower HERS scores showed a lower mortgage-default risk. After all, when you save hundreds of dollars on energy costs each month, it becomes much easier to make your mortgage payments—and still have money for other priorities.

Homes built with Thermocore structural insulated panels consistently score lower on the HERS index. A normal HERS rating is 100; the Energy Star standard is 70. Bart Rynish of Barton Designs achieved a HERS rating of 35 with Thermocore SIPs. After Art Smith of Rocky Ridge Designs received a HERS rating of 67, he found that his SIPs home actually consumed less than half the predicted amount of energy in its first year.

Despite what some may say, building with structural insulated panels does not cost more than traditional building methods. There are so many reasons to build green. Now we have proof that using SIPs and other energy-efficient features also protects your mortgage.