The following is an excerpt from the Opening the Door to Green Building Study, a research study analyzing market perceptions related to green building. Participants included representation from the building market (product companies, consultants, owners, developers, etc.)
The above word cloud was generated using the open-ended answers to the question, “What does green mean to you?” The responses were varied in terms of support for the word “green” versus concern for the how vague the term has become in not just the building market. The marketing and communications strategies within the green building market range from variants of efficiency concepts to environmental and social stewardship to the many permeations of the word “green”.
Because of the variety of vocabulary, it is critical to understand the perception or connotation around certain words in the market place. But knowing what motivates a buy is not enough: knowing how to communicate in a manner that will motivate that buy is critical, and language is important. According to the Building Owner and Real Estate Developer/Tenant Leasing/Finance categories “Energy Efficient” is the most effective term to communicate the green-building value proposition for buyers with 100% of owners and 79% of real estate professionals ranking it from Impactful to Highly Impactful.
A second question focused on how these same terms resonate within the market produced slightly higher results for each of the words. One respondent replied “Green and Sustainable certainly "resonate" with the market, but it is less clear what they are actually representing for many in the building market beyond marketing.” It would seem that the challenge for buyers is to wade through the marketing vocabulary to identify what is going to be most beneficial for their project. It becomes incumbent on service providers and product firms to resist some of the easy “green” branding/ messaging opportunities and focus on the genuine benefit in communicating to the buyer.