Navigating Post-Pandemic Residential Green Building, Part 1

The ability to assist and guide homeowners in establishing priorities–and the value of their choices and decisions–will be a competitive advantage for green builders in the next few years. 

The next few years will be important ones for sustainable builders. Significant technological developments and advances are being made in numerous areas that can affect green building in a positive way. At the same time, these advances can make it even more challenging for our homeowners/clients to begin their projects.

Current market studies reflect recent changes in the financial markets, and related effects on residential construction. Now more than ever, homeowners will value green builders and architects who understand how the homeowner’s choices, decisions and concerns reflect their value in the design and construction of their homes.

Navigating the Post Pandemic Residential Green Building market

​​Not all people who initiate building projects know how to make them green—or the benefits of doing so. That becomes a builder’s job.

Few projects are 100 percent green or zero percent green, so the ability to help homeowners establish priorities and values for their decisions will become a competitive advantage for green builders in the next few years.

A key to establishing value with potential clients includes the ability to help them deal with their upcoming, complex set of choices and decisions. This may be their first time undertaking such a complex set of related decisions with financial ramifications. They will value your ability to help identify opportunities and priorities for their project.

Help Homeowners, Help Ourselves

People and companies who initiate building projects are not always aware of all of the possible ways “to make their building green,” or of all the benefits of doing so. We have ongoing opportunities and reasons to keep ourselves up to date and to inform our clients and potential clients about the benefits of green building. 

Because each building type is almost its own mini-industry, there may be practices within one type that aren’t common in another. We can learn how the new ones interact with the building owners in their building type.

Architectural Engineering Consultants and the Building Industry

As an architect, I’ve had the privilege of being involved in a wide range of building types. This gives me a fairly broad perspective of how the industry functions. I have a very familial attitude toward all members of the building industry—professionals, tradespeople and students from end-to-end of the building process and in a number of building types.


An architect’s success in green building starts with helping customers understand the benefits of sustainable construction. 

The building industry is one of the oldest, largest, most-diverse and most-important ones on Earth. We communicate across an industry that has been described as “somewhat tribal” because its separate professions and trades have their own histories and “language” of specialty communication

Apprenticeships, training and learning-specialized unique language, tools, and knowledge of the specialty are often required. Understanding and respecting the building industry is our best approach to successfully improving it.

Improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of inter-industry communication can help each profession and trade succeed. This is actually a necessary component; new tools and an increase in “interoperability” will give us the opportunity to accomplish this.

What All Building Types Have In Common

At the top of the agenda of all building types should be, quite simply, to make full use of the tools, technology and knowledge available to us; to create buildings that improve the sustainability of the planet and the sustainability of humans—in other words, green buildings. This perspective allows such construction to contribute at a significant level, to all building types.

The first order of business is to clearly understand how to best engage and incorporate our clients in sustainable construction at the beginning of our projects. This will contribute to our successes in green building.

Some building types have an advanced, sophisticated and formal initial phase. They have a clearly stated Request for Proposal (RFP), which explicitly describes the project, and identifies and defines its requirements, phases, and deliverables.

Many hotel/resort projects are excellent examples of a building type that has well-developed standards in the RFP phase through completion of project. This is particularly true among the major hotel development brands. 

Many government projects also follow strict guidelines and procedures for procuring architectural, engineering and construction services for a wide variety of building types, from offices to veterans’ hospitals and military facilities. This guidance is beneficial to the client and the AEC by clearly defining the project and its requirements.

Single-family custom homes where homeowners/clients are directly involved in initiating and participating in the planning and design are probably the least formal example of how a building-type begins and applies a clear procedure to the process.

There is no “standard” RFP method. It can vary depending upon the homeowner, the site location, requirements of the local building and planning department, and other factors. Personal knowledge, experience and familiarity with local requirements are all significant.

Combining Homeowners’ Value With Our Building Knowledge

Guiding less-experienced clients through the process takes skill and talent. It can, in many ways, make the project easier and better for the builder when based on proven building industry experience and practice. The better this process is communicated to the homeowner/client, the better it is for project’s outcome. /p>

How we customize each customer’s sustainable project should reflect our collective experience and knowledge of what makes such a project successful. That is what is built into the Client Engagement phase of other successful building types. 

This story is part of a special report presented with generous sponsorship from: ProVia, Whirlpool, Cultured Stone, and Sonos.