Construction, Pricing and Lazy Consumers

Photo:peterandringa, Creative Commons, Flickr

I come from a family of construction and real estate gurus, so naturally the panel on green buildings at the AlwaysOn GoingGreen conference not only intrigued me, I even knew a little bit about the subject. Luckily it took place on the first morning of the event. The take-away is simple. There are two major ways to make construction greener. You can make changes to the architecture/design of the building, and you can make changes to the materials you use. For optimal green building, these two must compliment each other… while keeping pricing competitive with conventional methods in order to attract mainstream adoption.

In fact, price to the users was a chief concern of nearly every CEO at the event, regardless of product, service or end user. Onerous upfront investments or overall ongoing costs prohibit many individuals and businesses from making “green” choices. As such, several of the presenting companies offered solutions addressing cost. For example, a significant portion of SolarCity’s business is financing to customers in order to eliminate installation costs. EnerNOC’s business is based on saving money by more efficiently matching energy supply and demand.

However, one CEO offered the interesting commentary that green technology companies are gated much more by regulation than by consumer or company desires. Regulations should provide incentives for everyone – the green tech companies, along with the businesses and individuals using their products and services – to save and conserve energy and resources (as opposed to selling its unused portions). Consumers need measures and controls. We’re lazy.

Though I’m sitting in my office, I have the hall light on right now. And it may be an energy saver bulb, but with smarter devices in-home, the light would be off. I never thought about the concept of a switch-free automatic home comfort zone, but several smart green techies are.