Meeting Your Buyers’ Sustainability Needs

It is important for builders and developers to communicate the fiscal and environmental benefits of an energy-efficient and sustainable home

By Linda Mamet

Homebuyers have become savvier in what they want and need in a home, and builders need to meet the challenges of this growing trend. TRI Pointe Group has developed strong relationships with manufacturers and suppliers allowing us to increase our knowledge about what’s new on the market. We then pass that knowledge onto our architects, purchasing and construction team leaders, and trade partners as they build with and install these new products.

There is increasing interest among homebuyers for products and technologies that produce high-performing and sustainable homes. TRI Pointe delivers our LivingSmart® program in order to meet our commitment of providing some of the healthiest and highest-performing homes in the industry. This comprehensive program was created 15 years ago by Pardee Homes, a member of the TRI Pointe Group. It involves the development, design, construction, and ongoing operation of high-performing homes, resulting in cost-savings for our homeowners and a better living environment for their families.

Smart living: Through the LivingSmart® program, homes are branded, designed, and independently tested to meet or exceed local energy codes. These homes are enhanced with money-saving, energy-efficient features throughout. The simple, yet effective names of each of the LivingSmart® programs convey the importance of these features to our customers.

For example, HealthSmart® assures healthy indoor air quality through the use of low-emission carpets, countertops, and windows. EnergySmart® reduces energy use through advanced construction techniques for the building envelope and the addition of solar and ENERGY STAR® appliances. EarthSmart® includes products or practices that relate to recycling and using fewer resources. Finally, WaterSmart® helps reduce water consumption with low-flow devices and drought-tolerant landscaping.

Beyond the usual: TRI Pointe Group’s family of builders is reaching beyond LivingSmart® to provide information, savings, and education to buyers. TRI Pointe Homes’ Southern California Division introduced high-performance insulated stucco at its Grayson community in Santa Clarita, resulting in energy efficiency for the homeowner. In Arizona, where the hot climate translates to high energy costs, Maracay Homes is focusing on its HERS ratings. An online tool allows homebuyers to compare and contrast a Maracay floorplan’s HERS rating with that of a typical pre-existing home. In California, Pardee Homes’ Inland Empire Division is translating the sometimes-confusing mechanics of a home’s performance with fun and informative facts, figures, and messaging in their model homes to help buyers understand how the homes operate and will save them money.

Telling the sustainable story: Some sustainable and green items are standard and others are optional, depending on TRI Pointe Group’s home building division and community. At Pardee Homes’ Inland Empire Division, standard features include, but are not limited to, a solar panel lease program, radiant roof barriers, fluorescent lights, and ENERGY STAR® appliances. Low-VOC materials such as carpets, windows, paints, cabinets, and countertops are standard as well. As LED costs drop, Pardee will soon start installing LED lighting as another standard feature.

Customers are willing to pay for some amenities, but not others. For example, a radiant roof barrier is a popular amenity because customers understand how it helps protect their home and provide better insulation. This is something that potential homebuyers can easily understand and appreciate in hot climates where Pardee and Maracay build, for example. Tankless water heaters are also popular because buyers understand how they work and how they can help save money and energy.

Many of TRI Pointe Group’s buyers see value in recycled kitchen cabinets, low-E glazing for windows, radiant roof barrier sheathing, carpet made from recycled materials, low-flow water devices, and drought-tolerant landscaping. The green lawns that were once a badge of honor are being replaced by drought tolerant designs that conserve water. This is especially true in the western region of the country. With the drought in California strangling the water supply, water efficient yards are a huge advantage for us as a homebuilder and for many of our customers.

To be successful in home building today, builders and developers need to stay abreast of new sustainable products and technology, including costs and how the technology performs in a home. This success will be enhanced when builders and developers foster strong relationships with suppliers and manufacturers. In addition, it will be important for builders and developers to communicate the cost/benefit ratio of energy and water efficient technologies with their buyers. Before deciding to buy a new home, buyers should be well educated not only on the products that make their home energy efficient, but also on the significant utility savings and benefits of a more comfortable, healthier new home.

Linda Mamet
is Vice President of Corporate Marketing at TRI Pointe Group. She may be reached at