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Green with opportunities

Ken Clark kclark@homechannelnews.com

A this booth in the International Builders’ Show, a purchasing executive with a top 20 prodealer explained that he had flown to the event with a briefcase full of green magazines and reading material.

Interesting reading? “There’s a lot to learn,” he answered, shaking his head.

No doubt about that. A couple issues ago in this space, Home Channel News predicted the green game would get more complicated before it gets less so. Now, I ’m beginning to second-guess that judgment. Will it ever get less complicated? Probably not.

And, is that such a bad thing if it doesn’t? I don’t think so. At the Builders’ Show (See special section page 17), the National Association of Home Builders launched its NAHB National Green Building Program, described as both flexible and verifiable.( How flexible? A 7,000-square-foot show home was deemed worthy of the program’s “gold ”level.)Home Channel News applauds this effort. Builders seem to like it. And, oh by the way, greener homes help us all inch closer to energy independence and environmental sustainability.

But what about LEED Homes? ENERGY STAR homes? Or the 80 different programs around the country certifying homes to one degree of green or another? Is a pro dealer who serves the builder going to have to hitch his wagon to one and hope that it outlasts the others?

There’s a new president coming to Washington, D.C. Do you think he or she might want to live up to campaign promises related to environmental protection? Voters seem to like the idea.

Competing brands and changing landscape help explain some of the wait-and-see attitude among many prodealers. No business wants to bet on Betamax, and miss out on the VHS standard.

For some prodealers, the idea of a “green” program seems redundant. “All of our lumber is green,” said one Indiana dealer. “It comes from trees.”

At Carter Lumber, president Neil Sackett sees the green movement as a major trend but one that has some evolving to do. “It’s the customer who is going to drive the direction of green building,” Sackett told Home Channel News. “And we’re going to be ready for him when he does.”

Smaller dealers are jumping in. Standard Lumber of western Michigan, a 12-unit chain of lumberyards and showrooms, is a 104-year old dealer that pledged commitment to the goals of the LEED green building program.(See story page 19)

Here’s the take-away. All this complication is good. It presents an opportunity for your customer to turn to you—the dealer, distributor or retailer—for help. That’s right where you want them.

Make no mistake: green product distribution and retailing is an opportunity for dealers and retailers to either beat the competition, or get beat by the competition. The green game is on. And it’s a marathon, not a sprint.