December 10 -- Counter to current economic indicators showing that this is the worst time in decades to be a home builder, Ft. Worth, Texas, builder Don Ferrier is seeing swelling demand for his high-performance houses.
“We’ve had three times more design clients this year--in a down economy--than we have seen before,” the owner of Ferrier Custom Homes told attendees today at the Ecobuild Fall Conference in Washington, D.C.
Ferrier attributed some of his company’s success to soaring interest in eco-friendly homes: “Green is hot,” he said.
Environment-focused stories are in demand by local and national media and Ferrier said his company has capitalized on this. “High-performance homes are high-publicity projects,” he said. Stories about his award-winning projects have appeared in Consumer Reports, O at Home magazine, and The Dallas Morning News, and on NBC Nightly News.
In 26 years of erecting high-performance homes,
custom builder Don Ferrier has come across many
green products and technologies.
Here are a few of his favorites:
- Structural insulated panel building systems: “In terms
of building systems, SIPs give you the most bang for
your energy efficiency buck.”
- Spray-foam insulation: “It’s amazing how it seals
- Brizo ultra-low-flow faucets.
- Formica countertops: “They’re Greenguard-certified.”
- Termimesh environmentally friendly termite
- Pella awning windows.
- James Hardie siding.
- Icynene spray-foam insulation.
- Demilec spray-foam insulation.
- DuPont FlexWrap flashing tape.
- Daikin heat pumps: “A Japanese product that’s so
advanced the U.S. doesn’t know how to
rate the SEERs on them yet.”
- Sherwin-Williams Harmony no-VOC paint.
- FLOR modular carpet tiles.
- Toto dual-flush toilets.
“Our homes are doing our marketing for us,” he said. “We couldn’t pay for that type of publicity.”
His company has received even more notoriety by earning the Energy Value Housing Award five times and winning the NAHB National Green Building Award in 2007. He urged attendees to enter their projects in similar competitions.
But the true measure of a builder’s success is happy homeowners, and Ferrier said he works with clients to strike a balance between their hopes for a sustainable, energy-efficient home and the realities of their budget. “Our challenge in any high-performance project is bringing the two together.”
The demand for energy-efficient homes is driven by consumers, not builders, said Ferrier. For example, he is a big fan of insulating concrete forms (ICFs), a building practice that provides higher R-values and lower air infiltration rates than typical wood-frame construction. “But there’s a learning curve with them, so many builders resist learning about them,” he said.
It’s only when clients demand this type of technology for their homes that builders get on the bandwagon. “I’ve seen a lot of this driven by clients,” said Ferrier, who has been building green homes since 1982.