Credit: Courtesy Ferrier Custom Homes

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.

Ferrier’s Favorites

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:

“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.”

Instructing clients to think in terms of LEED for Homes’ “shades of green” scale, Ferrier urges them to choose the level of sustainability that will best fit their lifestyle and budget.

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.