Arlington, Va., May 5 – When it comes to defining what green building can mean for your business, Corinne Asturias, a consumer strategist for Minneapolis-based Iconoculture, told more than 250 remodelers at the Remodeling Leadership Conference that knowing how green your clients are will, in the long run, generate more opportunities for your company.    

Asturias said "Shades of Green" factors can help housing industry pros determine "what it is that is making people behave the way they are behaving" in terms of sustainable living. Asturias described five factors that influence the "Shades of Green": sociological, technological, economic, environmental, and political.

Using these factors, the consultant classifies homeowners into a number of groups. Knowing which of these groups your customers fall into will help you tailor your green message and your offerings.

The first group is the "Extreme Greens," those who value change, commitment, and creativity. These consumers also are influenced by success and their own personal politics.

"Health Seekers" are focused on family and cleaning up the planet. They value safety, wellness, and good health. "Their radar is up because you can't put a price on the safety of your family," Asturias said.

The next group, "Money and Autonomy," includes people who already own Energy Star-approved products and appliances. These folks rate practicality and thrift as their top values.

According to Asturias, the "Conservationists and Preservationists" group centers on conservation while valuing authenticity, environmentalism, and preservation. Some in this category she labels "Green Rednecks," who also believe that we need to focus on making better use of what the environment provides for us.

And lastly, because every set of cliques needs a group of cool kids, is the "Green-Sheen" or "Eco-Chics." "Sustainability is seen as a style statement," Asturias said of this group, which values status, a sense of belonging, and, for a lack of better terminology, being "cool." Imagine a designer jean ad featuring a shirtless twenty-something male and a minor reference to going green, and you've found the target Eco-Chic audience.

Asturias concluded with a recommendation for remodelers who are considering green practices. "Avoid a holier-than-thou approach," she explained. "It is a process to become greener. [You don't want to] go green overnight." In other words, if you haven't dipped your toes in the green pool, strap on your water wings.

The annual Remodeling Leadership Conference is hosted by Remodeling magazine, a sister publication of Green Products and Technology.