Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

By Building Experts Team

In recent years, corporate social responsibility has moved from a nice-to-do on the part of some companies to a must-do for many, large and small alike. Some argue CSR is a distraction for other things that could be going on within a company or industry. How does this apply to the big builders?

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, “provides building owners and operators practical and measurable green (sustainable) building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.” Since its development in 2000, LEED has many rethinking the places they visit and live their lives.

Habitat Beyond LEED: What Home Builders are (Not) Doing to Better Communities

Aside from LEED, are builders doing much else to support their communities from a CSR perspective? LEED is certainly an internationally recognized bright spot for the industry’s CSR cause so Build IQ took a closer look at what the top three builders in the United States are (not) doing:

1. PulteGroup, Inc.

PulteGroup Inc. highlights concentration in internal (diversity & inclusion), environmental and charitable giving priorities among their CSR activities. The website notes following in the footsteps of founder, Bill Pulte, that “the company is committed to not only building better communities, but building a better world.”

Through charitable giving contributions, PulteGroup seeks to have the broadest reach possible with recent donations in recent years to a Virginia Tech Professorship Endowment for the Department of Building Construction; American Red Cross relief efforts; and Mercy Housing, a national affordable housing organization that serves nearly 55,000 people each day; among others.

2. D.R. Horton, Inc.

D.R. Horton is the only builder among the top three that does not proactively designate any area on their website to how there are bettering the communities where they operate.

In 2011, Horton unveiled a “micro-community” near Portland, Oregon called Division 43. Each home design is built with reclaimed and sustainable materials and share community resources. The community also boasts “reduced reliance on fossil fuels;” energy performance in focus areas of the home including energy efficient lighting, zoned heating and cooling, solar energy for common areas and ENERGY STAR® rated appliances, among other sustainable features.

3. Lennar Corp.

Lennar Corp. states the following community mission on their website regarding community involvement: “We believe in ‘doing the right thing for the right reason,’ and that we are responsible for giving back to our Community, quietly and without fanfare.

Where Lennar differs from Pulte and Horton is that they speak about their employees involvement in volunteerism. Lennar doesn’t simply just shell out cash or practice only sustainable building, they contribute personal time to programs such as Project Opportunity. Created in 1998, Project Opportunity is a unique partnership between Lennar, Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics.

Project Opportunity builds take place in one city where Lennar has homebuilding operations. “At each Project Opportunity build, Lennar Associates from all of our disciplines, build from one to eight homes in a one-week period in a local Habitat for Humanity Community, assisted by local Special Olympics Athletes.”

In short, yes the homebuilding industry is attempting to bounce back after a historic downturn but do you think they are doing enough in the realm of CSR? As these builders continue their way back, keep an eye on their CSR activities as they will not only look to increase their home starts, but at the same time look to re-establish their reputations within the communities where they do business.

By Lindsay Muller

iPadtop How Social Media and Technology Influences Consumers’ Perceptions and Remodelers Business PracticesIt’s no surprise that technology and social media have changed the way we operate as consumers and professionals, regardless of our age, line of work, or how many years of experience we have in a given profession. And, whether we like it or not, we all judge a book by its cover to some degree. For example, when looking for a job, it’s unlikely that we’ll jump at an opportunity if a company has no web and/or social presence. Likewise, when it comes to choosing a daycare, doctor, home remodeler, etc., we view a strong web and social presence as table stakes. Companies simply have to market themselves well online if they want to stay relevant. Now, this is not to say that a digital persona replaces the need for exceptional customer service and face-to-face relationship building (in many industries), but there is no doubt that savvy consumers see value in online and social marketing.

It is this dynamic that continues to change the remodeling and construction industries. While some contractors and remodelers may have simply relied on referrals to gain new business in previous years, our technologically and social media-obsessed world has created a demand for social marketing. But, the good news is that contractors and remodelers are taking notice and adapting to the changing needs of their consumers.

In fact, according to a recent study by Professional Remodeler, there was strong growth in all aspects of social media over the last year:

  • 62 percent of remodelers have a Facebook page, up from 35 percent last year.
  • 36 percent have a company Twitter account, up from 19 percent.
  • 35 percent of remodelers have a company blog, up from 20 percent.
  • 24 percent have a company YouTube channel.

But, having a social media presence is only one piece of the pie. Today, remodelers and contractors are using technology in many ways. Two of the most popular examples include:

  • Tablets: Gone are the days of lugging around a clunky portfolio. Today, contractors and remodelers are relying on tablets to share project photos and renderings with potential and current clients. More and more contractors are also using this technology in their purchase-decision making.
  • Smart Phones: More and more contractors are turning to their smart phones on jobsites, especially as companies like DEWALT launch apps designed to make their lives easier. DEWALT’s new Mobile Pro app for the iPhone, iPod or iPad allows contractors to perform hundreds of calculations in the field, with instant feedback. The app offers five basic calculations as well as the option of adding “packs” for hundreds of trade-specific calculations and reference materials.

How is your company responding to these trends? Are you embracing technology and sharing it with your customers? As we look into the future, what technology trends do you see on the horizon?

By Social Marketing Team

The biggest trend of this week cannot be anything other than the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. While it may be lacking the “newness” this year, there’s no shortage of technology.

We have been watching the show closely as each innovative technology was introduced this week. Here are the five products that captured our attention, products that will appeal to builders, designers and homeowners alike.

  1. Steelcase introduces media:scape mini & mobile, new tools that heighten collaboration & interaction. – Custer (@Custeronline)
  2. NetChef turns Android into a kitchen appliance – CNET News (@CnetNews)
  3. Dropcam’s Wi-Fi Video Monitoring Camera with Night Vision Provides Peace of Mind When On the Go – Screen Media Daily (@MotionStream)
  4. Belkin WeMo looks to make home automation simple, all controlled from your iPhone or iPad – iMore (@iMore)
  5. Nearly every device in your house, from your television to your refrigerator, is going to be networked and could very well be Android –powered – CNET (@CNET)

With so much news this week from the Show, what stood out for you?

By Building Experts Team

While we’d love to spend time (and fill pages) reminiscing about all of the highlights from 2011, it’s time to move forward. A collection of our experts have made some predictions for next year, looking at the trends in the industry, from media consumption habits to shifts in purchasing behavior. Right or wrong, we’ll have our eyes and minds on these topics throughout the year. (more…)

By Shawn Draper

Often the eternal optimist – I still vote for people running for public office – I look back on 2009 with a feeling of success. The housing market is righting itself after two years of decline. Strong, resourceful home builders, remodelers, contractors, and manufacturers used this past year to better hone themselves and, in turn, put themselves in a favorable position to succeed moving forward.

Now this is not to ignore the fact that many good people are out of work and that credit is still a big concern as we move forward. We still have much more work to do as we enter the New Year. This work is the next opportunity to do something significant in the year to come.

In 2010, I foresee social networking – the current term for one to one relationships – will change the landscape of building products distribution where manufacturers will be able to develop direct relationships with the trade and consumers to help them make product decisions. Social networking will lead the trade and consumers to help manufacturers develop better products and services. Of course, the manufacturers need to get on board the social network in a meaningful, strategic way today.

The New Year will have our industry move from green products and marketing to sustainable and high performance products, services, and marketing. No longer will it be good enough to simply reduce, reuse, and recycle. In 2010, we will look to life cycle management and high performance standards for our products. Ultimately, high performance products and building will be the standard where today it is the opportunity.

2010 will bring about a return to strategic marketing for all involved with the home and building industries. More than one manufacturer has shared with me the realization that the strategic marketer has been lost through downsizing. This is critical at a time when new media is changing decision-making and new building standards are producing growth in our industry. Add the demand for greater measurement, return on investment, and more aggressive competition across multiple industries, and 2010 brings opportunities to the businesses that see this turn of events now and put themselves into play.

So here is to the things we learned in 2009 and to the things we will accomplish in 2010. Happy New Year everyone!

 One Step Back and Two Steps Forward: Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010

Flickr user 2composers

The Best of The Best of 2009

By Building Experts Team

Do you enjoy reading year in review recaps and lists?  Well we’ve collected some of the best covering various topics, from business to social media, and all of the building industry categories in between.

Personally, I don’t like to spend too much time dwelling on the past year, or any of the past years for that matter.  Sure, you can learn a lot by looking back, but the future is ahead of us.

I once heard a wise man say, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.” That wise man was Mike Ditka.  Here’s to a healthy and happier 2010.  Lets get after it.  Now enjoy the recap.

What Twitter and Facebook’s 2009 Trends Tell Us About Ourselves

Dumbest moments in business 2009

62 Innovative Green Homes of 2009

place seattle 300x219 The Best of The Best of 2009

Place Houses Prefab in the Pacific Northwest

USGBC Announces Recipients of 2009 LEED for Homes Awards

9 Tough Breaks For The Housing Industry in 2009

The Year in Home Builder Buzzwords 2.0

Looking back at 10 housing predictions for 2009. How did they fare?

A turbulent year for the multifamily industry

Top Green Architecture Stories of 2009

wwwinhabitat 300x235 The Best of The Best of 2009

Credit inhabitat

2009 AIA Honor Awards

Interior Design Top News Stories of 2009

The 20 Most Popular Green Stories of 2009

19 Green Building Innovations of 2009

Top 10 Green Building Products of 2009

ENR Annual Photo Contest 2009: The Submissions

enr photo contest 300x214 The Best of The Best of 2009

Photo by Gary DeJolie

Digg’s Top 10 Most Popular Stories of 2009

2009 As Seen Through Twitter Hashtags

Facebook Memology: Top Status Trends of 2009’s 10 Most Read Stories of 2009

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