The Value of Virtual Green Home Tours

Q-and-A with Julie Carrow

Sustainability and Green Building
Julie Carrow
Julie Carrow is director of special events at the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange & Chatham Counties in North Carolina.

You recently spoke to NAHB’s HBA Sustainability Network about your HBA’s Spring Green Home Tour. How has your upcoming event and last year’s virtual home tour engaged and retained members?

The pandemic has been hard on everyone, and associations have struggled with limited opportunities for in-person events. Our virtual Green Home Tour was a great marketing opportunity for our high-performance builders to showcase their homes during this time. By having Matterport virtual tours for each home, builders are able to be more engaged and interact with future potential clients in ways they wouldn’t be able to without doing a virtual event like this.

Whether you use drone imagery, a 3D tour, or a video, by offering these types of deliverables for tours, builder members can continue to use them longer term to market and feature their work on their own website. It gives them a tangible benefit that demonstrates the value of being an active and engaged HBA member.

With people being stuck in their homes a lot during the pandemic, we received plenty of reports that they appreciated the effort we put into the Spring Green Home Tour! Keeping up the momentum within our organization and getting members excited about the importance of their work has certainly helped us retain members.

How has your High Performance Building Council ramped up marketing for members who build high-performance homes? How have these marketing initiatives increased non-member interest in your HBA?

In addition to our annual Spring Green Home Tour that featured high-performance homes in the Triangle, we created and implemented an online marketing campaign to promote green home building and green home building products to consumers. Increasing awareness — both with the public and within the industry — is one of the top goals of our council.

By working to educate and increase awareness about green homes and products with the public, demand from customers helps to pique the interest of builders who weren’t previously active in the high-performance space. Our online marketing campaign helped to raise awareness about what’s happening in the industry and steer both members and non-members to our website.

Since the pandemic, what changes have you seen in demand for third-party verified high-performance home certifications and inquiries about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?

Our high-performance home builders have certainly seen an increase in consumers asking about building practices that address IAQ. Bringing everyone back to the building science basics about what practices help with IAQ can really help consumers understand how the home they are purchasing may help them live a healthier life.

Builders might explain the importance of bringing in fresh air when the homes being built now have a much tighter building envelope, but it is crucial to clarify with language that consumers relate to — for instance, talking through the fact that they may experience fewer allergies because there are fewer toxins in the home that are certified to a third-party verified high-performance program compared to one that is not.

What advice would you give on forming a High Performance or Green Home Building Council to help draw in new young members and green builders? Any lessons learned about what has worked and what hasn’t?

Educate ALL your members on the benefits and logistics of high-performance building. There is quite a bit of misconception that getting a home green certified costs a lot of money or that the public does not care or value the certification. This is simply untrue.

Also use your marketing dollars to educate the public on the savings they may have if they choose a green certified home. Pointing new green builders to events like the Spring Green Home tour or other educational outreach campaigns to demonstrate the value of getting involved with our HBA, and how it can help them with marketing, has also helped our recruitment efforts.