Selling energy- and water-efficient products

Michael Gray's letter to the editor that was published in our November 2010 issue garnered a big reaction, both pro and con. Mr. Gray wrote that he wouldn't be renewing his subscription to CONTRACTOR because he couldn’t relate to green products and projects, most of which he considered to be a monumental waste of effort and money.

Michael Gray's letter to the editor that was published in our November 2010 issue garnered a big reaction, both pro and con. Mr. Gray wrote that he wouldn't be renewing his subscription to CONTRACTOR because he couldn’t relate to green products and projects, most of which he considered to be a monumental waste of effort and money. We've run your letters in response to Mr. Gray's letter in our January issue and in this issue (see Letters & Opinion). A number of them wouldn't pass any test for civility, including Mr. Gray's.

When you get past the vitriol, the anti-green sentiment boils down to, "Nobody will buy this stuff," and "it's a fad."

I'm sorry but I have to go against you on this one. If you don't want to sell high efficiency products, that's ok. Carry on. If you're interested in selling water- and energy-conserving products, we hope you're paying attention, because in the months and years to come, we're going to teach you how.

Before you dismiss out of hand the people and organizations devoted to water conservation, energy conservation, and green and sustainable construction and service, consider for a moment who they are.

Walmart, which is in the process of greening its stores and has a goal of using 100% renewable energy.

The United States Army, which is greening its facilities at home and abroad and transitioning to solar and wind power because fuel convoys get shot at.

Most of the members of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers; the society continues to tighten the energy requirements in its landmark Standard 90.1 and has issued a separate green Standard 189 for high-performance buildings.

The American Society of Plumbing Engineers, which conducts webinars like Solar Thermal Technology and Inside the Green Codes.

Members of both model code bodies who have worked on the IAPMO Green Plumbing & Mechanical Code Supplement and the ICC International Green Construction Code.

The Radiant Professional Alliance, which has long promoted the efficiency of radiant heat.

The Mechanical Contractors Association of America and it Education and Research Foundation, which has issued reports such as "Water-efficiency Technologies for Mechanical Contractors: New Business Opportunities," and the "Green Associate Training Module."

Countless contractors that we talk with such as Dave Yates, Dan Foley, Brian Nelson, and Eric Aune, who sell, install and service high efficiency equipment.

The manufacturers, their engineers and trainers who devote their careers to water and energy conservation.

That's a quick list just off the top of my head.

And the situation in this country is not going to get better. You may have heard recently that the former CEO of Shell Oil is predicting $5 a gallon gas. Imagine what that will do to the cost of heating oil, and it will probably drag natural gas prices along with it. Dave Yates has often written about the impact of electricity deregulation in Pennsylvania. Significant parts of this country are in a state of continual drought. Shortages of water and energy can't be wished away.

There may be some contractors out there who doesn't understand the technology and don't know how to sell it. We intend to change that.

Dave Yates has indicated he is up to the task of showing how to do this. He also has the advantage of being a working contractor.

"I've had great success selling 'green' technology and I often have the highest bid," Dave says. "99.99% of contractors fail to garner their fair share of bids for high-efficiency equipment because they stop after presenting the installed price. The customer gets sticker-shock and sees this as just a commodity issue — a price-based judgment call … I know that going in and I prefer to be the last one in line. Why? Because I know the primary objection will be my installed price, I need a hook. That 'hook' is achieved by taking the potential customer on a trip down three lanes: education in layman's terms about the equipment; benefits gained with the equipment I'm proposing; and lastly — the projected long-term operating costs with annual fuel-cost (including electricity) inflation."

Dave's secret is that he never sells payback. He sells Return on Investment. He'll show you how. Stay tuned.