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Green is dead

If you are thinking of becoming an environmental contractor, forget it, there’s no point. The market has disappeared.


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September 24, 2012 by Robert Koci

It’s been a good run for green. It came into fashion in the 1970s, pushed by the oil crisis and the fear that we were heading towards a new Ice Age. Back then, it was mostly pollution that concerned us: dirty air, dirty water, dirty streets. Few businesses were interested in marketing themselves as environmentally-friendly. Cleaning up was a job for governments.
But over time, environmentalism began to sound good to consumers. Today, businesses are investing billions of dollars to convince us that their products not only solve a particular consumer problem, but are also “good for the planet.”
Over the last decade, many renovators and custom homebuilders have focused their efforts on becoming green builders. At Canadian Contractor, we began to publish our annual Green Report, which brought you up-to-date on green products and green building techniques. And some customers began to shift their priorities: they began to pay more money for green products.
And then came 2008. Holding onto our jobs became much more important than whether our carbon footprint was big or small. Stephane Dion and the Liberals were trounced in a federal election after threatening to hit us all with massive carbon taxes. The dissolution of the Kyoto protocol followed. Then came leaked emails from scientists proving they were more interested in protecting their careers than telling the truth about global warming. Quietly, consumers have walked away from green.
It still makes sense to build energy efficient buildings that reduce running costs. In fact, that will be the only lasting legacy of the green movement. But to be a “green” contractor? Forget it. It won’t earn you a nickel of extra margin or income. Nobody cares any more.


Robert Koci

Robert Koci

Rob Koci is the publisher of Canadian Contractor magazine. rkoci@canadiancontractor.ca Tel. 647-407-0754
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8 Comments » for Green is dead
  1. Brian Baker says:

    Not sure I agree with your comment that green is dead. I would however agree that green no longer makes green because consumers are demanding that all products be green whatever that is? Green is still all shades with no real definition and therefore in the marketplace the confusion this adds pushes the consumer to simply demand green at no added cost to them. Ventilate right, build tight. The other issue is that consumers tire quickly of new movements that do not show them any personal return and while they may say they are socially responsible at the end of the day it is WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

  2. Reg Gallant says:

    You may be right about the building industry but youu are giving a totally wrong message about the enviroment. With places like china and and India becoming high volume consumers the earth is more and more quickly heading for the big enviromental crunch.

    • Steve Payne says:

      Reg, according to my Associate Publisher, the world is NOT heading for a big environmental crunch notwithstanding those 3 billion people you mention about to start consuming like we do. Maybe Mr. Koci can explain his delusions further, but I shudder to think what he’ll post next.

      • Robert Koci says:

        Well thank you for speaking on my behalf, Mr. Payne. In actual fact, I do think the world is heading for a big environmental crunch. The difference is that I don’t think the environmental movement is doing any thing to stop it. In fact, they are making it worse by dragging out the completely false accusation that increases in CO2 in the atmosphere and the continued use of fossil fuels is dangerous to our planet.
        It is quite the opposite, but environmentalists can’t break away from their politics long enough to see the mess THEY are making of the planet by supporting such costly and reckless initiatives as the production of Ethanol, which actually burns more CO2 than it saves.
        In the mean time, some very real dangers, like the use of dangerous chemicals, the proliferation of waste and urban sprawl are being left unchallenged and technologies to take REAL care of the planet are ignored.

      • Herve says:

        I have to agree with Robert Kocci on some of his points. The environmental crunch is a concern and things that bring about increasing sustainablity are paramount. Distracting from the truth is the game now being played to assume that we believe that something is being done to improve the situation. Burning of fuel, it being from fossil(?) or other wise, may not necessarily be the solution with sustainablity. Other technologies are now available, yet remain undeveloped for the simple reason of economics rather than of actual reason. Free energy is available and has been for decades, yet the energy sector continues to keep unavailable for not being able to meter it as they now do with all other sources now being used. If, and only if for once, we decide to take the responsilblity to be the change necessary for all the ills of this planet so that our children are not set to be responible for our irresponsiblity, maybe we can say with belief that we have contributed to this host we up until now have only exploited without so much as a thank you. Even if we come to believe that we are doing everything possible, we have but scratched the surface of what is possible if we have the desire to do so. We have made a mess of things both economically and environmentally and have denied responsibility. Let us begin to repair what we have caused. Let us think and lead rather than stick our heads in the sand and follow. We can provide to our children a world of abundance without denying ourselves what we want. We can be the change we want by taking full responsibility. If we don’t, who will. Do we want our children to be that and how will they if we show them otherwise? It is our mess, let us clean it up!! Our host has given to us all that is necessary to live abundantly. It is up to us to leave it better for our children.

      • Bruce MacKinnon says:

        I’m shocked that Rob made logical sense about this one. He and i have gone around and round about this topic before but this reply I agree with.

        Alarmism is ok if you are sounding the alarm for the right reason. It’s a moot point about who is causing what, especially if you ignore the increased sun spot activity and how it is playing havoc with our environment.

        What we need are real-world solutions and not hype tinged with cynical politics and the desire to impoverish first world countries for countries who don’t care about said environment.

        The entire “Green” movement should be discussed in terms of cost and energy efficiency. Sell people on long-term energy savings and higher-class work and you will get more than the nebulous “feels-good” Green movement will ever give you.

        Most customers will pay for superior work and long term gain, not higher cost for Green products to ease their guilt manufactured by environmentalists.

  3. John Dyck says:

    I don’t think that is entirely the case. I was involved in the “EEE” energy effiient double wall homes built in the 70’s ( in Manitoba ) I think in MB people squeeze the dollar a little tighter than we do in Alberta. Here we “just pay the bill” and move on. I don’t think people have that mentality in MB! But saying that, I recently built a 2000 sq foot spec home and when I tell potential customers that my highest gas bill last winter was $69, their ears perk up! – I may have sold several homes due to my low heating bill.

  4. Peter Goulimis says:

    If people think they can “walk-away” from GREEN INITIATIVES, Environmental Awareness, Carbon Reductions, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Efficiency & Conservation, THINK AGAIN! Has the average person not heard the latest news about Polar Iceshield Reductions in Antartica & our very own Arctic? Have they not heard of and seen the satelite imagery showing the “shortening of the Arctic Winter” and the effects that are CLEARLY VISIBLE now only because we have the satelite imagery over a 30 year period to dramatically show it by comparison that is in plain sight? Or that fossil fuels (at least the product that is relatively easily accessible) will be in short supply within 100 years? Do we have to be choking in our pollution? Frying up due to Ozone layer depletions? Starving due to dramatic and accelerating climate change caused by GLOBAL WARMING for us to get it? Everyone SHOULD watch Dr. David Suziki’s Nature of Things latest series this Fall about our connection to the Earth and all of its component’s interdependancies to realize that GREEN matters and TIME IS RUNNING OUT before we reach the tipping point of NO RETURN and then no amount of Technology or Conservation will help us because this species will go the way of the Dinosaurs and just as quickly! No I am not a Tree Hugger! I am a father, husband and Green Builder that knows that every part of society in every corner of our Earth had better start taking steps to curbing what 100 years of Industrialization has patterned as normal so the reversal & hopefully self-healing processes that the Earth is capable of can begin. BUT IT NEEDS OUR HELP.