Blogs > Sara Gutterman > March 2012

What's in it for 'We'?

Today’s consumer doesn’t want more stuff. Rather, she is looking for meaningful experiences. She is searching for total value—homes and products that are high-performance, beautifully designed, sustainable, durable, and affordable.

Lowest cost is no longer good enough. She is a “practical purchaser”, blending moral principles with sound pragmatism. She employs blended values decisions that benefit her family, enhance her community, and serve causes that are meaningful to her.

Infused with the collaborative methodology of social media and the sharing economy, today’s homeowner has shifted her focus from ‘me’ to ‘we’. She has redefined the term ‘friend’ from someone who she spends time with weekends to someone (perhaps she’s never met) with whom she shares interests and values. She posts, tweets, blogs, and pins her own opinions and preferences with her friends, and she depends on these ‘friends’ for expert advice about products, places, solutions, and other key decision drivers.

Today’s consumer is striving for simplicity and meaning. She spends her precious time and money on experiences rather than stuff. Interestingly, she doesn’t always want ownership—she prefers access—so she shares products from cars to clothing.

She is wary of traditional marketing messages. She reads labels, looks for certifications, and questions the authenticity of claims. She actively participates in the creation of her world.

So, with today’s consumer’s search for purpose, desire for authenticity, and cautious skepticism, what’s the best way for building professionals and manufacturers to get her attention? What’s the key to effectively communicating with a consumer that wants to make more out of less? And how can today’s brands scale authentically to add value rather than just more stuff?

The answer is in co-creation. If participation is the new consumption, then the smartest thing that the savvy company can do is to dissolve the veil that separates the organization from its customer. Invite her in and let her get to know you—share your best and worst news with her. She doesn’t need you to be perfect, but she does expect for you to be honest. Empower today’s consumer with collaboration, citizenship, and co-ownership, and she’ll become your biggest champion.

What do you think is the best way to communicate with today’s consumers? Write to me at or follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @greenbuildermag for regular updates and breaking news.

Posted: 3/29/2012 12:31:18 PM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments

The Human Impact

The snow falling on the cedars outside of my window is, apparently, an anomaly. While I live far enough to the North to be caught in the cool air that’s swirling around the jet stream, eighty percent of the country is experiencing unseasonably warm weather, with over 300 locations reaching record-breaking temperatures over the past week.

I admit - I’m living a bit vicariously through those of you who are basking the sunshine, drunk with Spring Fever. But I can’t help but wonder - if we’re experiencing 80 degree temperatures in March, what will August bring? What will be the state of our water resource when the land is parched and dry, desperate for just one inch of rain or a hint of morning dew?

Will the cities that have saved money on snowplowing have the prudence to store their pennies for the time of year when they’ll need to bolster their riverbanks or quench raging forest fires?

What becomes of a community when tornado season is no longer a season, but an all-year reality? Will those community members be forced to live with a lingering sense of fear? Or will we as building professionals provide the foresight and leadership to fortify our homes, schools, and workplaces with strong, disaster resistant, durable materials?

Can we allow ourselves to move beyond the debate that our human impact has taken a hefty toll on our planet, and that there is no longer an economic, political, social, or environmental ‘normal’ that we can use as an anchoring metric for the future?

We are at a crossroads, and we have a very clear choice. We can stick our heads in the sand and ignore the realities of our world: that China and India are adding 10,000 cars each week to their roads, that we’ll have another 2 billion hungry mouths to feed by 2050; and that the number of people around the world using resources at a Western pace is growing significantly each day. Or, we can plan for the future, creating advanced technologies, responsible development plans, and conservation strategies that will use fewer resources and generate less waste.

Although it may sound trite, the long road ahead inevitably begins with a single step. So, as you’re out enjoying the balmy day, take a moment to look at your surroundings. Take note of something that strikes you—a special tree dancing in the breeze, a remarkable flower shyly unfolding its pedals as it experiences a newfound springtime freedom, a songbird that has returned home after a long northward journey. And then make the choice to protect it. It’s that simple.

When you look around at your environment, what is worthy of your protection? Write to me at or follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @greenbuildermag for regular updates and breaking news.

Posted: 3/15/2012 5:21:02 AM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments

SAVE Act 101: Everything you need to know

Einstein’s dictum, that we can’t fix a problem with the same mindset that created it, seems particularly apropos for today’s housing market. Building professionals and manufacturers alike are working harder than ever just to eke out a living.

While not a magic elixir to cure all of our industry’s ills, the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act sure feels like a step in the right direction towards changing the outdated mindset. Introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), this Act has the potential to transform the way green homes are valued for lending and appraisal purposes.

The SAVE Act is a bill with no downsides—the associated costs are nominal, and everyone seems to win:
• Homeowners will be able to obtain loan reductions and higher resale values for high performance homes, encouraging energy improvements, and, ideally, rendering cynic questions about payback periods for basic green upgrades moot.
• Builders will have the ability to recoup upfront investments that improve home performance through accurate and consistent appraisals, thereby providing incentive to construct enhanced structures and move away from poor decisions based solely on lowest upfront cost.
• After decades of inertness, lenders will be able to accurately project repayment risk, presumably enabling them to finally deliver on their elusive promise for green mortgages.
• Utilities will benefit from the reduction of demand on their already overtaxed infrastructure.
• The industry will receive a much needed shot in the arm from increased investments in energy upgrades, presumably resulting in growth and job creation for professionals and manufacturers alike.
• And the environment, possibly the biggest winner in this scenario, will finally find its place on our collective balance sheet.

There is a long road between the SAVE Act’s introduction and enactment. It’s important that we do not sit idly by and let the Act languish in the bureaucratic morass of contorted Washington politics.

On Wednesday, March 14, at 10 PT/1 ET, join the Green Builder Coalition, Leading Builders of America, NRDC, EcoBroker, Institute for Market Transformation, NAIMA, and Green Builder Media for the SAVE Act 101—a webinar that will outline what the bill contains, how it proposes to modify home appraisals, how it will benefit the owners and occupants of energy efficient homes, and how you can get involved in passing the Act into legislation. Register today at

Have ideas or want to learn more about the SAVE Act? Write to me at or follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @greenbuildermag for regular updates and breaking news.

Posted: 3/7/2012 1:39:28 PM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments

About Me


Sara is the Co-Founder and CEO of Green Builder Media.  An experienced entrepreneur, investor, and sustainability consultant, Sara specializes in developing companies that are simultaneously sustainable and profitable.  Sara is a former venture capitalist and has participated in a portion of the life cycle (from funding to exit) of over 20 companies.  Sara graduated Cum Laude from Dartmouth College and holds an MBA in entrepreneurship and finance from the University of Colorado.




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