Building Innovation: dasHaus in San Francisco

Posted on Feb 24, 2012

Building Innovation:  dasHaus in San Francisco

Yesterday’s Net-Zero Conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco, part of the dasHaus sustainable construction showcase tour, was an interesting contrast of experiences, from the residential building challenges today, to the brave new world of leading-edge Passive House technology.

Brave new world first:  The technology presented, sustainable construction and operational energy savings innovation, includes an array of Passive House components at the leading edge of German construction innovation.  Products and techniques on display included super-insulation, triple-pane high-performance windows, solar control system and solar modules, including thin-film photovoltaic technology.  For those interested in the technology, there are events and tours of the pavilion through the weekend, and the technical information can be found on the dasHaus website:  http://sanfrancisco.dashaustour.com.  As California heads towards residential construction net-zero energy performance by 2020, the innovations presented are increasingly relevant to our building future.

Residential building reality check:  The marketing strategy and consumer insight messages stood out for me because it’s what we do for our clients.  Panelists, speaking on retrofitting versus new construction, mainstream acceptance of the Net-Zero Energy Home and Passive House included this important point among their comments:  you need to solve your consumer’s problems, meet their needs, and operate within their expectations.  Sustainable-practice builders report they still needed to compete with conventional builders on price and work with the conventional attractions of home finishes.  While it is possible to discuss alternatives and benefits, one must first win the customer.  While energy cost savings are remarkable with Passive House construction, homeowners may bring their old habits with them, diluting the energy cost saving advantages you provide to your customers.

Whatever innovations or regulations are on the residential building horizon, companies that work with a strong understanding of customer demand and customer service have a greater chance to succeed in the marketplace.

Tip: People love to talk about their feelings and preferences for home, features, builders and service – discovering what motivates your customer group is a first step any company can take.

What is your experience with homebuilding, customers and technology?  I would love to hear about your experience.

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