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Clients care about saving money. And they reward their contractors who help them save with loyalty and valuable word-of-mouth advertising. Keeping up to date on new high efficiency building products and technologies, and staying current with consumer trends is just smart business.

In a competitive world, satisfied clients and a good reputation are your ticket to running a profitable business. Many architecture and contracting firms have found that being knowledgeable about energy efficiency and environmentally-sound building practices is a powerful way to stand out from the rest of the pack.

Increasingly Americans are demanding bigger and bigger homes. According to the US Census Bureau, almost a quarter of all single-family homes are now over 2500 square feet. But even as the size of homes has continued to grow, concern for the environment is creating a widening “guilt gap”. Almost three-fourths of those surveyed in a Roper poll said they think they should be doing more for the environment. This trend is especially strong with the most well-educated and well-off Americans — those who are also the most likely to build or remodel their own homes.

With America’s environmental conscience driving people to spend more on a wide range of environmentally-benign goods and services, can any business afford to overlook this growing trend?

Here are some links where you can learn more about how to save your clients money and win their loyalty by offering them energy efficient and so-called “green” building alternatives.

A leading source of energy and environmental information is the non-profit organization CREST, the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies. To search an online directory of environmentally products and building materials, try the REDI database.

To keep up with the latest news and ideas, you can join a number of email lists and newsgroups with information for building industry professionals:

For free building energy analysis software and other online information and services designed for architects and construction professionals, try EnergyDesignResources.Com run by California’s utilities. The Department of Energy also maintains a list of current software related to energy efficiency and buildings.

For a large and diverse list of resources on energy efficient buildings, Energy Crossroads, maintained by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is a tremendous resource.

The California Energy Commission also has a site that may be of interest to architects and building industry professionals. You might want to check the Commission's Key Topics page. Title 24 information and forms are available on-line.

Pacific Gas & Electric offers a variety of design assistance resources, workshops, and an extensive library of energy efficiency references for the building industry through their Pacific Energy Center.

If you are looking for a bit of design inspiration, one of the best sites for online images of buildings is Great Buildings Online. For example, if you want to look up Frank Lloyd Wright, search by Architect and select the Falling Water. Different photos and free digital 3D CAD models are available.

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