AZGreen Magazine - The First Issue 2010

Page 12

12 l digital preview be that gleaming solar panels now rival a shiny new Ferrari as the ultimate neighborhood status symbol? Peer pressure can be a very powerful force, so much so that respected social psychologists and behaviorists have devoted research to the topic. Dr. Robert Cialdini, a distinguished graduate research professor of social psychology at Arizona State University and author of bestselling book Influence: Psychology of Persuasion, co-authored studies examining the effects of social influence regarding decisions to conserve energy. One study titled “The Constructive, Deconstructive and Reconstructive Power of Social Norms” examined behavioral changes among utility customers who were given feedback about their utility use compared to that of their neighbors. Another, “A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels,” compared reactions of hotel guests asked to help conserve energy by reusing towels. Both studies concluded that, when given feedback indicating how one’s behavior measured up to that of others, people were more likely to respond to the energy conservation requests if their peers did.

contributing to the grid in Cave Creek, Arizona – and remains occupied by a very gratified homeowner. During the recent subprime market crash, when new homebuilding came to a screeching halt, Edwards’ green luxury homebuilding business remained more stable than their conventional counterparts. The economic downturn was also accompanied by an onslaught of media coverage about energy efficiency, followed by an unprecedented demand for green housing nationwide. According to Edwards, referrals have increased. “New clients often call us after touring homes of their friends and learning that living sustainably doesn’t mean giving

that many builders have been reluctant to absorb. In recent years, the availability and cost of sustainable building materials and energy efficient elements has become more competitive, more closely aligned with their conventional counterparts. “I believe that, given the choice with a solid set of facts to evaluate, most people would opt for a green home, even if it meant a slightly higher price,” said Edwards, acknowledging that the slightly higher price is actually a drop in the bucket for most of his clients, and with cost offsets such as lower utility bills and federal tax incentives, practically negligible. He explained that making clients aware of the tangible benefits of a carbon neutral lifestyle was key to guiding their decision to live in a sustainably built home. “When I speak with clients, they get excited by the notion that they can be part of the environmental solution. I think most people would willingly step out of their comfort zone if it meant they could set a positive example and feel as though they’re giving back.”

Achieving a sustainable lifestyle requires little more than a shift in consciousness – becoming aware of how our habits affect our families Arizona’s first straw bale home features a cooling tower and venturi air-flow design for maximum cooling. The home’s plenum concrete flooring and two-foot deep walls and neighbors with whom Peer influence is gaining provide superior insulation matched by its dramatic design and luxurious sturdiness. we share a planet, as well as credibility in corporate a willingness to apply that boardrooms as well. Green up luxury or diminishing their quality of awareness to our habitual way of living. Nurture, an Arizona-based consultancy life,” said Edwards, noting that he has We have a moral obligation to reset our firm offering corporate employers a recently received numerous calls from standards to suit the environment, as software system designed to generate people requesting green renovations and opposed to upsetting nature to suit our enthusiasm among employees about additions. “Even subtle adjustments that standards. Of course, as more of us adopt sustainable office practices, has seen can vastly reduce our environmental sustainability, others are likely follow suit. a significant turn-around in offices impact require no real sacrifice in lifestyle. striving for carbon neutrality. The basic “I think people are beginning to realize In fact, the health benefits of a sustainable premise includes setting up reward and that living sustainably is a matter of home can potentially improve the quality recognition for employees that comply doing the right thing, not just for the and duration of our lives.” with company sustainability initiatives, environment but for the health and future Edwards’ sustainable homes dot some of which motivates change by offering some well-being of our families,” said Edwards. the most prestigious addresses in Beverly friendly competition and peer pressure. “I’m convinced that the good feeling that Hills, Malibu, Scottsdale and Sedona, and comes from setting a positive example Findings these studies and consultancies remain home to some of the country’s of environmental stewardship is a very have in common are that effective most admired personalities. His clients, powerful motivator.” leadership comes by way of example. for whom cost isn’t an issue, offer living Therefore, it is logical to ascertain that as I’m convinced that watching others set proof that ultra-green homes can be as people begin to really see the advantages a positive example is also a powerful or more luxuriously satisfying than any of living sustainably by watching those motivator. We admire people doing palatial residence out there. So why isn’t they’d like to emulate, perhaps the the right thing.  Invariably their actions every new home built sustainably? greening trend will gain more traction. have a ripple effect. As the demand for “One reason more luxury homes aren’t sustainable luxury increases, builders may I was curious about whether that built sustainably may have more to be more apt to adhere to greener standards phenomenon is at play in the business do with the builders than it does the as well. Perhaps, as we see more highof green luxury homebuilding so I asked homeowners,” noted Edwards, who end homes being built with sustainability award-winning green architectural explained that, until recently, building a in mind, other homeowners may become designer and builder, Doug Edwards of sustainable, energy efficient home from green with envy  — the environmental Edwards Design Group in Scottsdale, the ground up required extra planning due kind  — and inspired to follow in their Arizona, whose first net-zero luxury to limited availability of materials, as well neighbors’ carbon neutral footsteps. home built in 1974 is still net-zero and as additional work and increased expense

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