“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
It’s a message we can all take to heart as we grapple with how to market products, goods and services to the ever expanding green economy, especially the green building sector. And it’s been a problem since the early days of the movement.
When we started offering media services to companies interested in the green building arena we assumed, like many others encouraging sustainable business, that our major concern would be “greenwashing” by those who would over-promise and under-deliver, folks who would exaggerate claims about the environmentally friendly aspects of their offerings.
However, what we actually encountered was quite different. We rarely came across manufacturers who deliberately inflated their stories but quite the reverse. There were, and still are, serious concerns on the part of many that they will be challenged by skeptics, called out very publicly if they make claims they cannot categorically prove.
That fact, as much as any other single reason, may explain why third-party certifications and approvals have gained so much importance in the world of sustainability. It is one thing to say you’re green yourself; it’s quite another to have an endorsement from a trusted outside source.
But not every product or system has access to accepted criteria, testing and verification. Those tools simply don’t exist in every case. And that leaves companies wondering how they can safely get their message to potential customers.
Enter Shakespeare’s underlying message…
The rose is not sweet because of what it’s called. The rose is sweet because of what it is. Sustainability is not just an ingredient, a feature or an attribute. IT is an outcome, an added benefit, a by-product of doing something well.
“Green” building is quality building, and green products are – more than anything else — quality products. You don’t have to call them green, just build in the right ingredients: responsible materials and processes, durability, resource efficiency, water and energy savings, response to indoor air/environment concerns. Build in the quality and value, and that is the story you need to tell. The green message will take care of itself, and your success will smell just as sweet.