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Joshua Foss Thrives
You’re a green designer. You’re a LEED AP. You converse in “green speak.” Your portfolio boasts dozens of green projects, some or all of which are LEED certified. You’re on the circuit, a regular speaker at green events.
Now what? Will new clients come knocking in large numbers? Will they come to you only if they want a green project? Will they pay you more for your expertise?
For answers I turn here to Joshua Foss, designer, blog author, speaker and host of HGTV.com ‘Get Green’, as interviewed by Gail Doby at the Green Design Summit. Josh was raised in a very environmentally conscious home, studied fine arts and design, and developed a professional practice, Thrive Design Studio, around sustainability.
He notes that about 75% of his clients are already committed to the LOHAS (Lifestyles Of Health and Sustainability) philosophy and come to him for his green credentials; the others come on board once he proposes an eco-friendly option. “Who in their right minds would say no to improved air quality, lower utility bills and beautiful natural materials?” he asks.
The hardest sell may be green products because of their unfamiliarity and higher upfront costs. Foss states that he’s frustrated by questions about the costs of going green that he fields more often than he’d like. "I always respond by saying, how much does it cost not to go green?"
For example, he notes that some LED lamps cost around $80, a sticker shock that scares a lot of people, but the electricity costs savings over the bulb’s 100,000-hour life range from $400-$500. Designers need to sell those long-term benefits versus short-term savings. Also, a recycled glass countertop looks, performs and costs like granite, but clients aren’t familiar with the new material and will shy away. Going green, he advises, is all about the design phase and we need to strategize and prioritize with the client up front.
Foss sees green as innovation, change and evolution, as either being proactive and part of the solution, or reactive. “If you’re on the front end of this change it’ll create opportunity. If you’re on the fence…chances are you’ll be struggling for work. [Designers] should look at it not as a burden, but as something that’s fun, rewarding and a necessary change we need to make.”