Just don’t call them green

Parr Lumber, a 39-unit chain of western lumberyards, components plants and cabinet outlets in fivewestern states, has started a new initiative that combines sustainable building materials, energy efficiency and installed sales. The prodealer’s “High Performance Homes” program is an innovative shade of green. But don’t call it that.

“We’re trying to remove the word ‘green’ from our vocabulary,” said Nate Bond, director of sales for Parr Lumber. “Building green has become too complex, [so] we’re trying to simplify the process.”

High Performance Homes is being marketed as a building envelope that controls heat, air and moisture. Parr Lumber will design, build and deliver the shell, which will meet or exceed the criteria set by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) criteria. Customers also have the option of a high performance turnkey package that includes windows and flashing, air barriers and weatherization systems, sealed ductwork and thermal insulation.

Either way, Parr works with a builder’s plans to incorporate best building practices and energy saving products. Customers are given a checklist of LEED criteria that each building satisfies.

The $433.6 million prodealer, which ranked 20th on HCN’s Top 350 Pro Dealer Scorecard in 2007, rolled the concept out at a meeting with customers in December. This coming spring, Parr Lumber will build its first models with a local builder.

The High Performance Homes concept resulted from a demographic study conducted by Parr Lumber last year on what will drive the next building boom. The Hillsboro, Ore., pro dealer, which does business in Washington, Oregon, Utah, California and Arizona, discovered two different groups of “green” customers: Baby Boomers worried about utility bills, and Gen Xers concerned over global warming. Both groups wanted to consume less energy.

“With High Performance Homes, a builder can brand themselves in either direction,” said Bond. Parr also plans to offer training to home builders’ sales agents so they can better explain the advantages of a High Performance Home.

Parr Lumber is not new to the green building movement; it began selling FSC-certified lumber in 2004. All 26 lumberyards in the chain are part of the company’s “Get Real!” program, launched last October, that tags and promotes products that are recycled, sustainable or energy efficient.

Consumers and contractors often find themselves flummoxed by the many green standards and certification, Bond explained. Parr didn’t want to sort it out or make en dorsements, so the company includes products that fit the criteria of FSC, SFI, Green Seal, Green Guard and other certification bodies. It lists supporting documentation on products and agency resources on its Website, getreal.parr.com. Walk-in customers can find the same information in electronic kiosks located in the stores.

Parr Lumber has converted 60 percent of it motor vehicle fleet over to biodiesel, with a 10 percent additional goal for 2008. Company officials have worked with Portland General Electric to convert 40 percent of its locations to PGE’s wind power energy program. Energy conserving T5 lighting has also been installed at 64 percent of its stores.