Now that the U.S. military is going full-on green, it's only a matter of time before before military personnel start carrying their sustainability mindset across to civilian life. In effect we've got thousands of green ambassadors cycling back and forth into every community in the country, cutting a clear path across party lines while helping to make new green concepts a familiar part of the American landscape. Businesses are already starting to take notice, as illustrated by Meritage Homes, one of the top ten home builders in the country. The company has just come out with a line of net zero production homes, and it chose to feature an Air Force veteran in its introductory press release.
Net Zero Homes and Solar Power...
When you mention a net zero home the first thing that comes to mind is energy (the military is also aiming for net zero water and waste at its bases, by the way). Meritage's press release lists energy efficient appliances, smart controls, insulation and other conservation features, and solar energy in its press release for the new net zero home, along with other green features such as eco-friendlier surface treatments. Its facebook page describes a solar thermal electric system from the company EchoFirst, Inc. The high efficiency system generates electricity and also captures heat from the solar panels, which provides hot water as well as thermal energy for room cooling and heating. Given enough sun and enough solar panels, you could potentially generate more energy than you need at home.
The Net Zero Revolution and Consumer Awareness
Net Zero is a brand new concept for many home buyers, and Meritage has chosen to tackle customer awareness head on. The phrase "Net Zero" features prominently in its ad campaign, and the company calls it the "Net Zero Revolution." If customers don't know what net zero is, they can figure it out after about about 30 seconds on the facebook page (thank you, facebook).
An Endorsement for Sustainability from a Green-Minded Veteran
Meritage's press release features a quote from an Air Force veteran, who along with his family is the first to occupy one of the new net zero homes. Regardless of whether or not the words were scripted (as is sometimes the case in press releases), the important thing is what the company chose to highlight in the release. The veteran states that he was house hunting with an "energy-efficient 'wish list'" in mind. Meritage did not have to convince him of the value of the home's features, because he had already done his "homework" and that's what he was looking for. It's not just an endorsement for the company, it's an endorsement for sustainability.
By featuring a military veteran, the press release neatly crushes any lingering social cliches regarding conservation and alternative energy (remember when solar was only for back-to-earthers and conservation was un-American?). It's a solid marketing move, and don't be surprised if we see more in the future.
Image: Net Zero Home courtesy of Meritage Homes.
Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.