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Business Advisor

How to Sell Green Upgrades: A Few Small Things

Part 7 of a series explaining the art of selling upgrades to environmentally conscious customers

QuietRock looks almost like typical drywall — but it helps cut down noise transmission through the wall.
Image Credit: Tommy Strong

Offering your client small upgrades that have tangible green benefits for them (and profit opportunities for you) always makes sense. And when your business is not as strong as you would like, it becomes even more imperative that you not let these opportunities slip away.

Here are two of my favorite easy-to-sell small upgrades that can improve the performance of your home and make you extra money to boot.


Install QuietRock in lieu of typical drywall wherever you want to keep out noise. The master bedroom is a great place to start, because we all want to have a quiet room to sleep in at the day of the day.

Look at your exterior walls to see if they are adjacent to a basketball hoop, a garage band, your air conditioning unit (or the neighbors’ unit), and install QuietRock on that one wall. It will simply make a huge difference.

Your labor costs to install it will be the same as regular drywall, but you should earn a good mark-up on the increased cost of the product. We have always applied a flat rate charge of $200-$400 (depending on the size of the area) on top of the additional materials cost. Not a lot of money to the client, but a little extra profit for you and a whole lot of benefit!

Factory Primed Wood Window Frames

Boy, if this won’t save you a ton of time and hassle in the field, then nothing will. Do you prefer for your painters to prime the wood frames on site, or do you prefer installing factory-primed windows? And what costs more — the $25 to $45 upcharge per window from the window company or the $75 to $100 charge from your painter?

And with all due respect, who does a higher quality job applying the primer, in all the nooks and crannies, with no primer on the hardware? Of course, the factory-applied primer saves you time in the field, is a higher quality application, and costs you less. You should explain those benefits to the client and mark that line item up accordingly (100%) in your window package.

Oh yeah, what makes factory primed windows green? Well, many programs recognize components that do not require finishing in the field are green because finishing processes at the factory are more resource-efficient and it is easier to reduce and capture the overspray. Also, exposing your painters in the field to primers can be a health risk, and you have responsibility for dealing with the overspray and solvents used to clean their equipment.

So don’t forget, like in baseball where you can swing for the fences or remember the basics and play small ball: the same goes for residential construction. You may occasionally make a lot of money upgrading a roof, insulation, or appliance package. But you have to be able to play small ball as well — and that means understanding the value and having the skill to sell the small basic upgrades that the client will understand and see benefit in purchasing.


  1. user941025 | | #1

    Doesn't selling to the
    Doesn't selling to the consumer generally involve supplying him or her with credible independent testing data supporting the claims of the stuff you're trying to upsell?

    I'm a homeowner. I pay for the work on my house that I don't do myself. Would I pay more for special gypsum boards that are clearly proven to work exceptionally as part of a soundproofing strategy? Absolutely. Would I pay more if all I got were the link to the manufacturer site that you've provided? I really doubt it. Others may feel differently.

    Any strong data you can share? I'm anxious to read it.

  2. Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP | | #2

    Strong data on QuietRock
    Sure Minneapolis be pleased to. As you can see from the link the data is provided by the company but if you go to this page you will see one of several reports they have commissioned by independent third parties. And I can tell you anecdotally that it works and has worked for us for many years.

  3. user941025 | | #3

    Thanks, Michael. I'm looking over the test results for the tone generator with QuietRock in various configurations and since I don't see a dB attenuation comparison to regular drywall, 1/2" or 5/8", in those same configurations for the range of frequencies, it's unclear what the benefit is. But, it's not my blog, so thanks again for the link.

  4. 9XBiNUysjE | | #4

    Visible Upgrades
    Thanks, Michael. We have been following your series at Green with Envy Home Store and have noticed an interesting trend with our clients. It is much easier to sell a visible upgrade in this economy compared to insulation or wallboard. Many of our clients are concerned about a healthy home and future resale value. A simple question: What is a better ROI for the client?

  5. Michael Strong, LEED Associate, CGP | | #5

    What is a better ROI?
    Wow Norman! An impossible questions to answer I am afraid. Every homeowner defines ROI differently. We have installed solar PV when the payback would be 20+ years down the road, We are installing an electric car charger in a home today when the client does not even own an electric car-but they think it will help resale. Then again we have had clients upgrade to voc-free paints when another client wouldn't. If it is typical ROI meaning financial return ONLY then my experience shows insulation and high SEER ratings (I'm down in the south) each and every time. That gets the quickest payback each time. Plus both result in a cleaner, quieter more comfortable home.

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