Over the past month, I’ve been prowling the websites of roofing contractors across the United States and Canada looking to see how they’re highlighting today’s many sustainable roofing options. The good news is the majority of websites I visited feature a link or page devoted to “sustainability” or “green.” But the bad news is that too many failed to offer the interest and excitement necessary to generate sales leads and customer inquiries. Almost all of the contractor websites I studied included the following sustainable roofing features — and drawbacks:

A commitment to sustainability. Although many websites state that the company is “committed to sustainability,” too many failed to provide any proof to support that commitment. However, the websites that did back up their claims offered some very impressive stories. Several websites provided case studies of the different types of sustainable roofs the contractor had installed (many on their own facilities), while some documented how many tons of roofing materials they recycled in the past year. Others provided stories of how the contractor participated in local social programs, and a few provided information about the contractor’s own green initiatives. Several websites featured the accomplishments of the company’s employees, referencing certifications such as Green Roofing Professional, LEED and AP.

A listing of sustainable roofing choices. Almost all websites provided a listing of the sustainable products and services offered by the contractor, such as cool roofs, green roofs and rooftop solar. However, very few sites included a truly comprehensive list of all the sustainable solutions a contractor could — and should — offer. Some of the important solutions frequently missed included roof maintenance (there’s no more sustainable roof than the one that doesn’t need to be replaced!), daylighting, recycling, ventilation, insulation and rainwater capture.

Many websites also failed to provide a compelling value proposition for each option. This is a critical mistake. Contractor websites need to identify the value of each sustainable option, such as energy savings, long-term cost reduction and improved building comfort.

A “Contact Us” link or page. Every website provided a way to request more information, but not all provided enticement to actually contact the company. Fortunately, there were several websites that offered inexpensive but attractive incentives to generate customer response. Some included offers for free inspections, while others included sustainable roofing brochures — many developed in conjunction with a roofing manufacturer partner. Still others offered lists of available rebates for green products or a free energy analysis.

Roofing contractors have made progress in capturing the business opportunity of sustainable construction, but as an industry we still have a long way to go. If you’re upgrading your company’s website, my modest survey would suggest the following features be included:

Back up green commitments with proof. Demonstrate how your company has integrated green practices into your daily routine. If you have a recycling program, provide the statistics and photos. Since you’re probably doing everything possible to reduce your energy and fuel bills, take some time to tell your customers exactly what you’re doing and how much you’re saving. Include any activities you’re involved in to make your community more sustainable, and tell how your employees are involved in green practices and certifications.

Don’t miss any sustainable (and profitable) roofing opportunities. Make sure you cover all the bases. If you install guttering, don’t forget to include the installation of rain barrels or how you recycle the old gutters. If you offer energy solutions for roofs, be sure to include all of the options, including PV, solar thermal, solar tubes and other forms of daylighting. Don’t forget to include product and insulation upgrades. Finally, and above all, be sure to include roof maintenance.

Include special offers or incentives to drive customer inquiries. Use key questions to evaluate the potential value of the customer. Do they need a roof in the immediate future? Are they looking for special services like energy retrofits? Do they need information about available rebates and special offers?

 I would encourage you to take a look at your website to see if it takes full advantage of the many profitable sustainable roofing opportunities available today. Also take a look at what other contractors across the country are doing. You may be surprised to see how many great ideas are out there. Finally, don’t hesitate to contact me with any new ideas that could be shared with the rest of the industry.