At VSI’s Annual Spring Meeting in late March, Cara Vought, Technical Manager for Sustainable Solutions Corporation, shared some very encouraging news regarding a market segment that has become increasingly vital to the home building and renovation industry – millennials.
Also known as “Generation Y,” millennials have now aged between 25 and 40 years old, have grown to 25% of the population, and their purchasing power is estimated at $200 million annually (or close to $500 million annually when you consider their influence on their parents).[i] According to Vought’s presentation, millennials will remain the most affluent age group. And their purchasing power is influenced by three guiding principles:
- Millennials prefer sustainable brands
- Millennials will spend the most money on sustainable products
- Millennials are most likely to make purchasing decisions based on values that are both personal and social
These tenets have tremendous implications for the housing market, especially when you consider that almost half of the American architects are millennials (as Vought cites in her report using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). And despite their skepticism or neutrality towards corporate America, millennials still view companies as the best source for making sustainability happen in their lives. These companies should include manufacturers and suppliers of vinyl siding and home builders who choose vinyl siding if they are all telling the right story to this demographic using facts and science.
So, what could be more honest and more sustainable than vinyl siding products that are:
- made from natural elements (natural gas and salt) using co-extrusion and re-grinding processes that yield little or no manufacturing waste;
- have a longer life cycle and maximize energy efficiencies better than their exterior counterparts; and,
- have been the most recyclable cladding on the market for more than two decades
Millennials would also be impressed to know that the vinyl siding industry is united in its efforts to continuously improve its environmental practices through VSI’s Sustainability Committee. The committee has worked with Vought and Sustainable Solutions on life cycle analysis, which has revealed that the industry is leading the way in reducing carbon emission and water use.
VSI’s Sustainability Committee is also researching best practices throughout the supply chain to see if a model recycling program could be developed for the benefit of the entire industry. As part of their efforts, the committee is keenly observing the innovations of VSI member companies like Cornerstone Brands, which has made it a mission to eliminate waste factors before its products leave the plants. Another VSI member company, Kaycan, launched a GreenSENSE R3V program in July 2020, helping reduce unnecessary waste from local landfills.
Millennials would want to know that the vinyl siding industry’s commitment to recycling and sustainability is not some knee-jerk reaction to the latest consumer trends.
In fact, the vinyl siding industry introduced in-house recycling techniques to its manufacturing process as far back as the 1970s to eliminate waste and achieve greater landfill diversion. And the industry’s commitment to constantly improving these processes has paid off – of the 222.6 billion pounds of materials discarded into municipal solid waste in 2012, less than 1% was vinyl.[i]
In addition, millennials would appreciate how serious the vinyl siding community is about its certification processes for both products and installers, as well as its products’ superior wind resistance and fire safety performance advantages.
Millennials will also be pleased to learn that the vinyl siding industry actively promotes New Urbanism, a movement dedicated to preserving traditional neighborhoods and developing new ones using the same traditional neighborhood design principles that call for a front porch society with more diverse, sustainable and connected communities. Some of the leading New Urbanism designers proudly specify vinyl siding products for projects that would certainly be attractive to Gen Y. They even partnered with VSI to write a book, Architectural Design for Traditional Neighborhoods, published in 2019.
Superior products with sustainable benefits, a rich recycling heritage and outstanding design elements conducive to building stronger communities. This is a story that millennials will want to know about; about an industry they will want to support.
Don Browne is a writer, entrepreneur and local legislator who believes that the power of words can change the world. He provides unique writing services for clients in the construction, health care, IT and hospitality sectors. He has a passion for small business and start-ups, as well as writing about Irish history, family and corporate biographies. As a homeowner and father of four who is passionate about community development, Don looks forward to writing more about the exciting possibilities of creating traditional neighborhoods and more sustainable communities using modern materials.
 “Sustainability Drives Profitability: Millennials Research and Sustainability. Cara Vought, Sustainable Solutions Corporation. Presented at the Vinyl Siding Institute Spring Meeting, March 2021.
 2017 Shelton Group Special Report
 Futerra October 2019 Report
 “Recycling as a Sustainability Practice in the North American Vinyl Industry.” Richard Krock, The Vinyl Institute, Stephen Tarnell, Tarnell Company, LLC, 2015