How to Talk to Home Buyers & Developers (James Geppner & Zack Semke)

Room 2 • 2:00 – 2:30 PM • Friday, Oct. 19


Examining what occurs in the decision-making process of home buyers and developers can point to things architects and builders can do to get more people to opt for passive buildings. James and Zack will talk about two approaches to client meetings: one aimed at home buyers and one aimed at developers. Each takes into account key factors in the decision-making process of the client. The presentation will begin with a discussion of some of the basics of behavioral science and its relevance to the conversations between architects or builders and their clients. James and Zack will then describe an approach to meeting with home buyers that increases the value they place on air quality, noise reduction, resilience and other attributes of passive buildings. Finally, they’ll describe an approach to meetings with developers that helps to surmount an important barrier to adoption.

Again, who are the most likely buyers of passive buildings and how can we target these populations? Looking at key moments in the decision-making process can also help us identify likely buyers and give us a sense of the size of the market. This information can improve the effectiveness of the architect or builder’s meetings with clients and increase the number of clients who opt for passive buildings over the alternatives. James and Zack also expect it to increase the confidence of architects and builders for the near-term prospects of the market and their ability succeed within it.


Following his years in Project Finance, where he evaluated companies and studied markets, James Geppner advised small and large companies on what’s shaping a market or a behavior. Recently, he started to increase demand for passive buildings using behavioral science. He is currently developing tools to help architects and builders in their interactions with home buyers and developers—so they can be better at identifying likely buyers and get prospects to place a higher value on the attributes of passive buildings. He is a graduate of NYU and of SGIB’s investment banking program. He serves as Executive Director of


As Chief Marketing Officer of Nicholson Kovalchick (NK) Architects, Zack Semke develops and implements NK’s marketing and business development strategies to drive growth and support the firm’s mission. He oversees marketing, business development, PR, evangelism, and policy advocacy related to Passive House building design. Zack earned his BA from Stanford University in 1993, majoring in Human Biology with a concentration in Human Ecology. He began his professional career as the first staffer of the Coalition for a Livable Future, a Portland-based coalition of environmental, affordable housing, transportation reform, and smart growth advocacy organizations. In 2007 he earned his graduate certificate in design from the Landscape Institute at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. After a short stint as a designer he returned to his marketing and sustainability roots, joining Passive House builder Hammer & Hand as Chief Evangelist. Zack joined NK in 2016.