REPRESENTING A QUARTER OF THE U.S. POPULATION, MILLENNIALS ARE THE NEXT BIG MARKET.Without question, today’s builders and remodelers need to be aware of the latest home styles in order to grow their business. After all, trends are the inspiration for home designs that sell — driving floor plans, color selections and product choices. But with a greater emphasis now being put on sustainability in home construction, how can builders merge great design with green design? The key is knowing who you are building for, what they want and how to make it happen.

Representing a quarter of the U.S. population, millennials are the next big market for builders and remodelers. Millennials have a passion for great design and personalization, but they also want energy efficiency. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), millennials say that ENERGY STAR certifications are a priority for them when buying a home. Those surveyed cited that they are willing to pay up to 3 percent more for an energy-efficient home that will cut energy costs.

“When it comes to exterior home design, today’s builders are confronted with a multitude of choices including siding profiles, window grille patterns, stone veneer styles, shutters, trim profiles and much more,” says Deryl Patterson, president and founder of Housing Design Matters Inc., specializing in residential architecture. “Builders and remodelers need to be in the know of what exterior products are currently on the market, what can help the homeowner save energy and what is low maintenance and durable.”

Exterior building products manufacturer, Ply Gem, offers these five product tips for maximizing energy efficiency, while keeping design and personalization of single-family homes top of mind.

1. Windows

With millennials considering outdoor living spaces to be essential home design features, one of the hottest trends right now is incorporating large windows and bi-parting patio doors, blurring the lines between the indoors and outdoors. With larger openings, it’s especially important to ensure a tight building envelope, using quality windows with Low-E glass. Low-E glass delivers comfort, reduces energy loss by up to 30 to 50 percent, creates less condensation and protects valuables from sun damage better than conventional clear glass.

Manufacturers like Ply Gem Windows, which works with a number of agencies and initiatives like USGBC, NAHB and ENERGY STAR, are helping builders achieve sustainable results without compromising design.

2. Siding

For eco-conscious builders and homeowners, vinyl siding is a high performance, environmentally responsible and design-friendly choice.

More than 300 colors have been certified for color retention, providing builders with a virtually endless palette of fade-resistant colors that meet the custom design preferences of any buyer. Partnered with complementary trim, accents and accessories, it’s possible to create a whole-home color palette that works together beautifully. Additionally, the texture and attention to detail on today’s siding panels make high-end vinyl siding REPRESENTING A QUARTER OF THE U.S. POPULATION, MILLENNIALS ARE THE NEXT BIG MARKET.nearly indistinguishable from wood clapboard, cedar shake shingles or other traditional materials.

Backed with polystyrene foam insulation, insulated siding is a highly sustainable option that can increase a wall system’s R-value, or thermal resistance.

The continuous insulation covers wall studs, helping to reduce the energy needed to heat or cool a home. In fact, ENERGY STAR and other programs recognize insulated siding as an approved material to reduce thermal bridging and, therefore, is included in the checklist of products that help homes qualify to earn the ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes label.

3. Roofing

Builders should consider alternative roofing products like engineered slate, which is sculpted to reflect the fine details found in natural slate. Engineered slate roofing products from Ply Gem are made of nearly 100 percent recycled resins and are much lighter weight, making for easier installation and using less fuel for transportation.

4. Trim and Accents

Finishing touches and accents are what make a home stand out from others on the block.

Cellular PVC finishing trim products are a low maintenance alternative to traditional wood trim, enhancing windows, doors, columns and eaves. Unlike wood, these products don't contain or absorb moisture so they won't rot.

Corners stay straight and true, while posts, skirting and mouldings stay cleaner and hold paint better than wood and engineered wood trim alternatives.

5. Cohesive Design

“Today’s home buyers, including millennials, want cohesive design that emphasizes exterior colors and material textures that work together, backed by the customizable design that fits their needs, lifestyle and preferences,” Patterson says. “This is a selling advantage for single-family home builders, who can differentiate the design of their neighborhoods with unique exteriors.”

Tapping into the millennial generation’s affinity for technology and social media, online tools like The Designed Exterior Studio visualizer help give builders the confidence to offer design expertise. Visualizer tools allow the professional and homeowner to experiment with various colors and textures before the project even begins – creating realistic visual designs with sustainable products that complement the home’s architectural character, and accommodates one’s personal style and budget.

So, no matter what generation you are building for, using energy efficient windows and sustainable siding, roofing and accessories can set you up for whole-home success.

VICKI FRYE is the director of corporate marketing for Ply Gem, a leading manufacturer of exterior building products. In her role, Frye oversees marketing and communications for the company and its windows, siding and roofing divisions across North America. Visit to check out Ply Gem’s complete portfolio of exterior products and solutions.