Builders Respond to Growing Interest in Green Homes

green house

This post has been updated.

During National Homeownership Month in June, we’re focusing on the critical role that the home plays in our lives and how NAHB members are finding innovative ways to build the American Dream.

Ongoing research by NAHB and its partners shows that many home buyers are interested in green, sustainable and high-performance building practices. NAHB’s report, Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How They Compare to Other Home Buyers, asked home buyers across four generations – millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers and seniors – what features they consider essential/desirable in a new home.

Energy-efficient strategies, including ENERGY STAR appliances and windows and above-code insulation made the most-wanted list and would positively influence the purchase decision of 80% or more of all home buyers. Water-efficient features were also cited as essential/desirable by 72% of respondents.

Builders are responding to this interest by increasingly incorporating these strategies in new home construction.

“Homes constructed with green, sustainable and high-performance strategies offer home owners a product that can reduce their total cost of ownership through lower utility bills and can be resold at a premium in many markets,” said Troy Johns, founder of Urban Northwest Homes in Vancouver, Wash. “These homes also generally provide increased comfort and a healthier indoor environment for occupants.”

Approximately one-quarter of the single-family builders in NAHB’s 2017 Green Practices Survey are building with strategies that would qualify for at least Bronze-level certification under the requirements of the 2015 National Green Building Standard™ (NGBS).

The NGBS is the only green rating system approved by the American National Standards Institute and provides third-party certification for residential construction through six key categories: site design, resource efficiency, water efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and building operation and maintenance. Homes must meet a minimum threshold in each category to achieve certification.

The Green Practices Survey also showed that current home building practices among respondents met Bronze level certification in energy efficiency for 74% of the properties and over half met it for water, indoor environmental quality and operation/maintenance.

To help industry professionals respond to the growing interest in green building, NAHB offers the Certified Green Professional™ and Master Certified Green Professional designations. These designations recognize builders, remodelers and other industry professionals who incorporate green and sustainable building principles into homes. NAHB also offers educational courses in green building. Get started at nahb.org/learn.

For more information about sustainable building practices, contact Michelle Diller.

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  1. William says:

    You could do a similar survey and get similar results about people’s preferences when purchasing airline tickets. Ton’s of people will say things like leg room and food positively effect their purchase decision but the reality is when people go to purchase tickets they generally aren’t willing to pay for these things or they selected the cheapest ticket.

    My question/point is, to what extent does this actually translate to people being willing to pay up for these features or sacrifice other features. Or will they just revert to number of bedrooms, and kitchen & bathroom finishes?

    • NAHB Now says:

      NAHB looked at that topic in 2015; we conducted a survey of consumer preferences focusing exclusively on green/high-performance features in 2015 to look at how home purchasing decisions were influenced by these preferences. The full report, titled “What Green Means to Home Buyers: Perceptions & Preferences” is available at Builder Books.

      One of the results looked at the likelihood that a feature would influence the purchase decision, with 1 = not at all likely to seriously influence, 5 = very likely to seriously influence

      This graph shows the percentage of respondents who rated each feature a 4 or a 5. Out of 36 features, “energy efficient” scored second after “safe community” with 88% of respondents rating it a 4 or 5.

      Other studies show consumers are willing to pay for sustainable building features, including the 2017 NCBPA Annual Energy Efficient, Green and High Performance Home and Building Inventory Report, which found a 9.5% price premium for high performance homes in three of North Carolina’s metro markets. (Available for free download here.)

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