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May 2014

Study examines popularity of green homes

By NWREporter

May 2014

Green homes command higher prices, deliver high levels of satisfaction to buyers, and are generating more revenue for builders, according to recent studies commissioned by the National Association of Home Builders.

Researchers examined homeowner satisfaction levels and what influenced their decision to "buy green." In a related study, builders were asked about their green building practices and plans. NAHB presented results of both studies during the annual International Builders' Show held earlier this year in Las Vegas.

Key findings of the consumer study revealed:

  • 94% would recommend a green home to a friend.
  • 92% would purchase another green home.
  • 71% of respondents believe that green homes are, overall, of higher quality.
  • 55% knew their home may have cost more than a non-green home, but believed the benefits outweighed the cost.
  • 90% were satisfied knowing they "did the right thing" in buying a green home.

Matt Belcher, co-chair of NAHB's Energy & Green Building Subcommittee, said the data provided "groundbreaking information that can be of value to the general public as well as the industry."

Homeowners also provided their feedback on what influenced their decision to purchase a green home, and the sustainable features they value most. According to respondents, low utility bills, energy efficiency and better insulation topped the list of the green-related aspects that owners rated as most satisfying.

GuildQuality conducted the customer satisfaction survey for NAHB to test assumptions about green home buyers and to help the home building industry better understand motivations for purchasing a green home and the features buyers value the most. In addition to presenting the findings at the show, the firm published a white paper titled "Homeowner's Perspective: The Value of a Green Home."

Value of Green Home Construction Doubles Over Three Years

During the same builders' show, McGraw Hill Construction presented findings from a Green Home Builders and Remodelers Study.

Green homes comprised 23 percent of the overall residential construction market in 2013. That number is expected to grow to between 26 percent and 33 percent of the market by 2016, which equates to a doubling of the value of the green home component over three years. Measured by dollars, the value will rise from $36 billion in 2013 to $83-to-$105 billion in 2016, according to McGraw Hill's research.

Researchers also reported the green home building market most rapidly accelerated during the housing downturn when builders experienced in green construction remained in business at higher proportions than those not as knowledgeable about energy-efficient and green home building.

With the housing recovery, analysts said there are indications the residential market is becoming bifurcated, with green builders accelerating the depth of their green work, and new or returned entrants into the market focusing on traditional construction practices.

The study shows the top drivers to increased green home building activity include changes in codes and regulations, better quality, wider availability and affordability of green products, energy costs, and competitive advantage.

"The broader availability of green building products and practices, a more educated consumer, and an increase in activity at the regulatory level will also encourage this group of builders to learn green practices over time," noted Harvey M. Bernstein, a VP with McGraw Hill Construction.

The green home building study was designed to provide key insights into market opportunities and to identify business benefits associated with green building.

"This study shows that more and more builders are incorporating environmentally sensitive and energy and resource efficient techniques into traditional home building practices, and we expect to see even stronger growth in the coming years," said Matt Belcher Co-Chair of NAHB's Energy & Green Building Subcommittee. The study is the fourth in a series dating to 2006.