Exclusive Research: Going Green

Green building may be here to stay but finding buyers willing to pay a premium for energy efficiency and sustainability is still a challenge.

By Mike Beirne, Editor | November 15, 2013

The majority of builders polled in our green building survey indicated that they intend to certify their houses as green, and most either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that green helps sell homes.

But builders still called out the shortfalls in green building. Several had choice adjectives regarding green promises and product ratings. A Michigan builder who certified his projects with Energy Star and LEED wrote that both standards have “gone too far in making claims” requiring expensive add-ons that have a payback of 50 years or more. That builder does not intend to certify future new-home projects as green. The most frequent gripe was that consumers do not understand nor appreciate the long-term payback from reduced utility costs and improved healthy living. One builder wrote that customers will accept all the green features you can offer, as long as they don’t have to pay for them. Appraisers not giving proper value for green homes compared with regular houses also was a common complaint.
Methodology and Respondent Information
This survey was distributed between September 25 and October 9, 2013, to a random sample of Professional Builder’s print and digital readers. No incentive was offered. By closing date, a total of 279 eligible readers responded. Respondent breakdown by discipline: 24.9 percent diversified builder/remodelers; 23.4 percent custom home builders; 13.8 percent architects engaged in home building; 10.8 percent production builders for move-up buyers; 5.2 percent production builders for first-time buyers; 4.5 percent multifamily; 3 percent manufactured or modular builders; and 11.9 percent other. Fifty-eight percent of respondents built one to five homes in 2012.
A California builder wrote that he considered installing solar panels on his own home but was discouraged by the 12- to 15-year payback, even with government subsidies. He also noted that his local utility is starting to charge a fee to customers with solar just for backing up their power source. “Green will take much more time than the promoters want to acknowledge,” he said in an open-text response.


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