Contractors report green practices hat promoting energy efficiency are most commonly used in homes: 91% of homebuilders use energy-efficient approaches, and 69% do so on the majority of their projects. These practices may include the use of LED lighting, energy-efficient appliances and right-sized, highly efficient HVAC systems.

Ninety-seven percent of builders doing more than 50% of their projects green report using energy efficiency practices on more than 75% of their projects; 88% mention a tight building envelope and 61% use high-performance ventilation.

A study by Dodge Data and Analytics and the NAHB (National Assn. of Home Builders) finds customer demands are driving the green-home movement. Most builders see the top factors whether to invest in a green home are concerns about cost and performance, with related issues—like their return on investment and the quality of the home—following close behind. Builders credit consumers’ perceptions on performance with influencing their decision to build green.

Buyers seeking to upscale are most willing to pay a premium for a green home, second are buyers seeking to downsize. First-time buyers, typically the youngest of these groups, are perceived to be the least willing to pay a green premium. It is surprising that buyers with children are less likely to pay more for green homes than those downsizing or upscaling. This may suggest that buyers are not making the connection between healthier and green homes and could offer an opportunity to promote customer awareness of this connection.

The lack of market demand was cited as the top reason that companies are not currently doing more green building. A green home incorporates strategies in design and construction that increase energy, water and resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and minimize environmental impacts on the site. If the demand isn’t there, the extra costs of doing the green home are still there. Even so, one third or more of single-family builders (33%) and multifamily builders (35%) report doing 50% or more of their projects green. On the other hand, 42% of single-family builders and 31% of multifamily builders report doing no green building at all.

The percentage single-family home builders who are dedicated to building green has steadily grown from 18% in 2014 to 21% in 2019. Green builders were asked about the top reasons they built green homes and the highest percentage (68%) say they choose to do so because it is the right thing to do. Highly influential is the desire to create healthier buildings and to improve their reputation in the industry. Very few home builders are influenced by regulations or market factors in their decision to build green.

Builders were also asked to select their top reasons for not doing more green building; over three quarters cited the lack of customer demand; cost is also a major factor. About 81% of single-family home builders in the Northeast consider the expense of building a green home a top obstacle that prevents them from undertaking more green building. Most (86%) single-family home builders and 74% of multifamily builders agree that building green costs more than building a traditional home, most quoting a premium between 5% and 10%.

Energy efficiency is by far the top practice that is expected to improve green home performance, selected by nearly all of the green home builders. About half of green home builders also regard healthier indoor living environments and durability as top ways to improve performance. Only about one quarter consider efficient use of natural resources or water efficiency a top practice to improve green home performance. However, the percentage of green builders using smart technology for energy management on at least some of their projects is high (82%). Green builders (43%) use this technology on 50% or more of their projects.

The increase in the incidence of severe weather has led to greater attention to resiliency, and that has started to appear in home building projects. Green builders are particularly conscious of its importance, with 87% including one or more resilient features on at least some projects, and 64% doing so on more than half the homes they build. Even among those with less green involvement, nearly two thirds (63%) use resilient features on at least some of their projects, and one third do so on more than half of them.

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