At What Cost Do We Want Green Homes?
“What do you consider to be the single most important factor in determining if a home is green?” Homeowners were asked this question in a recent study by FreeGreen. Hands down, the answer came down to finances. While green means different things to different people, homeowners are concerned with energy efficiency, but cost saving measures win out when they consider building green homes.
Homeowners were given a set of categories (below) from the LEED standards for green homebuilding. The US Green Building Council defines LEED as “The internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”
These are the categories and the order of importance the homeowners chose after cost saving measures:
Environmentally Friendly Materials
Natural Resource Efficiency
Innovation and Design
Here are some highlights from the study:
• Homeowners are thinking with their wallets. Given the economic crisis, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Finances were overwhelmingly the factor that determined whether or not the people in the survey would build green.
• The study found that education begets conservation. Those with higher levels of education considered conserving natural resources an important factor. Respondents to the survey with post-graduate degrees were twice as likely to choose natural resource efficiency as the most important factor in determining green homes.
• Where the respondents resided made a difference. This also is not surprising. Earthquakes, fires, traffic and natural resource efficiency were 40% more important to residents from western states than eastern states.
• Healthy building materials were not much of a priority. In every demographic, “healthy materials” ranked remarkably low (from 3-5%). This is probably because of higher materials costs.
• Baby Boomers were by far the most statistically significant group in the survey to choose energy efficiency as their top priority with regard to greening their homes after cost.
FreeGreen is a free house plans provider. “FreeGreen was founded as a resource focused entirely on the residential consumer in helping them choose the plan and environmentally friendly materials to build a green home in language they understand and with an emphasis on energy efficiency.” To learn more and to download a free green house plan, visit www.freegreen.com
It seems green building has many shades of green. Personally, like most baby-boomers, energy efficiency is important to me, but of course one of the reasons is because, I believe it is tied closely to cost effectiveness. All of the categories above are so important to human health concerns and the health of our planet. I am glad these conversations (survey) are happening. Every little step gets us closer to sustainability.
So, I’ll ask you the question the folks in the survey were asked: “What do you consider to be the single most important factor in determining if a home is green?” Share with us how you make your home green.
Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.