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:

Energy Efficiency
Environmentally Friendly Materials
Renewable Energy
Natural Resource Efficiency
Healthy Materials
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

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. 


Tim Cheung
Tim C7 years ago


Tim Cheung
Tim C7 years ago


Nimue Pendragon
Nimue Michelle P7 years ago

Thanx :)

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers7 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.


TY :)

Mary B.
Mary B8 years ago

Speaking to the low income folks who live in rural settings where the town counsul won't come in and say you can't do that here, a few suggestions are build water proof 'boxes' around your outside walls and put straw bales inside them.Cover the outside with regular sideing material. You'll have very deep window wells, and about R40 insulation from the bales. Mutes outside sounds and lasts for years as long as they don't get wet.Storm windows can also be put up, further protecting the regular windows from hail and drafts. If you are at all creative you can make even a mobile home look like an adobe rambler. Make the most of southern exposure by building a sun space, even if it's unusable during winter, it will serve as a buffer from wind and a place to store stuff that needs to be inside but can freeze without harm. With this, you won't need air conditioning either.

Linda Messer
Linda Messer8 years ago

It is so great to find out what people are thinking when it comes to saving energy in the home. For me, using renewable energy is the way to go! So many people don't realize how much help is out there by means of incentives from government levels and energy suppliers to help people offset the costs of implementing solar and wind energy. And, consumers can save soooo much money on their electric bills! Even the American Wind Energy Association ( reports it's not uncommon for consumers with total-electric homes who use wind turbines to have a utility bill nine months of the year in the amounts of $8 to $15 which can mean a savings of 50% to 90%.
There's so much great info about renewable energy available now. One site that may be interesting to those wanting to learn more about renewable energy for their homes is:

Ellinor S.
Ellinor S8 years ago

Thank you