How “green” is the average homebuilder?

by Corina Munoz

A construction worker in a green helmet and orange jumpsuit on the worksite.


“Green” amenities and building practices are all the rage, but how green is the average homebuilder, really?

As it turns out, some green practices and products are more popular than others among single-family home builders. According to a recent survey from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), on average, there are 1o.2 green products or services builders use. Twenty-two percent of builders report that they always or almost always have their homes certified to some green standard, while 48 percent never or almost never have their homes certified.

The survey focused on special questions on the January survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. More than 330 single-family home builders responded. One question asked builders if, when building homes over the last year, they typically incorporated any of 21 specific green products and practices. That list reflected significant portions of the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).

Here’s what they found:


Energy efficient windows rule

Reigning supreme on the list were energy efficient windows, commonly used by 95 percent of the builders surveyed. Not to be significantly outdone, high efficiency HVAC systems followed closely at 92 percent.

Respondents were also given the chance to write in any other green features they could potentially include in their projects. Similarly, if they completely overlooked green products or practices, they could indicate that on the survey as well.

NGBS was not builders’ only green certification option on the survey. Other standards include ENERGY STAR® and LEED, not to mention programs operated by state or local jurisdictions.

Builders who consistently or nearly always have their homes green standard certified use, on average, 11.9 of the green products or practices. Even builders with homes that are never or rarely certified, continue to use just over nine of them.


Are homebuilders meeting buyers’ green wishes?

Another NAHB study, which surveyed 4,300 recent and prospective homebuyers nationwide, focused on buyer preferences and the features on buyers’ “most wanted lists.” The survey found that buyers strongly favor a host 0f features that abet energy conservation. In fact, the purchasing decision of at least 80 percent of all homebuyers would be impacted by the presence of ENERGY STAR® appliances and windows, as well as insulation that exceeded coding requirements.

A noteworthy sidebar: While Energy Star®-rated appliances were at the top of the list of preferred features among all groups, Gen X’ers, Boomers and Seniors ranked it first or second. Millennials, however, were of a different mind, were a slight different story, ranking Energy Star®-rated appliances last, at No. 10.

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