According to the results of a recent Synovate study, American homeowners are more concerned with energy efficiency and cost-saving measures when building a green home than with any other factor. FreeGreen, the world's leading house- plan provider, commissioned the independent study, focused on consumer perception of how to define green building.
The study reveals a gap between what consumers believe are the most significant green elements and the criteria of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes (LEED-H).
"Green home-building standards such as LEED-H and the NAHB green building program are useful guidelines for builders and architects," says FreeGreen CEO David Wax. "This survey indicates that it could be very useful for LEED-H and NAHB to incorporate consumer feedback into their standards to get the best of both worlds, get experts to set the standard in green innovation, and use consumer input to drive the marketing efforts leading to greater adoption.
"The residential market is an entirely different animal from the commercial with everyday consumers driving demand as opposed to developers and governments," Wax continues. "FreeGreen was founded as a resource focused entirely on the residential consumer in helping them choose a floor plan and environmentally friendly materials to build a green home in language they understand and with an emphasis on energy efficiency."
Highlights from the Study
- Thinking with their wallets. Not surprisingly given the enduring economic crisis, an overwhelming majority (25 percent higher than the next most popular choice) chose energy efficiency, the most obvious money-saver of the options.
- Education begets conservation. According to the study, those with higher levels of education place more importance on conserving natural resources. Respondents with post-graduate degrees were twice as likely to consider natural-resource efficiency the single most important factor in determining if their home is green.
- Earthquakes, fires, traffic and natural-resource efficiency. Those surveyed in the western states were nearly 40 percent more likely to be concerned about natural-resource efficiency than their eastern counterparts. This statistic could be linked to the present drought in California, one of the most serious in recorded history.
- Healthy materials not a priority. Across the board, in every demographic (including families with children), healthy materials ranked remarkably low (from 3 percent to 5 percent), indicating that consumers consider it marginally important.
- The baby boomers have spoken. By far, the most statistically significant group in the survey with the greatest purchasing power answered the survey in no uncertain terms by choosing energy efficiency as their top priority with regard to greening their homes. Nearly one of every two boomers chose with their wallet, opting to save on their utility bills versus the alternatives.
Founded in 2008, FreeGreen
is the world's leading house-plan provider, now distributing over 36,000 house plans per year. Created by a diverse group of designers, engineers and businesspeople, FreeGreen encourages building green homes by making house plans available at no charge. The FreeGreen team has been working together for more than five years on residential green design and construction projects. These activities include designing and constructing an award-winning, off-grid home, designing solar-powered green houses and creating residential energy models for Global 500 companies.