McGraw-Hill Construction yesterday releasedThe Green Homeowner SmartMarket Report, produced in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders. The major findings of the report include:

  • The market for true* green homes is expected to rise from $2 billion to up to $20 billion over the next five years.
  • Standard homes are becoming increasingly green, with homeowners using green products for 40 percent of their remodeling work.
  • Most Americans find out about green homes through word-of-mouth, followed by television and the Internet.
  • Green homeowners are happy with their homes and are recommending them at rates significantly higher than recommendation levels of other industries.
  • Homeowners are buying green homes because they are concerned about the health of their families, as well as to reduce energy and other home operating costs.
  • Education and awareness of green ranks as the most important obstacles, slightly higher even than the additional first costs associated with building green.

“People are spreading the word about their green homes, which is most effective because that’s how buyers are hearing about the opportunities of green,” said Harvey M. Bernstein, vice president of industry analytics, alliances and strategic initiatives for McGraw-Hill Construction. “It’s a cycle that is bearing out in the marketplace.”

McGraw-Hill Construction found in prior studies that residential builders and the commercial industry believed that the additional costs of green were by far the most significant challenge to more rapid growth in green building. But for homeowners, this survey shows that while costs and the availability of green homes are still an obstacle, the most important issue is lack of awareness.

“This information gap is actually a great opportunity for the industry, as well as for the media, nongovernmental organizations and government itself to provide more effective communication of the advantages of green homes,” added Bernstein.

The size of the homeowner remodeling market that is using green products is large: 40 percent of homeowners remodeling their houses are doing so with green products, especially their windows and heating and cooling systems.

In a related survey conducted for NAHB by Public Opinion Strategies, 78 percent of respondents are willing to pay more for a green home - as long as lawmakers are willing to offer incentives or rebates to help defray the extra costs.

“In fact, 44 percent of respondents say they would be much more inclined to buy a green home if incentives were available,” said Neil Newhouse, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies. “That’s a pretty strong indication of the power of state and federal support for energy and resource efficiency in new homes.”

National Green Building Program

In light of these survey results, the NAHB National Green Building Program, to be launched Feb. 14 at the 2008 NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando, couldn’t come at a better time.

About 100,000 green homes have been built to-date through programs run or supported by local building associations around the country. The national initiative will link dozens of successful state and local green building programs with a universal online certification tool, national registry of green homes and green builders, and a wealth of educational tools and resources for home builders and home buyers.

“The NAHB National Green Building Program isn’t a new way to build green,” said NAHB President Brian Catalde. “However, it’s a low-cost administrative and certification system that will help keep green affordable - and that’s the key to market acceptance.”

In addition, NAHB’s Certified Green Professional designation will debut at the 2008 show as well as significantly enhanced educational offerings for green builders, developers and remodelers. The Certified Green Professional designation is awarded after 24 hours of course work and requires regular additional continuing education credits.

*Definition of a true green home: True green homes are defined more narrowly as homes that contain elements in three of five environmental building categories: energy efficiency, indoor air quality, water efficiency, resource efficiency, and site management.