BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - While green homes are generally perceived as expensive to build or purchase, a recent survey found that consumers and builders believe that reduced prices on building materials will help these homes become more affordable. The survey was conducted on behalf of Whirlpool Corp. and Habitat for Humanity by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center, and reported respondents’ opinions on barriers to more affordable green building and how to overcome them.

According to the consumer survey, 59 percent of consumers indicated that lower cost of products and materials is needed for green homes to become more affordable. The builder survey found that builders were largely in agreement with consumers about this point. Most builders (75 percent) indicated that the costs of materials and products for green homes need to be reduced.

“It’s encouraging for us to see that consumers and builders are taking a stronger interest in green housing concepts,” said Tom Halford, general manager, contract sales and marketing, Whirlpool Corp. “We need a combined voice of manufacturers, builders, and volunteer organizations to continue helping the general public see the benefits of green building. Their collective input is valuable to us as we work to overcome the hurdles that are pointed out in the survey.”

Another change consumers in the survey claimed is needed to make green homes affordable is an increase in incentives for sustainable building and remodeling. Of all respondents, 53 percent felt that increasing incentives for homeowners would help with green home affordability, and 36 percent suggested increasing incentives for builders. In addition, the majority of consumers (69 percent) indicated they believe state and federal governments both should provide incentives for purchasing green building products. Among builder respondents, 40 percent believed that incentives for both homeowners and builders would help promote green building.

“Green building can enhance the affordability of homes by decreasing utility costs and is a responsible building practice,” said Larry Gluth, senior vice president of U.S. and Canada for Habitat for Humanity International. “For these reasons, green building is playing a larger role in Habitat projects. Working in partnership with homeowners, volunteers, and donors at the individual, community, and national level, Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the United States are incorporating more sustainable materials and energy-efficient products into Habitat homes.”

Publication date: 02/14/2011