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Consumer interest in green building exploded in 2007, and it’s still growing. Thanks to extensive media coverage, an increasing number of consumers are becoming familiar with sustainability and green building. Newspapers warn about climate change and soaring gas prices. Retail giants like Wal-Mart have adopted sustainable practices and opened green stores. Hollywood has jumped on the green bandwagon, incorporating green practices in its 2008 Oscars. Home and garden television shows offer a steady stream
of shows promoting green living.

As the media pushes green building into the mainstream, consumers are becoming more attuned to the benefits of green homes. Homebuilders have an opportunity to meet consumer demand by adopting practices that improve the energy efficiency, durability, and indoor air quality of homes. It’s important to know the variety of consumer attitudes about green building in order to respond to the changing market.

Consumer uncertainty: Is green building more hype than reality?

Some consumers are skeptics and wonder about the hype surrounding green building. They may acknowledge that green is an effective marketing strategy, but they question companies’ motives for advertising a product or home as green. Many of these consumers are cautious of greenwashing, a tactic that companies use to mislead consumers into thinking their products or practices are green when they’re actually not. Homebuilders must be able to prove to these consumers that they’re homes are legitimately green.

Consumer profile: Who buys green homes?

People who buy green homes can’t easily be lumped into one category. They buy for different reasons. A family may find a green home appealing because they want their kids to grow up in a healthy home without allergens and toxins. Empty-nesters may be attracted to the cheaper utility bills.

For a growing number of consumers, green building is not a hard sell. These consumers have done their research; they’re concerned about reducing their ecological footprint or impact on the environment. They understand that energy-efficient homes can alleviate global warming and soaring gas prices even more than hybrid cars can. In some cases, they’re more knowledgeable than the homebuilder and can shop around for green features. Many others recognize the benefits of a green home, but their understanding is
more basic.

Consumer values: What are the benefits of green building?

The key to selling green homes is to understand the values that consumers hold and what motivates them to buy green products. In other words, the best way to market green building is to educate homebuyers on its benefits. Realize that sustainability and environmental benefits won’t resonate with everyone. However, if you frame the benefits of green homes in terms of indoor air quality, comfort, and economy, you’re more likely to convince buyers that green homes have a direct impact on their health, happiness, and quality of life. Avoid using the vocabulary of the builder-“energy recovery ventilators” means little to most buyers, but lower utility bills and fresher indoor air make a whole lot of sense. The more relevant you make green building to consumers, the more they’ll recognize its value.

BuildIQ provides homebuilders with online information, tools, and training to help them improve the quality of their homes. On BuildIQ’s Jobsite website, builders have access to a repository of green building articles, which include topics such as green building programs, financial incentives for green building, and homebuyer education about green building. For more information about BuildIQ, visit

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