Builders assume consumers prefer green homes

After eight years studying Americans’ thoughts on environmental and energy issues, researcher Suzanne Shelton has learned a few things about how best to engage consumers on green topics.

She’s also found that many home builders often make big mistakes when marketing their high-performance homes.

Mistake No. 1, she told attendees at the recent NAHB National Green Building Conference in Nashville, Tenn., is that builders assume consumers prefer green homes. Her research has found that while a large amount of buyers—about 40%—are interested in a green home, an even larger amount—62%—are interested in an energy-efficient one.

“You definitely want to skew your marketing toward energy efficiency,” she said, adding that the top energy-efficient features that buyers look for in a home are: Energy Star appliances (47%), high-efficiency windows (44%), and high-efficiency HVAC equipment (30%). “Even for most green-leaning consumers, at the end of the day the draw is that they want to save money on their bills.”

Nevertheless, the CEO of the Shelton Group cautioned against relying too heavily on energy, saying that efficiency is not always a “slam dunk” with buyers, noting that many are either apathetic or angry about their utility bills. “Be aware of this when you talk about energy efficiency, you may see some people yawning, and some others get really angry.”

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