When buyers think of a green home, they think of features that will first save energy and second improve the quality of the air in the home, according to survey results released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas last week.

NAHB surveyed nearly 4,000 homebuyers, both recent and prospective, on the types of features they prefer to have in their home, including eco-friendly components and designs.

To achieve their energy efficiency goals, buyers would most like to have windows and appliances rated Energy Star, efficient lighting (using less energy than traditional bulbs), and insulation higher than required by code.

More than half of homebuyers also find these indoor air quality features essential or desirable: a home dehumidification system, an electronic air cleaner and low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials.

“It’s confirmation that the most attractive green features for homebuyers are those that help them save money on energy costs as well as those that improve the air quality inside their homes,” says Rose Quint, associate vice president of survey research at NAHB.

Green features buyers don’t care about

A roof partially or completely covered by plants is the least appealing green feature – only 24 percent of buyers would want it in their next home. Many homebuyers are simply indifferent toward other green features, too, such as roof-mounted wind turbines, rainwater collection systems and recycled material or prefabricated building components.

It’s largely about the money

Consumers like the cost savings green features provide. Nearly half of homebuyers are willing to invest between $1,000 and $9,999 for $1,000 annual savings on their utility bills, with 37 percent willing to spend upward of $10,000. The average amount increases based on the price of the home, ranging from $6,653 for homes priced under $150,000, to $10,560 for homes valued at $500,000 or more.

Survey findings also show that most homebuyers would prefer a number of green options versus the non-green alternative: 74 percent would rather have features and finishes made of more expensive materials that last longer versus 26 percent who would prefer them to be made of cheaper materials that need to be replaced more often.

Similarly, 65 percent would opt for low-maintenance landscaping versus 35 percent who prefer a conventional lawn.

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