Study: Homebuyers Want Green (and they can now define the term)

House made of leaves with light bulb in front

In a Jimmy Kimmel Live segment, a faux reporter went out to the enlightened streets of Los Angeles to research the views on eating gluten. Not surprisingly, most people interviewed rejected gluten in their diets for health reasons. The problem is that almost half had no idea what gluten even was!

That’s the power of trends.

Is going Green another one of those trends with a nebulous interpretation? Another one of those goody-goodness movements that most cannot define?

There is good news on one front. When it comes to homebuyers and what they consider Green, the definition is getting clearer—as reported in a piece by the National Association of Home Builders. It is based on a recent study by the NAHB’s publishing arm, BuilderBooks: What Green Means to Home Buyers: Perceptions and Preferences. The research focused on consumer preferences primarily on Green features in the home and the surrounding community.

Beyond understanding how homebuyers regard the term “Green,” NAHB Chairman Tom Woods explained:

This new study is an incredibly useful tool to help builders and remodelers determine not only consumer attitudes towards green homes, but also which green features consumers care most about. We have seen incredible growth in green and sustainable building over the years, and the results of this survey only further solidify the continued consumer interest in green building, and which attributes matter most these buyers.

According to homebuyers in the study, these words constitute Green homes:

 32%: Efficient, Energy Efficient, Water Efficient, High Efficiency
15%: Eco-friendly, Environmentally-friendly, Environmentally-responsible, Environmentally-safe, Environmentally-conscious
8%: Solar, Solar Power, Solar Energy, Solar Panels
4%: Lower Costs, Lower Utility Bills, Saves Money

Furthermore, when considering purchasing a home, energy efficiency (88%) was a main influencing factor, only behind being located in a safe community (90%).

These findings are not that surprising, and are key for market researchers attempting to understand homebuyers and homeowner trends. After all, our research reveals that environmentally-conscious purchasing is growing. This includes the booming solar industry. The U.S. has even surpassed Germany as the world’s leading producer of solar power.

If you’re curious about who is leading the clean pack, these states and their solar usage might not surprise you:

1. California – 2621 megawatts/year
2. Arizona – 421 megawatts/year
3. North Carolina – 335 megawatts/year
4. Massachusetts – 223 megawatts/year

These four states are but part of apparent and nationwide trend, as demonstrated in these charts:

solar industry graphs

In our study, Why Consumers Buy Green, qSample found that 64% of consumers are concerned with the environment, while 76% consider the environment when making shopping decisions (you can download it at the end of this article). The reasons, when qualifying the data, are based on the Generalized Exchange Model. It hypothesizes that four variables play a role in determining attitudes or propensity to perform behaviors:

Feeling of social responsibility
Feelings of social equity
Perceived effectiveness of the behavior (performance)
Benefits to the community

Simply put: Buying Green feels good because it makes others feel good (and it looks good as we partake in that goody-goodness!).

Furthermore, going Green with homes is becoming a nationwide inclination, according to GreenHomeBuilder:

Affordable green homes: No longer is “green” synonymous with “elite.” As green features become more in demand and more commonplace, builders and designers are starting to incorporate them even into moderately priced homes. Expect this trend to continue in 2015 and beyond. Look out especially for growth in the number of modular, pre-designed green and energy efficient homes, as well as green energy retrofits of existing homes.

With homebuyers (as well as homeowners), the NAHB report states that a safe and Green community is important when it comes to living standards. Considering the national trend, the study’s percentages numbers will likely continue to grow. It certainly has blossomed (pardon the pun) when it comes to baby boomers, as presented in our infographic based on primary research:

infographic on why consumers buy green


All this data will certainly affect qSample’s future management and vetting of our more than 100k general contractor and homeowner panels—as well as future case studies and white papers.

If we want to find out about gluten, though, we’ll have to go somewhere else…


what makes consumers buy green products graphic


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