The All-or-Nothing Green Home

There’s no place like a green home, but most consumers are far from inhabiting one. Nor, finds a Shelton Group poll, do they necessarily feel a great urgency about doing so.

One of the survey’s questions asked, “How important is it to you that your home is a ‘green’ home?” with possible answers ranging from “very important” to “very unimportant.” Nine percent picked “very important,” with another 46 percent choosing “important.” Twelve percent dared to say “very unimportant,” and another 8 percent said “unimportant.” The other 25 percent were undecided. Thus, given this easy chance to (at least) pay lip service to the planet, nearly half the respondents declined to do so.

Oddly enough, this pattern of response may reflect an overly stringent view of what qualifies as a “green” house. In its own analysis of the data, the Shelton Group suggests consumers see the green home as an “all-or-nothing” proposition. And since their definition of “all” is so elaborate and expensive, they can easily be paralyzed into doing nothing. Among the things many respondents said a home must have in order to qualify as green: Energy Star/energy-efficient appliances (cited by 82 percent), water-conserving features (78 percent), high-efficiency windows (71 percent), renewable electric power, such as solar (71 percent), eco-friendly building materials (69 percent) and solar screens to block sunlight (51 percent).

But it’s not as though such green features are top of mind for the ordinary homeowner. In an unaided-response question on the topic, 42 percent couldn’t name any green-home feature at all. Among the things people did mention without prompting were solar-energy technology (28 percent), energy-saving lightbulbs (12 percent), energy-efficient/Energy Star appliances (10 percent) and water-saving devices (9 percent).