What Makes a Green Home "Green?"

The-green-home

This is the question: What do you consider to be the single most important factor in determining if a home is ‘green?’

According to the results of a study performed by Synovate and commissioned by FreeGreen (the semi-free house plan provider that’s designed Tiny Houses, Smart Boxes, View Boxes, and more), American homeowners collectively feel that in terms of a home’s greenness, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly materials rank higher on the list than healthy materials and location.  Here’s how homeowners answered:

  • 45.10% – energy efficiency
  • 19.80% – environmentally friendly materials
  • 18.80% – renewable energy source
  • 10.00% – natural resource efficiency
  • 4.20% – healthy materials
  • 2.20% – location

Although we haven’t seen the full details of the survey, a press release summarized some key points to consider:

  • Saving Green: the money saver option, energy efficiency, beat out the rest by a huge margin.  According to most, going green means saving green.  Literally.
  • Smart Conservation: homeowners with post-graduate degrees were twice as likely to choose natural resource efficiency.  And why wouldn’t they, because isn’t energy (and air for that matter) subsumed within the category of natural resources?
  • Water Efficiency: western states’ homeowners were forty percent more likely to choose natural resource efficiency.  Could they be feeling the pinch from water shortages?  Or smog?
  • Unhealthy Priorities: even families with children ranked healthy materials low on the survey.  Indoor / environmental air quality continues to get short shrift in the scheme of green things.
  • Cheap Boomers: one in two baby boomers chose energy efficiency, opting to save cash rather focus on some of the alternatives.

What do you think?  Which is the single most important factor, if any?  And why is energy efficiency the poster boy for model green homes?

You can catch the full press release: Is Green in the Eye of the Beholder?


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  • Anonymous

    I would have to agree that efficiency is THE most important factor because without it, all the others are wasted. To me, “efficiency” means energy efficiency, water efficiency (inside and out), and efficient use of construction materials, and.

    Also, efficiency can be easily included in home designs at all pricepoints.

  • Anonymous

    I’d suggest that CO2 footprint should be high on the list, and it isn’t even listed as one of the options.

    For example, you could install equivalent efficiency oil or gas boilers in your home, but the gas boiler is going to have 28% less CO2 output.

  • http://ouroakland.net Gene

    As Brian said, without energy efficiency, the rest is wasted. Solar panels may be sexy, but the best bang-for-the-buck is insulating and sealing the building well.

  • http://mportlandhomes.com/ M Realty

    I believe that in the future our aim should be complete self sustainability. Each home should be able to make its own power, and recycle its own water and organic waste. I also believe that each community should invest enough that they become food independent as well.

    -Tyler

  • Anonymous

    Energy efficiency! Remember the 1 for 5 rule: “For every $1 spent on making your home moer enenrgy efficient, you will save $3 to $5 on the cost of a renewable energy system.”

  • Anonymous

    This covers all the bases = saves you money, helps the environment, helps your health, makes you feel better, it’s so easy to do and it costs less than $50.00; Save money and the Earth and be clean at the same time! Add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all your bathrooms. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: “if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn’t wipe it off with paper, would you? You’d wash it off” Available at http://www.bathroomsprayers.com with these you won’t even need toilet paper any more, just a towel to dry off! Don’t worry, you can still leave some out for guests and can even make it the soft stuff without feeling guilty. It’s cheap and can be installed without a plumber; and runs off the same water line to your toilet. You’ll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. As for water use a drought is always a concern and must be dealt with prudently but remember the water use of industrial users far exceeds the water use of household users and in the case of toilet paper manufacture it is huge. The pollution and significant power use from that manufacturing process also contributes to global warming so switching to a hand bidet sprayer and lowering your toilet paper use is very green in multiple ways.

  • http://www.expansionmedia.net/ Evan

    This survey brings up a very important point. In order to increase adoption of solutions to home energy management, a large emphasis needs to be placed on consumer benefits. It is easy for people to say that they want to make the greenest choices, but when it comes down to it, consumers think with their wallets first.

    The market is not willing to sacrifice consumer satisfaction for energy conservation. This is why companies need to prove that they can strike a balance between these two factors, before widespread changes will be implemented.

    Check out this FreeGreen video highlighting their Residential Construction Details Library. They demonstrate their dedication to energy efficient solutions, as well as giving customers a range of affordable options that don’t compromise design capabilities http:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JI7wwIYjqg

  • Anonymous

    Toilets account for approx. 30% of water used indoors. By installing a Dual Flush toilet you can save between 40% and 70% of drinking water being flushed down the toilet, depending how old the toilet is you are going to replace.
    If you are serious about saving water, want a toilet that really works and is affordable, I highly recommend installing a Dual Flush toilet. Caroma toilets offer a patented dual flush technology consisting of a 0.8 Gal flush for liquid waste and a 1.6 Gal flush for solids. On an average of 5 uses a day (4 liquid/ 1 solid) a Caroma Dual Flush toilet uses an average of 0.96 gallons per flush. The new Sydney Smart uses only 1.28 and 0.8 gpf, that is an average of 0.89 gallons per flush. This is the lowest water consumption of any toilet available in the US. Caroma, an Australian company set the standard by giving the world its first successful two button dual flush system in the nineteen eighties and has since perfected the technology. Also, with a full 3.5″ trapway, these toilets virtually never clog. All of Caroma’s toilets are on the list of WaterSense labeled HET’s (High Efficiency toilets) http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pp/find_het.htm and also qualify for several toilet rebate programs available in the US. Please visit my blog http://pottygirl.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/what-you-should-know-about-toilets/
    to learn more or go to http://www.caromausa.com to learn where you can find Caroma toilets locally. Visit http://www.ecotransitions.com/howto.asp to see how we flush potatoes with 0.8 gallons of water, meant for liquids only. Best regards, Andrea Paulinelli

  • Matt

    I agree with Evan on this one while some people may build green for the purpose of saving the environment the major of people build their homes with other key factors being more important. Although people may not think a healthy home is the greatest factor when building green that doesn’t mean they personally think it’s less important. I know for a fact no one is going to say I’d rather live in a home built with renewable materials that are unhealthy for me. Like Evan said we need to push consumer benefits like better health, comfort and efficiency and not solely focus on how good it is for the environment.

  • Matt

    I agree with Evan on this one while some people may build green for the purpose of saving the environment the major of people build their homes with other key factors being more important. Although people may not think a healthy home is the greatest factor when building green that doesn’t mean they personally think it’s less important. I know for a fact no one is going to say I’d rather live in a home built with renewable materials that are unhealthy for me. Like Evan said we need to push consumer benefits like better health, comfort and efficiency and not solely focus on how good it is for the environment.

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