According to a recent NAHB survey, new and prospective home buyers say that energy efficiency is a large factor in their home buying preferences. To understand how home builders, remodelers, and design-builders approach this issue, CoConstruct conducted its own survey of contractors and found comparable results but differing underlying motivations. This survey found that the focus for clients is saving green and not necessarily being green. The environmental benefits from green building are seen as a bonus but the true motivating factor in deciding which features to include in a build are the economic benefits.
About the survey
We asked residential construction leaders a series of questions about their thoughts on sustainable building features that are most important to clients, their most used green building features, and the percentage of projects featuring sustainable building features. This survey was conducted from February 4, 2022 to February 28, 2022 and received more than 150 responses from residential construction industry leaders. This survey was completed by CoConstruct’s construction project management software users in the US.
Energy efficiency is the most important aspect of green building design for residential construction clients
Across all residential construction build types, energy efficiency is cited as the most important green building design feature for clients. The next most important feature is reduced operating costs according to 21% of respondents. Notably, home builders were more likely than design-builders and remodelers to say reduced operating costs was their client’s most important green building feature. Remodelers, in general, were less likely than home builders and design-builders to say that durability or a reduced carbon footprint was important. This is likely because of the smaller scope involved in most remodeling projects not pertaining to either of these benefits.
The importance of efficient and reduced costs was echoed by contractors who shared additional green building thoughts with our team. One home builder from Washington told us that they don’t specify products because they are green but instead because they are more efficient or will save the client money. The feature of being green is seen as a bonus and not a necessity. Similarly, a remodeler from Missouri told us that clients look to their contractors for direction on these projects and they are generally only interested in green building features unless they see a financial incentive to do so.
Improved insulation is the most used green building design feature used over the last year
Contractors said improved insulation was their most used green building design feature in projects over the last year. This was especially true for design-builders in general and for contractors in the Northeast who were both more likely than their peers to respond with improved insulation. Remodelers in general were the least likely of any of the build types to incorporate the above green building design elements into their projects. Once again this is likely due to their scope not calling for any such features.
While only 13% of respondents said they used low-emittance windows the most in projects over the last year, respondents in the South were more likely than other regions to use them the most in projects. Water recycling, a smaller building footprint, and recycled or prefabricated building materials were also response options for this question, but they were removed from the analysis due to low to no response volume.
Most contractors will incorporate green building design in all their 2022 projects
Most residential construction companies believe they will use green building design in all their 2022 projects. Home builders and contractors in the Northeast specifically were more likely to say 100% of their projects would incorporate green building design. Different build types were consistent in their responses except when it came to the 19% of remodelers who said they believe 0% of their projects this year will utilize green building features.
Overall contractors told us that green building is about building performance and less about the environmental aspects. The ability for contractors to help clients quantify future savings from green building design is critical to deciding which features to include in projects.
Looking to stay on top of the latest residential construction industry news? See our industry insights blog post for trends and analysis of the latest residential construction data.