Green Building Stalled By Low Fuel Prices?

You may have noticed that one of the biggest media messages about green building seems to be that it can save you money. With falling fuel prices, many builders have abandoned their green building efforts because they simply saw these steps as marketing tools.

What these builders fail to see is that many buyers want a green-built home not just to save money on their home energy costs, but because they are either sensitive to the environmental issues, or are looking for improved home comfort, or both. I know many people buying Boulder real estate want all three, and don’t take too kindly to lip service and “green-washing” marketing techniques. I’d like to help you get more information about green building truths. If you call or email me, you can get some questions answered about this topic, and other real estate topics that are important to you.

A report from Phoenix revealed that home builders in that area were “slapping on” solar panels and other ‘eco-friendly’ enhancements to try and attract buyers when energy prices were rocketing into the stratosphere last year.

Now with oil down from $147 per barrel to a hover around the high $30’s to low $40’s per barrel, all of a sudden some of these same builders in Phoenix and other areas with depressed real estate markets are abandoning their green building emphasis. Meritage Homes and Shea Homes are reportedly two of these builders, according to a piece from the Associated Press.

I read another article that quoted a Meritage Homes Corp employee who said that buyers aren’t willing to pay for the built-green features. I think it’s mostly a problem with the builder’s line of thinking. If you don’t know about the full circle of benefits from built-green homes, you’re simply stuck in a 1970’s mentality of assessing the appropriateness of of this shift in building techniques.

A local builder that does seem to get the whole picture is McStain homes. Another I’ve been watching is Markel.

Other home builder reps around the nation have been quoted as saying that buyers frequently say they want to be green, buy green, and live green, but that those same people don’t want to pay for it. I would say again that it’s an inherent problem with understand the up front costs of some of the different building techniques measured against the return on investment in numerous ways.

Too many people are only willing to look at the initial cost and measure that against the money saved on utility bills. If we consider the ROI when compared to comfort, health and safety issues, environmental impact, resale value, and lastly the energy cost savings, the majority of well-designed built-green homes come out way ahead for the consumer.

The difficulty is builders, like many buyers, are not looking at the entire picture. It’s time to ‘zoom out’ the view and see all aspects of green building.

If you find you’re considering a change and have some questions about real estate in our area, please send me an email or give me a call so we can talk about what’s important to you right now.

-Zachary Epps, full-time professional Realtor® and EcoBroker®

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