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Survey finds consumers, builders lack consensus in defining what makes a home green

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What exactly makes a home green? Consumers and builders alike are torn.

According to a recent survey from the Whirlpool Corporation and Habitat for Humanity International, the most common definition for a green home among builders and consumer was one that reduces energy and water consumption. About one-third of respondents from both groups agreed.

Twenty-three percent of consumers felt a home must be entirely green, floor to ceiling, to earn the label while 35 percent of builders defined homes as green based on their ability to meet certification standards. This is where well-accepted standards such as the ENERGY STAR designation can be so helpful, both to consumers and building professionals.

The differences are staggering, of course. If achieving green status was as simple as reducing energy and water consumption, consumers could rely on new energy efficient appliances to make their homes green. The survey proves several key factors to building green are often overlooked, including green building processes and the use of alternative materials.

Perhaps the most telling statistic from the survey — 74 percent of consumers claimed less than a quarter of their home can be considered green.

So, while green homes remain somewhat nebulous and undefined, the Whirlpool/Habitat for Humanity survey confirms what we’ve suspected for some time: green remains a huge opportunity in the marketplace.