At the end of a larger discussion about builders constructing more green houses, an industry insider talks about why people buy green homes:
Q: Over the years, industry studies have shown that consumers’ interest in green building has tended to focus on energy conservation; they want to reduce their heating, cooling and appliance costs.
Do they still see green building through that lens of energy efficiency? Are they more motivated to build green for the sake of being green?
A: They’re still energy-oriented. In the most recent study, about two-thirds of consumers who requested green features in their homes said they wanted either to lower energy use or to save money.
In addition, consumer health concerns related to indoor air quality have moved up rapidly among the reasons for requesting green. But concern for the environment was a major issue for only about one-fourth of consumers requesting green.
While it will be interesting to see what green features the new homes of the next few years have, I think this hints at a larger issue with green products: people are more willing to invest in them upfront (in the case of a house) or buy them if they offer savings in the long run. Even with houses, this insider suggests that 30% of people wouldn’t pay extra for green features. The motivation here is not necessarily the earth or all of humanity but rather costs for individuals. This is a very different ideology and seems rooted in a consumeristic mindset.
But what happens when going green requires higher prices – like gasoline or other energy prices – without obvious cost savings for individual consumers? This is a much harder sell.