Top 5 Green Products and Systems Customers Are Asking About

Sustainability and Green Building

What types of high-performing green products and systems are customers requesting? The 2020 Green Single Family and Multifamily Homes SmartMarket Brief surveyed and analyzed responses from builders and remodelers before the onset of COVID-19, but these results can still serve as a benchmark to help building professionals fine-tune their business models. NAHB anticipates that customers, who have spent months in their homes, have developed a heightened awareness of what efficient, comfortable and healthy means to them, and builders and remodelers need to be ready to meet these needs.

According to the study, consumers are most interested in products and systems that directly impact utility bills and indoor environmental quality. More than half (57%) of builders and remodelers rank products/systems related to energy efficiency as the primary request they receive from home owners, and most (84%) rank it in their top three. About half of respondents rank products/systems impacting indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and conserving water, as well as renewable energy systems, in their top three. Roughly a quarter ranked material and resource conserving products/systems in their top three, with only 1% ranking them first.

How are builders and remodelers translating these consumer asks into their projects? The table shows some of the most widely used practices among all survey respondents compared to those identifying as 'green builders’ (doing more than 50% green projects as defined in the survey). The percentages reflect how many respondents in each group are using a practice on more than 50% of their projects.

Category High-Performance Practice All Respondents Builders/Remodelers doing ≥ 50% green projects
Energy LED lighting 85% 91%
Insulation > code minimums 63% 82%
Windows > code-mandated performance 62% 75%
Blower door testing 53% 73%
Balanced ventilation (ERV/HRV) 28% 45%
Obtain HERS score 26% 51%
IEQ Direct outdoor ventilation of fans/exhausts 72% 81%
Low-VOC materials 54% 67%
Increased moisture control 37% 50%
Increased ventilation 28% 45%
Water High-efficiency plumbing fixtures 72% 81%
Water-conserving appliances 60% 72%
Efficient plumbing techniques 54% 67%
Drought-tolerant landscaping 26% 41%
Materials Durable materials 68% 84%
Minimize construction waste 61% 78%
Prefabricated components 50% 59%
Renewables Solar energy 8% 16%
Geothermal 9% 13%

Understanding trends in both the overall market, as well as the green-building landscape, provides a jumping off point for building professionals when discussing what customers want in a new home or remodel. Having that conversation in a way that speaks to consumers' hot buttons of efficiency, comfort and health may help make that next high-performance home sale.

The 2020 SmartMarket Brief — the latest in a series of studies conducted by Dodge Data & Analysis, in partnership with NAHB — also contains results on builders' perspectives on green-building market activity, costs and trends, marketing green homes an drivers and obstacles for green building. The full report is available for free download at

For more details about NAHB's sustainable and green building initiatives, contact David Faulconer. To stay current on high-performance residential building, follow NAHB’s Sustainability and Green Building team on Twitter.

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