One of the most significant obstacles to green home building today is the prevailing myth among builders that consumers care about energy efficiency only because an energy-efficient home will cost less to operate.

Many consumers care about energy efficiency. And, yes, a portion of those care about it because it will save them money. But some consumers believe strongly in energy efficiency as principle; these buyers believe builders should build energy-efficient homes and, in turn, they themselves should buy energy-efficient homes because it’s the right thing to do.

The green home market will double from 2013 to 2016, according to McGraw Hill Construction’s SmartMarket report

When it comes to effective green marketing, remember that consumers are a complex bunch. There is no universal way to motivate everyone, and successfully marketing green homes can be tricky. You must connect with prospective buyers by understanding their expectations and values, which usually means crafting distinct messages for the various segments you’re targeting.

Don’t care about green right now? You can’t afford not to. The green home market is growing rapidly and, according to McGraw Hill Construction’s most recent SmartMarket report, it will double from 2013 to 2016—from $37 billion (27 percent of market) to approximately $90 billion (up to 33 percent of market).

Another notable report, Nielsen’s “Doing Well by Doing Good,” examines whether consumers really engage in conscious capitalism when it comes to its buying decisions. Nielsen polled 30,000 consumers and found that many claimed they were willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.

3,000 consumers were polled in Nielsen’s “Doing Well by Doing Good” report who say they’re willing to pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive and social environmental impact

That’s great, but saying you will pay more and actually paying extra are two different things. That’s why it’s even more telling that a review of retail sales data for a cross-section of both consumable and non-consumable categories across 20 brands showed an annual sales increase of 2 percent for products with sustainability claims on packaging, and a rise of 5 percent for products that promoted sustainability actions through marketing programs. Brands without sustainability claims or marketing enjoyed a sales rise of only 1 percent.

In the aggregate, this research points to increasing consumer behavior that rewards products with a positive environmental impact. But how can a builder turn consumer interest in green homes into a contract of sale?

Deliver an enhanced value proposition

A green home offers greater value to a home buyer. Your green homes are better than the other code-minimum homes any buyer is considering. Make sure they know National Green Building Standard certified homes cost less to operate, perform better, and match their social, environmental, and other values.

Talk about sustainability optimistically

Often, marketing language about sustainability seems to reflect some sort of sacrifice. Needless to say, this can be highly demotivating for the consumer. Your marketing materials and your sales staff need to speak about the extra value and tangible benefits that green homes can deliver, thereby changing the conversation from sacrifice to satisfaction.

Make sustainability tangible

Consumer research often finds that people want to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but many are not sure how or where to start. Show consumers how sustainability is directly relevant to their lives and aspirations, and how “I” can benefit when purchasing a green home.

Deliver products and services that people want

The challenge of successful green home sales is not just about improved communication. Builders also need to deliver homes with the aesthetics, products, features, and technologies that consumers want. Don’t resist reliable trend data on consumer preferences just because they don’t match your own.

To better communicate the value of green to buyers and turn cynicism into sales, visit