Green is a buzzword these days, but it’s not a cure-all, and people perceive its benefits in very different ways. That’s what custom builder Frank Laskey, president of Capital Construction in the Albany, N.Y., suburb of Ballston Spa has learned after going for the green in his homes.

“I think you have to look at green as almost a marketing ploy, pure and simple,” Laskey says candidly. “It’s not easy to calculate the real return on investment when you put in energy-saving technology.”

Laskey first took a green slant on home building in 2004. Along the way, he learned which energy-efficient automated systems buyers understood and wanted and which they didn’t. “If the prospective buyers don’t immediately see the value to them of what you’re installing, it just turns them off,” he says. “If we just add [green] features without doing some research, it actually makes it harder to sell the house.”

What does sell well, Laskey says, are automation systems that open and close blinds, awnings, and windows as the sun and winds shift. “Anything that makes the house less reliant on the HVAC system is immediately understood,” he says. Another desired feature is the ability to control the home’s ­environment remotely.

Laskey is finding that while more buyers are going for a certain suite of green technology, they’re beginning to forgo professionally installed home theaters.

Laskey now builds each home with certain basic but non-­digital environmental attributes including whole-house ventilation, and materials that combine wood and plastic to make the home more durable and lower its maintenance needs. Then buyers can choose from a menu of digital green add-ons.

Dan Daley is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tenn.