You might think that all the talk about green among consumers and the mainstream media, along with the growing focus on green home building, indicates an understanding of what green means. But according to Eco Pulse, a recently released consumer study, for most homeowners and buyers that just isn't the case.

The Eco Pulse study, conducted by energy and sustainability advertising agency the Shelton Group, reports that though 55 percent of consumers surveyed said having a green home is important, nearly 42 percent could not actually name a single feature of a green home: Solar power was cited by 28 percent, compact fluorescent light bulbs by 12 percent, energy-efficient or Energy Star appliances by 10 percent, and high-efficiency heating and cooling by only 2.5 percent. Clearly, there's a lot of homeowner education still necessary.

According to the study, the consumers surveyed knew the green buzz words, but 56 percent could define the term "green" (as applied to homes and products) only generically as "eco-friendly" or "environmentally friendly." Eight percent couldn't define what green means at all. Another eight percent defined green as "energy-efficient" and five percent defined the term as "natural or chemical-free."

Early in the study, the Shelton Group asked consumers to choose from a list of 17 home features the ones they thought were required to make a home green. Respondents checked an average of 10.4 features as necessary, showing a belief that creating a green home requires an all-or-nothing approach.

The study also reports the reasons consumers gave for purchasing a green home product, which tended toward financial impact rather than environmental impact. Forty-nine percent said they would purchase a green product to reduce energy bills and save money, while reducing environmental impact was the reasoning for 31 percent of consumers; creating a healthier home was the choice of 13 percent.

Eco Pulse's authors advise those involved in marketing green products or homes to make the selection and decision-making process simpler, easier, and less overwhelming for consumers.