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Builders and Consumers Perceive Green Homes as Affordable to Live in but Expensive to Build

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RISMEDIA, November 20, 2010—Green homes offer a wide variety of benefits from reducing carbon footprints to saving money on utility bills to even improving the health of children. However, a recent Whirlpool Corporation and Habitat for Humanity survey conducted by the NAHB Research Center, polled home builders, as well as consumers, and found many believe there’s a disconnect between living in a green home and purchasing one. Yet, the majority of respondents (64%) indicated that savings from green home features were sometimes worth the added costs and efforts. This finding was consistent across all income level groups for both renters and homeowners.

It’s a particularly difficult position for the majority of homeowners in the United States. The consumer survey, fielded in August 2010 by the NAHB Research Center to gauge perceptions of affordable and green housing, found that the majority of High (67%), Upper Middle (65%), and Middle (59%) income respondents, as well as nearly half of low income respondents (48%), indicated they believe a completely green home would be affordable to live in or maintain. Yet only high-income respondents were more likely to indicate that a completely green home would be affordable to purchase (71%).

“The health benefits, low utility costs and other factors make green homes ideal for all homeowners. However, it takes a united front of manufacturers, builders and organizations to help builders and consumers understand that building green can be affordable,” said Tom Halford, general manager, contract sales and marketing, Whirlpool Corporation. “There’s a need to bridge the perception gap between green-building and affordability, so that builders and families understand that options exist to improve their footprint in the long-term, while saving money and resources in the short-term.”

The builder survey, fielded July-August 2010 to members of the Research Center’s Online Builder Panel, found that 87% believe green homes are affordable for middle income families to live in, while 30% felt green homes were too expensive for the segment to purchase or build. For low-income families, 70% of home builders believe green homes are affordable to live in, and nearly 60% of builders thought green homes were too expensive for low-income families to purchase or build.

“Under Habitat’s nonprofit construction model, Habitat affiliates across the United States are incorporating sustainable materials and energy-efficient products in Habitat homes, as this is both a responsible building practice and it improves the affordability of homes for Habitat partner homeowners,” said Larry Gluth, senior vice president of U.S. and Canada for Habitat for Humanity International. “The challenge is to help people understand that building green doesn’t mean it can’t be affordable too.”

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses, which are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with affordable loans. Whirlpool Corporation donates a range and Energy Star qualified refrigerator to every Habitat home built nationally, totaling more than 110,000 appliances to-date. The company supports Habitat in its mission globally, and beginning in 2011 will support every Habitat home via home sponsorship, product donation or volunteerism.

For more information, visit www.habitat.org and www.whirlpool.com.

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