Going Green - Marketing the Intangibles

Many green homes are marketed only in terms of reduced energy, simply because it's the easiest to quantify. While energy reduction is important, many people are willing to pay a premium for green features beyond those that simply save money.

A 2007 study by Green Builder Media revealed that home buyers are willing to pay 11 to 25 percent more for green homes [source: Sekine-Pettite]. In a separate study by the National Association of Homebuilders, 50 percent of home buyers who were interested in green homes were motivated by health factors and environmental impact more than any other reason [source: Perkins]. This means that while many green home buyers are looking to save money on energy bills, half are motivated by nonmonetary factors and are willing to pay a premium for their home if it satisfies these criteria.

By following the energy saving steps in the previous section, you're already on your way to helping the Earth. But there are other methods you can incorporate that may further reduce your impact.

Water supply has reached a critically low level worldwide, and yet, it's still wasted far too often. In the United States, close to 60 percent of water is used for irrigation and landscaping [source: Clemson University]. To reduce your impact, consider drip irrigation, rain barrels and the use of native plants. Inside the home, water reduction can be achieved through the use of low-flow plumbing fixtures.

Homeowners can also impact the environment with their choice of materials. By choosing rapidly renewable resources, such as bamboo, linoleum, cork and wheat board, homeowners can ensure that their furnishings and flooring will have minimal impact on trees and other resources with long regrowth periods. To help reduce carbon emissions, choose materials produced locally. To further reduce your impact, install reclaimed materials, such as salvaged wood floors, recycled bricks or masonry, and refinished furnishings.

Many fans of the green building movement are most interested in the impact that our homes can have on our health. To make your home healthy, focus on materials with low VOC content. VOC's, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals used to produce most furnishings, paints, floorings and adhesives.

Another characteristic of a healthy home is breathability. As houses are built tighter to help reduce energy bills, natural ventilation is reduced. By installing a central ventilation system, you can market your home as not only green, but healthier.