Since its widespread inception in 2000, LEED has established a large footprint in the building industry, recently surpassing over one billion square feet. According to Sustainable Business, there are six billion square feet of projects currently under construction or awaiting LEED registration that will further expand its footprint. "This traction demonstrates the transformation of the way we design, build and operate buildings," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair, USGBC told Sustainable Business. "Not only does green building contribute to saving energy, water and money, it also creates green jobs that will grow and energize our economy."

However, a new survey conducted by Whirlpool Corporation and Habitat for Humanity International reveals that home builders and consumers associate green building with additional building expenses. The survey, conducted by the NAHB Research Center, found that of those who responded, over 67 percent of high income, 65 percent of upper middle income and 59 percent of middle income people feel that a green home is an affordable option to own and maintain. What’s interesting is that 71 percent of high income respondents felt that green homes are affordable; leaving the majority of the respondents in the other income categories to feel that purchasing a green home would be a financial hinderence.

"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 in a statement. "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."

In a survey of builders, over 87 percent felt that green homes were an affordable option for middle income families and 70 percent felt the same about lower income families. "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 in a statement. "The challenge is to help people understand that building green doesn't mean it can't be affordable too."

Source: Whirlpool, Habitat for Humanity, Sustainable Business

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