EcoHome’s National Economic Survey of architects, builders, remodelers, and contractors shows a mixture of sad reality, cautious optimism, and strong hope for green building when the markets finally recover. And while most of the results were split between “green” respondents already working in green building and “non-green” respondents not yet involved, a large majority of all respondents agreed on the positive direction and potential for green building to emerge when the recession ends. Even 57% of non-green respondents believe that green building will lead all other trends when the housing industry re-emerges.
Results are based on 451 completed surveys returned from building professionals in 48 states: 64.5% of respondents design or build green homes; 35.5% do not; 92% of all respondents work in new single-family detached, 24% also design or build new single-family attached, and 24% are active in multifamily markets.
Compared with market conditions three years ago, only 7% of respondents described their markets as growing, 9% as about the same, 13% reported a 5% drop, 18% said their market was down 5%–10%, 17% reported a 10%–20% drop, and 36% reported a decline of more than 20%.
Most of the green respondents (60.4%) feel that green building is helping their businesses survive. And there is a strong perception among non-green respondents that green building could help their companies weather the storm; 71% of these respondents said they believe that now would be a good time to enter green markets. As one non-green builder put it, “Now would be a good time to revise our product, both for the good of the environment and future sales.”
However, just a minority of respondents shared the perception that green builders are doing better than non-green builders in today’s markets: Only 38% of green respondents and 11% of non-green respondents said this is true in their locations.
Many of those surveyed in both groups identified cost control as one of the greatest challenges facing green building, and this has become even more meaningful these past few months with pros seeking to reduce hard costs to remain competitive.
When asked how much cost green features add to their projects (if any), most green respondents (39%) reported increased costs of 10%–19%, while 34% of them said their features add 5%–9% to their costs.
Click here to download the survey results. (PDF) We will continue to monitor and report on green building and the economy at the EcoHome Web site and through our electronic newsletters and blogs.