Washington, D.C., Sept. 15 -- Prospective home buyers want the benefits of an eco-friendly home, but they aren’t willing to pay much for those features, according to survey of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) members released today.

"Although we are seeing significant interest in green building, cost effectiveness is clearly a key concern among home buyers," NAHB chairman Joe Robson, a home builder and developer in Tulsa, Okla., said in a statement. "Builders said that among buyers who are willing to pay more for green features … 57% are unlikely to pay more than an additional 2%."

Meanwhile, only 11% of builders surveyed indicated that customers have asked about environmentally friendly features, but Robson said that pros are increasingly taking the initiative to educate buyers about the benefits of green construction.

The NAHB official said that when Congress considers how to encourage green construction, especially energy efficiency, it must keep affordability in mind. “We need to make sure that our energy policies reflect that reality so that builders have the flexibility … to achieve the desired results at the right price," he added.

Lawmakers also must look for ways to incentivize green construction in the nation's substantial existing housing stock, he continued.

On a final note, preferences for specific green building techniques are regional, according to the NAHB survey, with Western builders reporting much more interest in water efficiency than pros in other areas. Interest in homes built with recycled materials is particularly high in the Northeast, the region where the fewest new houses are built, and low in the South, which has the highest number of housing starts.

Jean Dimeo is Chief Editor, Online for EcoHome.