If the Builder Concept Home 2011 proves anything, it is that builders have the products, technology, and skill to build a home to any level of energy and resource efficiency they choose, including net-zero, and offer it at a reasonable price point.

More important, the 2,667-square-foot, single-level suburban home in Windermere, Fla., underscores that simply delivering a green-built home—even one that’s affordable—isn’t enough anymore, if it ever was. Not in this economy. Not against resales or foreclosures. Not if green is all you’ve got.

“The housing industry is struggling with how to market green homes,” says Boyce Thompson, editorial director of Builder magazine, a sister publication of EcoHome and co-producer of the 2011 Concept Home, the 13th in the magazine’s annual series. “Buyers don’t get excited about recycled-content drywall. They’re looking for the lifestyle benefits of owning a green home, something they can talk about at cocktail parties and be proud of.”

While it’s tempting to tout the home’s impressive list of integrated products and practices that enabled builder KB Home to achieve a net-zero energy balance and LEED-Platinum certification (see sidebar, page 29), doing so misses the point—and the lesson for pros trying to build value among prospective buyers and earn back their investment in high-performance housing.

“The No. 1 goal in educating consumers about green building is making sure they know what’s in it for them,” says George Glance, president of KB Home’s Central Florida division, which built the home to debut in conjunction with the annual International Builders’ Show in Orlando earlier this year. “If you don’t get that right, you’ll have less success [selling it].”

Bringing Martha Stewart into the mix certainly helped highlight and integrate elements of green living into the concept home. Having partnered with KB Home on several new-home neighborhoods since 2005, America’s lifestyle expert boosted the level of interior finish to create a rich, comfortable, and practical living environment while suggesting elements such as composting, recycling, and vegetable gardening to support her personal environmental interests.