Energy Efficiency Leads to Demand for ‘Green’

WASHINGTON, DC— A growing share of American homeowners are concerned with utility costs, which has led to an increase in demand for energy-efficient solutions and an increased popularity in home offices, according to the latest in a series of quarterly surveys conducted by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The AIA’s latest Home Design Trend Survey, which focused on systems, technologies and functional rooms in the home, also reported “healthy business conditions” in the home improvement sector during the second quarter of 2007. The survey, whose results were released last month, was conducted among a panel of 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector, according to the Washington, DC-based AIA.

“As the environment and utility prices become more scrutinized, homeowners are demanding more energy-efficient products and sustainable designs,” commented AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “Structural insulation panels, geothermal heating/cooling systems, tankless water heaters and green flooring products such as bamboo and cork are all in high consumer demand,” Baker said (see related story at below).

In addition, a number of systems and technologies are being sought by homeowners, the AIA reported. Among them are wireless telcom/data, energy management, automated lighting and air purification, the survey concluded.

The AIA poll revealed that 91% of registered voters said they would be willing to pay $5,000 more for a house that would use less energy and protect the Earth, the trade association reported.

For the third straight year, home offices are the most popular special function room, the AIA reported. Other sought-after
spaces include hobby/game rooms, au pair/in-law suites and media/home theaters, the association added.

“Homeowners are looking for more than just a desk in a bedroom,” observed Louis Smith, chair of the AIA Small Projects Practitioners Committee. “They are looking for additional acoustic privacy, better natural lighting and even separate entry for clients.”

The market environment for home improvement projects – both for additions and alterations as well as kitchen and bath remodels – was reported “as very healthy, even though growth is not as strong as it was a year ago,” the AIA said.