Although new homes and home renovations in the United States increasingly include green elements, the number of LEED-certified homes is only about 20,000. Sean Murphy, a builder in the Long Island Sound area, estimates building to LEED requirements increases construction costs by 20 percent. “As a result, contractors and architects are reluctant to approach clients—even Wall Streeters—with the whole package, and instead suggest energy-efficient windows, foam insulation, and sometimes geothermal heating and cooling systems, which offer a faster payback on their investment,” Murphy says. Some clients do not feel LEED certification will help the resale value of their home. Other elements of LEED requirements, such as solar panels or using only locally accessible materials, are eschewed in favor of more aesthetically pleasing choices. Although solar panels have become more attractive and cost-effective, complex roof styles, large trees, and cost barriers remain. Most customers are not opting for Boniello Builders’ energy-efficient package that adds $100,000 to the cost of a new home. “Especially in today’s market, we’re competing with the used-home market and a lot of distressed sales,” says Jim Boniello. “There are good deals out there these days, and the bottom line is that a lot of buyers I talk to aren’t willing to pay for the extra costs of going green.” | Read More