Drivers for energy efficiency decisions in a competitive residential construction market

Kenneth D. Walsh, Howard H. Bashford, David Pijawka, Tanya R. Carinci, Mark Upton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The design and construction of new homes with an eye toward energy efficiency has been touted as both economical (as a result of energy cost savings) and friendly to the environment (as a result of reduced air emissions from power plants). A number of programs and approaches to encourage energy efficiency in new homes have existed in the US. However, the incorporation of energy efficiency into the new housing stock has been slow. It is unclear whether this slow adoption of new ideas results from buyer disinterest or builder reluctance. In this article, the literature on consumer preferences in new homes was consulted to address the consumer perspective for energy efficient construction. The Phoenix metropolitan area, because it is experiencing tremendous growth, was used as a laboratory to evaluate local residential consumer attitudes about energy efficiency in new construction. Several local and national consumer preference studies are reviewed, concluding that while the results are inconclusive, energy efficiency is probably less interesting to consumers than other features of their home. The builder perspective on energy efficiency as a goal in the construction process is somewhat more clear, however. The homebuilding process is reviewed, along with the objectives of the builder in that process. The builder is strongly motivated to emphasize those things that will promote rapid sales, reduce risk, or decrease the cost of production. Energy efficient features are frequently incorporated to the extent that they appear to do these things for the builder, and are avoided when they do not. Given perspective from the builders and the relative indifference of consumers, it is possible to consider what strategies would be effective to promote the incorporation of more energy efficient features in new homes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-32
Number of pages11
JournalCost Engineering (Morgantown, West Virginia)
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Construction
  • Consumer behavior
  • Design
  • Energy efficiency and policy
  • Residential buildings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Engineering
  • General Decision Sciences


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