If your home is certified as energy efficient or green through a third-party certification like Energy Star or LEED, then the answer is yes. Several market studies across the country have shown adding green features will add value to your home. The most recent study in California by University of California Berkley and Los Angeles researchers, looked at 1.6 million single-family homes sales in California from 2007 to 2012, and found that green certification raised the price of a home by 9 percent, or more than $34,800 over non-certified homes.
It's interesting that this added value may exceed the cost of the energy improvements. For example, common features of a third-party certified Energy Star home are insulation, air sealing and efficient HVAC systems, which may be accomplished for less than the increase in the home's value. Other studies also show that people are willing to pay more for an energy efficient, environmentally friendly and healthy home.
In Portland a market analysis of more than 400 home sales showed certified homes sold 18 days faster and for 4.2 percent more. A Seattle market analysis of 268 homes showed certified homes sold for 9.6 percent more, though five days slower. And a Western Washington market analysis of 1,470 homes showed that certified homes sold for 14 percent more.
Realtor associations in Colorado are taking note of this trend and working to increase Realtor education on green features and certifications, so that Realtors can better serve home sellers and buyers. In Colorado, 14 of 16 Multiple Listing Services (MLS) have added searchable green features. The MLS is a database used by real estate brokers to widely share information about properties with other brokers and appraisers. With added green features, Realtors and appraisers can search for an energy-efficient home the same way they would search for a home that has a two-car garage, for example.
Studies also show that 95 percent of homes can identify some sort of green feature, which means adding green features may not exclude very many homes.
For example, if you have re-painted with low VOC paint or added insulation, these would qualify as green features. The research says adding green features increases home value. We have great hopes for the future of energy efficient homes.
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.