Energy Star®-rated appliances are the green feature that Millennials want the most in a home (75 percent), according to an NAHB report, What Home Buyers Really Want (Figure 1, click on bars for total shares). The report is based on a survey that asks prospective and recent home buyers about the features they want in a home or a community. As part of the survey, respondents were asked to rate over 175 features (including green features) on a four-tier scale of essential/must have, desirable, indifferent, and do not want. Breaking down the share who want Energy Star®-rated appliances shows that 44 percent consider the feature desirable and 31 percent consider it an essential/must have.
Energy Star® ratings are clearly important to Millennials, as the second most-wanted green feature is an Energy Star® rating for the whole home: 71 percent of them want this (47 percent say it’s desirable and 25 percent say it’s an essential/must have). The next most-wanted features continues to show that energy efficiency is a significant factor: 70 percent want efficient lighting, 63 percent want more insulation than what code requires, 56 percent want a net zero home, 54 percent want thermal heating/cooling, and 53 percent want locally-produced materials.
Figure 1 also shows that considerable shares of Millennials want sustainable materials used in the construction of their home. At least 52 percent want components built using certified sustainably-harvested lumber and home components made from recycled materials. Another 52 percent want barrels/cisterns to collect rainwater for irrigation, toilet flushing, etc., indicating that Millennials want to reduce their water usage as well.
For several green features, Millennials have diverging preferences compared to older generations. Figure 2 shows the green features with the largest percentage point differences between Millennials and Seniors (at least 20 percentage points). Although a significant share of Millennials want Energy Star® appliances (75 percent), its popularity grows even more with age: 83 percent of Gen X’ers want it, 89 percent of Boomers, and almost all Seniors (96 percent). More than half of Millennials — 52 percent — want barrels/cisterns to collect rainwater for irrigation, but interest in this feature falls with age, dropping to just 29 percent of Seniors.
Although in the minority, substantial shares of Millennials want roof-mounted electric wind turbines (48 percent), prefabricated components (45 percent) and roofs partially or completely covered by plants (44 percent). Demand for these three features falls significantly with age, however. Twenty-seven percent of Seniors want roof-mounted turbines, 21 percentage points below the share of Millennials who want it, and only 16 percent of Seniors want prefabricated components, 29 percentage points below that of Millennials. The share of buyers who want roofs partially or completed covered by plants essentially drops to zero among Seniors (5 percent), 39 percentage points below the Millennial share.
The NAHB What Home Buyers Really Want report shows that Millennials want to include green features in their home. It also shows that Millennials have a strong preference for certain green features compared to older generations, such as prefabricated components and garden rooftops.
For additional information, an August 2019 NAHB study showed the history of Millennials’ preferences for select housing characteristics. The greatest level of detail—including preferences for hundreds of items broken down by generation, by geography, first-time vs. repeat buyer, household composition, race, income, and price expected to pay for the home—is available in the 2019 edition of What Home Buyers Really Want.