Homeowners want energy-efficient homes, but only if the price is right, according to a new survey from the National Association of Home Builders.

NAHB surveyed its members and found that prospective home buyers want the benefits of new, more efficient homes, but are unwilling to pay much more for a “green” home.

“Although we are seeing significant interest in green building, cost effectiveness is clearly a key concern among home buyers,” said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a home builder and developer in Tulsa, Okla. “Builders said that among buyers who are willing to pay more for green features, more than half -57 percent - are unlikely to pay more than an additional 2 percent.”

The August survey coincides with news that the NAHB’s nationwide green program continues to grow. More than 400 homes, developments and remodeling projects have been certified by the NAHB’s research center, which administers the program and trains and accredits local project verifiers. Of those projects, 43 have been certified to the National Green Building Standard, approved earlier this year by the American National Standards Institute.

NAHB officials point out that preferences for specific green building techniques are decidedly regional, with builders in the West reporting much more interest in water efficiency than builders in other areas. Interest in homes built with recycled materials is particularly high in the Northeast and low in the South.

Only 11 percent of builders nationwide indicated that their customers ask about environmentally friendly features, according to the survey.

“Fortunately, our members are increasingly taking the initiative to educate the home-buying public about the benefits of green construction,” Robson said.

Overall, energy efficiency continues to be the primary factor driving the green building movement, squaring with previous NAHB surveys of home builders when asked about buyer preferences.

“More and more, our members are able to convince their clients of the benefits of a home built with efficiency and sustainability in mind,” Robson said. “However, when buyers prepare to sign on the dotted line, cost-effectiveness clearly drives their decisions. We need to make sure that our energy policies reflect that reality so that builders have the flexibility to use lot and site design, high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment and other features to achieve the desired results at the right price.”