While there are specialty homebuilders that focus entirely on green building, it’s probably safe to say that the majority of new homebuyers purchase their home from a national builder. Calvert Investments recently reassessed the sustainability measures employed by the nation’s top 10 publicly traded homebuilders and KB Home and Pulte came out on top again.

This year’s report is an update to a similar report released in 2008. During the past two years, homebuilders have increased their focus on sustainability but there is still much room for improvement. Each homebuilder received a grade, with a score of 42 being the max, and the average total score was a tad over six. Yes, six points out of 42 or roughly 15 percent. These scores are an improvement over 2008 but there is definitely room for significant improvement in the coming years.

Rebecca Henson, sustainability analyst at Calvert Asset Management Co., Inc discusses this year’s results:

“Our survey of the 10 largest publicly traded U.S. homebuilders finds an evolving landscape. Whereas two years ago the industry had not yet begun to embrace sustainability as a core part of building design and construction, companies today have taken many meaningful steps toward developing greener and cleaner homes. Much of this progress may be attributable to companies’ recognition of the environmental, societal, and economic benefits of green building, as well as the critical roles that engaged stakeholders have diligently played over the past decade. However, given the environmental impact that homebuilding has, the industry has significantly more progress to make.”

While KB Home and Pulte received the highest scores, Calvert also recognized three homebuilders for their noticeable progress from 2008 – Toll Brothers, Meritage and Standard Pacific.

Overall, the 2010 Green Homebuilder Rankings look like this:

  1. KB Home
  2. Pulte Homes
  3. Meritage Homes
  4. Toll Brothers
  5. Lennar
  6. DR Horton
  7. Standard Pacific
  8. NVR
  9. Ryland Group
  10. MDC Holdings
Over the past several months, I’ve spent quite a bit of time house hunting. I’ve been in the sales centers of several of these companies including Pulte Homes, Meritage Homes, Lennar and Standard Pacific plus I’ve been researching a new Toll Brothers community being developed in my area. Of all of the homebuilders that I’ve visited, Meritage Homes seemed to have the most prominent green home displays.

The two Meritage Homes communities I visited had very visible green building displays in the sales centers including a comprehensive list of benefits. Additionally, the model homes were labeled with energy efficient standard features so that customers could see where and how they would save money.

My personal experience with Meritage Homes seems to mirror one of the findings in the report — homebuilders are paying more attention to green building measures that provide near-term financial benefits to customers. In this economy most customers want to see how they are going to save money on their monthly utility bills and are less concerned about the long-term environmental effects. Homebuilders are giving customers what they want but according to the Calvert report, they really need to address these long-term issues as well.

Personally, I think that the nation’s top homebuilders have a long road ahead of them. They need to focus more on sustainability because an average score of 15 percent is not something to be proud of. Yes, improvement over 2008 should be recognized, but I don’t know of anyone that would be excited about a 15 percent score.

Calvert ranks the nation's top homebuilders
KB Home and Pulte are recognized as being among the greenest of the top 10 publicly traded homebuilders in the nation.