Green living is recognized overall as the right thing to do to protect the environment, improve our health and literally to save our planet. As an added bonus, green home improvement can raise your financial bottom line by increasing the value of your home. Researchers at the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses of the University of California conducted a study of 1.6 million single family homes in the California market sector that sold between 2007 and 2012 to analyze the value of green home labels. Of the homes in this sample population, 4,300 were certified with green home labels from EnergyStar, GreenPoint Rated or LEED for Homes. Results indicate that of the average California homes priced at $400,000, residences with green labels sold for about $34,800 more or 9 percent higher than homes without the green label.

Researchers have labeled this result the “Prius effect” wherein a higher premium was placed on houses with green labels. This finding correlates with the environmental ideology of the area measured by the registration of hybrid vehicles. In communities where “green thinking” predominates, ownership of green homes and cars is a status symbol and a source of pride.

In recent years, awareness of the extent of global warming and the increase of greenhouse emissions has impacted the housing market significantly. This is especially true in warmer areas of the country. Residents in hotter climates are paying extra attention to the benefits of green homes, which include lower utility bills due to greater energy and water efficiency, healthier indoor air quality and improved environmental features, such as convenient access to clean, eco-friendly transportation and close proximity to parks and shopping and entertainment facilities.

The Prius effect is proof that green initiatives at the community level are far-reaching. Improving communities one at a time leads to a change in mindset and ultimately to a revolution. Let’s live green, be green.