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The Value of Green Labels in the California Housing Market

The residential sector accounts for 33 percent of electricity consumption in the U.S., with a total expenditure of $166 billion in 2010. Increasing the energy efficiency of the durable housing stock can thus provide significant cost savings for consumers. One promising trend is the rise of homes labeled by a third party as “green” or energy efficient. The modeled energy consumption of such homes is substantially lower as compared to conventional homes of the same vintage. This paper provides the first systematic evidence on the effects of green labels attesting to the energy efficiency and sustainability of homes on consumer choice. We conduct a hedonic pricing analysis of all single-family home sales in California over the time period 2007 to 2012, documenting that homes labeled with Energy Star, LEED or Greenpoint Rated, transact for a premium of nine percent relative to otherwise comparable, non-labeled homes. Given the large size of this effect, we explore its robustness and examine a number of different hypotheses, focusing on recovering heterogeneous effects. The results show that both environmental ideology and local climatic conditions play a role in explaining the variation in the green premium across geographies.

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