Green Homes Get Affordable

06/12/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Sep 28, 2011

One of the biggest issues in the real estate community is how to develop green properties while making a profit. This alone has been a deterrent over the past decade for many developers. One of the common refrains has been that it's just "too expensive" to develop ecofriendly; home buyers simply won't pay for the added costs of a green home. Of course, the price differential between a green home and one that is not has narrowed substantially as more and more products and services have entered the marketplace. However, while many real estate companies are now adopting green principles to guide new developments, there remains a price differential, between those who can afford a green home and those who can't, that hasn't been addressed. That is, until now.

Clayton Homes, based in Maryville, Tenn., the largest manufactured housing company in the United States, started its business in 1934, in the depths of the Great Depression. Now, in the midst of the worst financial crisis since that time, Clayton Homes has introduced the "i-house" -- probably the first really affordable green home. There has been much media coverage over the past few weeks about the i-house and all of its ecofriendly designs, amenities, etc. However, what is really intriguing is how one company is literally taking on two of the biggest challenges of our time -- the protection of the environment and the economic struggles of the average homeowner.

In order for the green economy to be a truly unifying and universal shift in how we live, it cannot be a closed community where only the haves are allowed membership. Clayton Homes is moving in a similar direction to Wal-Mart and other large corporations that cater to the middle class, with the embracing of the green era. The more green and sustainable products that become available to people in all areas of the economic spectrum, the more widespread environmentalism will become. Not only will Clayton Homes bring green homes to those who previously could not afford them, but they are also going to profit handsomely by it.