May 15, 2007 – The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today told Congress how its members are bringing green building to the mainstream by developing affordable, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly construction techniques.
Testifying before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, NAHB Green Building Subcommittee Chair Ray Tonjes, a custom builder from Austin, Texas, noted that the recent strength and growth of green building is due in large part to its voluntary nature, which provides builders and developers the flexibility that is essential for incorporating the principles of sustainable design.
NAHB is also collaborating with the International Code Council to bring uniformity to sustainable building by developing a residential green building standard, based on the two-year-old NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, Tonjes said.
“Voluntary, market-driven green building standards are preferable to mandates, which can reduce the incentive and the market pressure to adapt and to change,” said Tonjes. “NAHB members have proven that a voluntary, region-specific, flexible program can be both truly green and also allow for innovation.”
Tonjes pointed out the advantages of NAHB’s guidelines, unveiled in January 2005 and derived from a consensus of 60 industry stakeholders, including environmentalists, building product manufacturers, architects and research consortia. There are now 18 local green building programs based on the guidelines.
“The shining hallmark of the guidelines is that every aspect of the construction industry was involved in forming these criteria so that every builder, large and small, could easily adopt the practices,” he said. “Because of the current flexibility in green building options, builders will be able to successfully adjust to the shifting market demand for greener homes.”
And unlike competing outside interests, Tonjes noted that NAHB has no financial stake in the success of its Model Green Home Building Guidelines.
“In short, the guidelines allow builders to make decisions that positively impact energy efficiency, resource conservation and indoor environmental quality throughout the entire design and construction process,” said Tonjes. “Green means doing the right thing for the builder, the home owner and most importantly, the environment.”
Additionally, NAHB and the International Code Council are working to establish the first and only national residential green building standard that will be certified and accredited by the American National Standards Institute. This process includes input from a diverse group of stakeholders, including the U.S. Green Building Council, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, numerous city and state housing officials, product manufacturers, insulation manufacturers, architects and some of the nation’s largest production home builders.
The National Green Building Standard will apply to all residential construction, including land development, multifamily homes and remodeling, and is expected to be completed in early 2008.
Congress can help in this important effort, Tonjes said, by keeping the market free of mandates, striving towards the greatest energy- and resource-efficient buildings available and extending and expanding federal tax credits that passed as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Federal tax credits encourage the construction of new energy efficient homes, promote the use of energy-saving home improvements for existing homes and spur new innovation that will result in even greater energy savings in the residential built environment.