Green Building Programs Led to 100K Certified Green Homes

Green Building Programs Led to 100K Certified Green Homes

According to results of a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, voluntary, builder-supported green building programs have built and certified more than 97,000 green homes since the mid-1990s.

The new figures represent a more than 50 percent jump from the last survey, which in 2004 found that 61,000 green homes had been built in the U.S.

"This astounding number is yet another indication that market-driven programs, not mandates, are the best way to encourage the growth of green building," said NAHB President Brian Catalde, a Southern California home builder. "The home building industry is leading efforts to make homes more energy- and resource-efficient."

The NAHB has been behind several programs designed to encourage green building programs, including the publication in 2004 of its Model Green Home Building Guidelines, which aims to help its local associations establish their own climate-specific, market-appropriate programs. And by early 2008, the association plans to have created a residential green building standard, accredited by the American National Standards Institute.

NAHB is collaborating with the International Codes Council to develop the green building standard, which will bring uniformity to sustainable building. The standard will serve as a baseline for green building programs without abandoning the proven principle that voluntary, region- specific, flexible programs can be truly green and also allow for innovation.

"The success of these regional programs is something that's very important to keep in mind as the residential green building standard comes closer to completion," Catalde said. "The new standard won't replace these programs, but it will provide builders all over the country with common ground -- a green baseline that everyone can agree on."

The NAHB's survey cited several major success stories, including:
  • Built Green Colorado, a program of the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver, which has certified 33,000 homes since its inception in 1995 and hosts a "Built Green University" program to educate hundreds of area builders and other industry members around the country.
  • Built Green Washington's network of 10 regional programs, run by local home builder associations, has certified 15,000 homes.
  • The Southern Nevada Home Builders Association Green Building Partnership, which launched last fall, has been recognized as the official -- and voluntary -- green building program for the city of Las Vegas. The Nevada program is based on the Model Guidelines, adjusted to reflect the desert climate and water scarcity.
"The Southern Nevada HBA's program is a great example of the beauty of these guidelines," Catalde noted. "There is no one-size-fits-all solution to green home building. Programs must be flexible, dynamic and market-based -- that's the way that green building constantly improves."

Other special projects built based on the NAHB's new guidelines include "The New American Home" in Orlando, Fla., a 2007 demonstration home built in conjunction with the International Builders' Show; a student-built home by a Lancaster County, Pa., technical school program and the Mainstream Green Home in Raleigh, N.C.

"We know that green building has left the niche-market category: 97,000 certified homes in just over a decade is incredible," Catalde said. "This also demonstrates how market acceptance, rather than mandates, really benefits both the consumer and the industry."