Green building is the fastest-growing trend in our industry, and I am proud to say that the NAHB is leading the way in the effort to make new homes greener and better.

Several years ago, the NAHB set about creating a voluntary system for rating energy and resource efficiency in new homes, renovations, and land development. Now known as the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard, this scoring system uses a color-coded scale to indicate a home or project’s level of “greenness.” To date, it is the only residential green standard to win approval from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The NAHB Research Center, which was instrumental in developing the standard, administers the certification program using expert verifiers throughout the country to ensure that homes meet its requirements.

The scoring system is flexible and can be applied to homes in various geographies and climate zones without compromising the “greenness” of a home or project. To date, more than 1,200 homes nationwide have been certified.

Another indication of our commitment to green building is that more than 5,200 builders, remodelers, and other industry professionals have earned the Certified Green Professional designation since the program began in 2008. Demand for advanced education and professional credentials in the green field is so strong that the NAHB introduced the first course for a new Master Green Professional designation in May during the annual Green Building Conference.

One of the most encouraging trends noted during the conference is that green homes and concepts are becoming increasingly prevalent in the more affordable housing market. With their lower operating costs, green homes are a natural for the affordable market.

An issue of concern reported at the conference involves appraisals and mortgages that do not reflect the additional savings in operating and maintenance costs that consumers can expect from a green home. The problem is twofold: The majority of appraisers generally do not recognize the value that green features add to the home, and mortgage lenders don’t take the lower energy and maintenance costs into consideration when making loans. The result is that buyers cannot get the full financing that they need to purchase a green home. 

To address this issue, the Appraisal Institute has initiated a seminar on green building and is presenting webinars on the subject as well. And in collaboration with a number of groups including the NAHB, the Appraisal Institute, and the U.S. Green Building Council, the National Association of Realtors has created the Green MLS Toolkit. The toolkit is a guide that will help local multiple listing services implement a green initiative that will highlight the “green” attributes of listed homes and make it easier for buyers to identify homes with the features they want. Likewise, having a consistent listing of green features will make it easier for appraisers to see the extra value they add to the property.

The greening of home building represents a fundamental shift in the way that we build new homes, develop new communities, and renovate existing homes. It is definitely a work in progress, and these are just a few of the many issues that the NAHB is addressing in the ongoing effort to move green building into the mainstream.