WHEN ENERGY PRICES SOARED IN THE LATE 1970s, the NAHB was the first organization to step forward and introduce voluntary energy guidelines for new residential construction, and the energy efficiency of new housing about doubled in a matter of years.

With our recent introduction of voluntary Model Green Home Building Guidelines, we have propelled market-driven green building into the mainstream and are encouraging all of our members to get on board.

Why are we doing this? Because interest in green building is greater than ever, largely due to consumer demand for environmentally friendly, cost-effective homes.

The NAHB's voluntary Model Green Home Building Guidelines were designed to help mainstream builders incorporate environmental practices into every phase of the home building process, while simultaneously making housing affordability a priority.

The NAHB's guidelines are unique compared to other proposed residential green building guidelines and standards because they are designed to help all builders—not just niche builders—construct energy-efficient, environmentally sensitive new homes without adding any costly and mandatory regulations to the building process.

The guidelines are not a one-size-fits-all prescription. More than 60 stakeholders, who represent a broad cross section of the home building industry, collaborated with us to craft guidelines that are as flexible as they are effective. They were developed for new single-family homes but can be adapted for multifamily and custom development and remodeling projects as well. They are also adaptable to different climate conditions and building techniques.

The NAHB's Model Green Home Building Guidelines offer instructions based on several guiding principles. For instance, preparing and designing lots to reduce development's impact on vegetation, soil, and water can also enhance long-term performance. Using resources, energy, and water efficiently will help make the most of building materials and help homeowners save money on utility bills. Carefully managing moisture, ventilation, and off gases can help those with allergies and respiratory ailments live and breathe in a more comfortable indoor living environment. And with a little education from us, homeowners can use and maintain their home optimally.

Builders are the folks who will be putting these guidelines into practice, but we also see them as a tool to help local HBAs get formally involved in the green building movement.

Local green building programs are currently operating in more than 30 areas of the country (10 HBA and 20 municipal), all of which have developed their own ways to certify and promote green homes. Through our partnership with the Green Building Initiative, a nonprofit organization, the NAHB will help other interested local associations establish their own programs.

The NAHB's green building guidelines went from conception to consensus building to implementation in just under a year. Consumer demand is growing as quickly, and affordable technology is rapidly following.