David Clark

Admit it. We home builders are a prettyconservative crowd. And yes, we are cautious about embracing new technologies, techniques, and products until they are proven to be superior. But we know emerging trends when we see them, and when we know that something is the right thing to do, we make sure it happens.

That’s why the annual NAHB National Green Building Conference celebrated its tenth anniversary this year rather than its first. And it’s the reason the NAHB has invested countless member and staff hours and millions of dollars in developing the voluntary National Green Building ­Guidelines, Program, and Standard, which are collectively known as NAHBGreen.

Through NAHBGreen, builders can construct homes with features that are tailored to their local climate and are energy- and resource-efficient as well as affordable. And looking to the future, that’s exactly what consumers will want. A member survey released during the recent National Green Building Conference in New Orleans shows that green home building will ­compose between 12 percent and 20 percent of the market in the next five years as consumers demand and purchase more resource-efficient homes.

That’s confirmation of what I’m seeing, even as our industry endures a less-than-stellar housing market.

Our green building staff in Washington constantly fields phone calls and e-mails from members asking about how the NAHB National Green Building Program certification works. And our state and local HBAs are forming affiliated green councils and programs so fast that it’s hard to keep track of them.

Before we ever heard about carbon trading systems and alternative energy investments, home builders were devising ways to construct a more efficient building envelope for a tighter house and a lower utility bill. And our suppliers and manufacturers were creating more efficient, easier-to-use insulation products and appliances that use very little electricity.

Homes today are significantly more resource-efficient than in the past, as reflected in engineered-wood products, low-E windows, panelized construction techniques, and other innovations.

About 30 percent of the nation’s energy is consumed by homes for heating, cooling, and electric appliances. The NAHB has long recognized that energy efficiency is crucial to our nation’s continued security and to our economy. Additionally, builders know that building with energy conservation in mind is practical—and it’s profitable.

Our developer members continue to design communities that incorporate walkable neighborhoods and shared open space. Our engineer members continue to discover innovative methods to direct stormwater runoff and reduce pollution in rivers and streams. And professionals throughout the home building industry have stepped up to help mitigate the causes of global warming.

For years, we haven’t called these efforts green building. We’ve called them responding to market demand; as an industry and as an association, that’s what we will continue to do.

The U.S. population is not going to stop growing, and Americans will continue to need places to live that are comfortable and resource-efficient. It’s up to us to continue to innovate to meet demand, just like we have for years.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: New Orleans, LA.