William Rieser

With energy costs rising faster thanmercury on a hot summer day, builders are increasingly focusing their attention on green building to meet a groundswell of consumer demand.

Not only is green building what buyers want, it is simply the right thing to do. And judging from the interest among NAHB members since the beginning of the year, they are determined to become green building experts and to meet consumer demand for new-home construction that conserves energy and other resources.

The NAHB introduced the new Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in February with the ambitious goal of having 500 people certified by the end of the year. As with our other professional designations, earning the CGP isn’t easy. It requires a significant commitment of time and effort, including 24 hours of classroom instruction. But members obviously think it’s important to learn as much as possible about green building, and the certification program was a success right out of the gate. The NAHB met the annual goal of 500 CGPs before the beginning of June, and hundreds more people are in the process of earning the designation.

Members and HBAs have also embraced the NAHB National Green Building Program that was unveiled at the IBS. Simply put, the program enables any builder in any part of the country to construct green homes.

Its central element is an interactive Web-based scoring tool at NAHBGreen.org that allows the builder and homeowner to choose from a menu of features and materials to build a home that’s as green as they want it to be. A professional verifier will inspect the home once during construction and again after it is finished to ensure that it is authentically green.

One of the strong points of the program is that it is flexible and can be customized to meet specific needs and climate conditions in different parts of the country. Moreover, it is completely voluntary.

Just as individual builders are enthusiastic about the newly launched NAHB National Green Building Program, HBAs are also finding that it meets their needs. Eight state associations are already working to adopt NAHB Green as their official green building program, and many other local and state associations are considering doing the same.

Additionally, the pioneering HBAs that implemented green building certification programs before the NAHB’s was created are finding that the NAHB’s program can readily be integrated into their existing green certification efforts.

Following the introduction of the NAHB National Green Building Program, we have moved on to the next step within the broader effort known as NAHB Green. We recently submitted the new National Green Building Standard to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for approval. In addition to single-family construction, it addresses multifamily homes, residential renovation, and remodeling. And like the NAHB National Green Building Program, it is based on the 2005 NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines.

ANSI approval would demonstrate that all of the transparency, rigor, and inclusiveness of the consensus process have been upheld in developing the NAHB’s standard. And if approved, the National Green Building Standard will be the first residential green building rating system to have the ANSI mark of approval, making it the nationwide benchmark for green homes.

That is very important because it would provide local leaders with an alternative to complicated, expensive, prescriptive programs that don’t necessarily make homes more efficient but definitely make them more expensive.

As the nation’s strongest advocate for home builders—and homeownership—the NAHB has a profound responsibility to ensure that new homes are as resource-efficient and as affordable as possible. With the various elements of NAHB Green, we are fulfilling that responsibility.