According to NAHB-Green, there are now about 120 local and regional green building programs dotting the U.S., most of them managed through local building association chapters affiliated with the NAHB’s program. That’s a four-fold increase since the association introduced its Green Building Guidelines in 2005.

Now, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the overseer of the LEED rating systems and which currently lists more than 70 state and local chapters of its own, wants to tap into those housing-focused programs to proliferate its mission of reducing the carbon footprint of the residential realm.

The LEED for Homes Affiliate Program, launched in August, “ … is an important step forward as we advocate for full marketplace adoption of green home building,” says Nate Kredich, USGBC’s vice president for residential market development. “One of the greatest benefits of the LEED green home certification program is its continual progress and flexibility.”

Those who advocate or affiliate with the NAHB’s Green Building Program, including the guidelines and the more recent ANSI-approved National Green Building Standards, might bristle at the “flexibility” of the LEED for Homes rating system—often criticized in mainstream housing circles as too rigid and costly for market-driven builders to attain.

But at least one NAHB chapter, the HBA of Greater Dallas, has already signed on as a LEED for Homes affiliate (thanks in part to a previous partnership that launched the voluntary Green Built North Texas program), and national-level NAHB staff appear to support the concept, as well.

“We’re glad to see USGBC looking for ways to work with home builders to encourage the growth of green building,” says Kevin Morrow, senior manager for Green Building Standards at the NAHB. “It looks like the organization now recognizes the importance of choices, not mandates, to accelerate this growth, and that is a welcome change for our industry.”

The LEED for Homes Affiliate Program, says Morrow, is simply another program among several, including NAHBGreen and Energy Star, that home builders can follow to build better homes for energy and other resource efficiencies.

“By becoming a LEED for Homes Affiliate, we are providing our members with another tool to remain competitive in a soft market,” echoes Phil Crone of HBA of Greater Dallas.

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Learn more about markets featured in this article: Dallas, TX.