Trickle. Trickle. Trickle. This week’s releases of housing data must have felt like a statistical form of Chinese water torture to builders, from sliding home prices and weak existing-home sales to high new-home inventories and rising foreclosures. In Indianapolis, a veteran home building firm shut down after more than a half-century in business.

As if all those headlines weren't bad enough, a story in the New York Times suggests that granite countertops, the must-have of the housing boom, could be hazardous to homeowners’ health in the form of high levels of radiation.

We’ll just let that one sink in for a minute.

Perhaps construction defect and personal injury lawyers who pursued mold claims with such mania won’t be so interested in suing builders now that so many—including Ryland and Pulte—are reporting quarterly losses these days.

At least the House passed the housing bill, after White House Press Secretary Dana Perino told reporters in a morning briefing that President George W. Bush would sign the legislation, despite objections to nearly $4 billion in community development block grants for dealing with distressed properties.

Now the Senate just needs to finish it up and send it to the White House for approval. Will they finish by their August recess? Perhaps we should add a question to BUILDER’s new Prediction Center

Despite the downturn, green building remains a hot topic among builders, buyers, and government officials. Both California and Florida have recently adopted new building codes that stress energy efficiency and other principles of sustainable building. But they aren’t the only places where green building is happening, as you soon shall read. --Alison Rice 

Boyce on Building: Green Galore

If the activity in this Delaware beach town where I'm staying this week is any indication, green building has really taken root. A huge billboard on U.S. 1 offers zero-energy homes. The local newspaper features the success story of a developer, Bob Thornton, whose business is up, thanks to offering green homes. Everywhere, ads tout the green and energy-efficient details of new homes.

Special Report: Where Housing and Gas Prices Intersect

See how $4-per-gallon gas is affecting home buyers’ decisions and home builders’ sales strategies.

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Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA, Anderson, IN.