The Southern Nevada HBA is starting to gather steam with its new green building program. Both Pulte Homes and local builder Signature Custom Homes have recently agreed to participate.

Specifications for the new program, dubbed the Southern Nevada Green Building Partnership, were developed in tandem with the Green Building Initiative of Portland, Ore.

Monica Caruso, director of public affairs for the Southern Nevada HBA, said while most of the requirements are based on NAHB's Model Green Home Building Guidelines, some of the specs were customized for the Las Vegas area.

Since Las Vegas is desert country, water conservation is very important to the Southern Nevada HBA. Under the Las Vegas trade group's guidelines, grass is not permitted in the front yards. Builders are required to practice "water-smart landscaping" techniques, which means the front yards must have vegetation that's native to the desert, plus decorative rocks. The homes must also include high-efficiency indoor plumbing fixtures, and all air conditioning units must be non-evaporative systems with zero net consumptive water use.

Other requirements native to Las Vegas: To protect homes from the effects of sunlight, the primary entrance must have an awning or covered porch. Builders must also install a drip edge at the eave and gable roof ends to accommodate water runoff.

"It doesn't rain very often in the Las Vegas area," said Caruso. "But when it does it's very intense," she said.

Pulte will kick off its participation in the new green program with its Villa Trieste at West Park community in Summerlin Centre. The big builder plans to build 185 homes with prices starting in the $400,000s. Homes will be available by late fall.

Signature Custom Homes plans to build two custom homes that meet the HBA's green specs. Caruso said Signature Homes, Signature's production arm, also plans to build new homes to the local green standard.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Las Vegas, NV.