Builder group walks the talk; NAHB HQ garners fifth Energy Star

WASHINGTON, June 30 -- The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has earned its fifth Energy Star designation for the National Housing Center, the downtown Washington, D.C. office building that serves as the association's headquarters.

The designation recognizes buildings that conserve natural resources while providing a comfortable and healthy environment for employees and visitors.

Since the building was significantly expanded and renovated in 2001, the Housing Center's property manager, Transwestern, has continued to fine-tune the details of the original energy-efficient construction project. Attention to the operation and maintenance of the building is the key to holding the line on energy use and utility costs, said NAHB President and Chief Executive Officer Jerry Howard.

"We believe that it's important to make today's building stock as efficient as possible, and these improvements demonstrate how we put these values into practice," Howard said.

To earn its fifth designation, Transwestern engineers continued to install occupancy sensors in common areas so the lights turn on only when the room is in use. Low-flow aerators were installed in all restroom sinks as well as additional insulation around the perimeter of the building.

Transwestern staff also regularly inspects and maintains the heating and air conditioning equipment used in the building to optimize its performance and prolong its life, Howard said. The Housing Center's continued Energy Star designations save money and energy while they also send a strong signal regarding housing industry support for voluntary energy guidelines, he added.

NAHB has also made landscaping improvements around the building, adding more plants and greenery to help absorb storm water runoff and keep it out of the city's drainage system - not an Energy Star requirement, but another way to reduce the environmental impact of the National Housing Center.

"Many of our members build homes with appliances, windows and doors, and heating and cooling systems that meet the Energy Star guidelines. In fact, 840,000 Energy Star -rated homes have been constructed in the past 15 years," Howard noted. "These home builders' business practices show how NAHB members are at the forefront of green building - and that's reflected in how we operate our national headquarters."

A plaque recognizing the Energy Star achievement has been posted near the building's entrance.