Energy Savings Push Green Ahead

A new survey conducted for the NAHB confirms that a desire for greater energy efficiency drives consumers to choose a green-built home.

When 800 registered voters were asked how important certain items would be in their decision to either purchase a new green home or remodel their current home to be more green, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers polled said that “reduced energy costs” would be the most important. The second-highest scoring reason, at 55 percent, was “because it would be healthier.” And 49 percent of those surveyed say it’s “the right thing to do for the environment.”

“Green building is the home buyer’s best defense against soaring energy costs,” said NAHB president Brian Catalde. “But it’s up to the nation’s remodelers to make sure the cure is not more expensive than the problem itself. The NAHB National Green Building Program paves the way for authentic yet cost-effective green building.”

The voluntary program, based on the 3-year-old NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, is set to launch Feb. 14 at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando.

The NAHB National Green Building program is being launched in cooperation with the NAHB Research Center, the industry’s leading building science technology testing institution working to make homes more durable, efficient and affordable.

To be certified under the NAHB program, homes must meet energy-efficiency levels that are at least equivalent to Energy Star, the federal Environmental Protection Agency program that has enjoyed great success in the marketplace. Since 2000, 750,000 homes have earned the Energy Star label, indicating they are at least 15 percent more efficient than required by current energy codes.

However, said Catalde, energy use is not the whole picture. “We need to think about water efficiency, resource efficiency and indoor environmental quality. We need to build and remodel green.”

The NAHB National Green Building program will link dozens of successful state and local voluntary green building programs with a national online scoring tool for builders and verifiers and extensive educational resources. “A flexible, regionally appropriate approach is preferable to a unilateral approach that does not take into account local issues, architecture or geographic differences,” Catalde said. “This program opens up the opportunity for all our membership to build green.”

Green Study

Report Provides Details of Consumer Preferences

McGraw-Hill Construction released The Green Homeowner SmartMarket Report, produced in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders, providing insight into the mind-set of the “green” homeowner and the homeowner remodeler using green products.

The major findings of the report include:

  • The market for true green homes is expected to rise from $2 billion to up to $20 billion over the next five years.
  • Standard homes are becoming increasingly green, with homeowners using green products for 40 percent of their remodeling work.
  • Most Americans find out about green homes through word-of-mouth, followed by television and the Internet.
  • Green homeowners are happy with their homes and are recommending them at rates significantly higher than recommendation levels of other industries.
  • Homeowners are buying green homes because they are concerned about the health of their families, as well as to reduce energy and other home operating costs.
  • Education and awareness of green ranks as the most important obstacles, slightly higher even than the additional first costs associated with building green.

McGraw-Hill Construction found in prior studies that residential remodelers and builders believed the additional costs of green were by far the most significant challenge to more rapid growth in green building. But for homeowners, today’s survey shows that while costs and the availability of green products are still an obstacle, the most important issue is lack of awareness.

“This information gap is actually a great opportunity for the industry, as well as for the media, nongovernmental organizations and government itself to provide more effective communication of the advantages of green homes,” said Harvey Bernstein of McGraw-Hill.

The size of the homeowner remodeling market that is using green products is large: 40 percent of homeowners remodeling their houses are doing so with green products, especially their windows and heating and cooling systems.

Overall Construction Outlook

Market Will Continue to Weaken in 2008

A new construction outlook from McGraw-Hill forecasts a drop in overall U.S. construction spending for next year, fueled by tighter lending conditions and weaker job growth. Against this backdrop, the level of construction starts is expected to decline 2 percent, to $614 billion, following an 8 percent decline predicted for 2007.

“The credit crunch that emerged at mid-2007 continues to be a major concern for construction and the overall economy,” said Robert Murray, of McGraw-Hill Construction. “As a result, we’re now predicting downturns in the previously resilient multifamily and commercial segments, as well as continued weakness in single-family home construction.”

The 2008 Construction Outlook states that single-family housing will weaken further, given the large inventory of unsold homes and diminished loan availability to home buyers. A 3 percent drop in dollar volume is expected, corresponding to another 6 percent decline in the number of units.

There are some positives for the market in 2008, Murray noted. The growth in “green” construction practices means that the demand for sustainable building design and materials will continue to rise.

Call for Entries

NAHB National Green Building Awards

Entries are now being accepted for the 2008 NAHB National Green Building Awards. Each year, the NAHB recognizes individuals, companies and organizations for excellence in residential green design and construction practices and for green building program and advocacy efforts.

All award applications are available online at nahb.org/gbawards, but entries must be submitted by mail. The application includes instructions for photographs and other graphics. Applications are due Jan. 30, 2008, and all entrants must be NAHB members.

Windows

Simonton Launches New Web Site

A new www.simonton.com features a “trade professional” section with installation instructions and product information appropriate for remodelers, builders and coastal contractors, though the changes are also geared to consumers. “The newly-designed site offers more pictures and a cleaner look,” said Simonton’s Carrie Nesselrode.

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