It’s simple, really. Consumers see “green building” as something that will save them money on energy costs.

A survey conducted for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) confirms that a desire for greater energy efficiency drives consumers to choose a green-built home.

The survey, conducted during the week of Oct. 15 by the Public Opinion Strategies, polled 800 folks nationwide about 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 or 64 percent of the voters polled said that “reduced energy costs” would be the most important. Fiftyfive percent said “because it would be healthier.”

Almost half, or 49 percent of those polled stated that using sustainable materials and procedures to build a home was “the right thing to do for the environment.”

The National Association of Home Builders will launch its voluntary National Green Building Program, on Feb. 15 at the International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla.

The program is based on three-year-old model green home building guidelines worked out by the NAHB.

Georgia has a green building program put together by the Greater Atlanta Association of Home Builders and Southface Energy Institute. Homes built to this standard are termed “Earthcraft certified” and are also Energy Star homes. To find a new Earthcraft home in Atlanta, search “earthcraft” on the Internet.

The NAHB guidelines incorporate new technologies, advances in building science and materials for insulation, windows and other components mean that homes are significantly more energy efficient than they used to be.

A big reason why home buyers choose energy efficiency as a motivator is because heating and air conditioning bills can “really empty our wallets.” But energy efficiency has to be affordable, too, “so home buyers’ money can go to green features, not green program fees.” said NAHB president Wayne Catalde.

The NAHB National Green Building program is being launched in cooperation with the NAHB Research Center in Upper Marlboro, Md., which develops and tests building science technology designed to increase the efficiency, durability and affordability of residential construction methods.

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.
The US EPA has already certified more than 750,000 homes nationwide as Energy Star homes. They are 15 percent more energy efficient than other new homes.

Green is not just about energy efficiency. Catalde emphasized that builders should also be thinking about water efficiency, resource efficiency and indoor environmental quality.

“When a green home doesn’t look or feel significantly different from one built using more traditional construction methods, when builders have the tools and resources to build them without significant materials or labor cost increases, and when consumers readily accept the finished product, then green has arrived — and that’s why the NAHB National Green Building Program will bring green to the mainstream,” Catalde said.

The green building program will link dozens of 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.”

With the program debuting in February, the NAHB was interested in how its almost 200,000 members would react to it. A membership survey found that 90 percent were interested in participating in a voluntary certification program.

Almost 80 percent of the builders and developers surveyed identified the NAHB program as the one that they would most trust over other national programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED-H rating system.

“We are committed to taking green building into the mainstream in a manner that keeps it affordable, which is key to its market success,” Catalde said.

Survey questions also focused on green land development practices. More than 80 percent of respondents listed leaving as many trees as possible as the most important consideration when developing land for new home construction.

Other practices builders say are most important include minimizing site disruption (69 percent), making greater use of recycled materials in home building (59 percent) and preserving open space by building on smaller lots (54 percent).

Green is a trend that is going to be around for awhile. When you are looking for Atlanta real estate, seek green.

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