Green Home Building Guidelines Designed for Mainstream Builders

Rules aimed at constructing more energy efficient, environmentally sensitive homes in different price ranges and climate conditions.

The green-homebuilding movement took a major step forward with the release of national Model Green Home Building Guidelines by the National Association of Home Builders. Launched at the 2005 International Builders Show in Orlando, the new voluntary guidelines provide documentation and support for green builders and remodelers throughout the United States.

NAHB's Research Center developed the new guidelines for builders and remodelers of single-family homes, multifamily structures and custom homes. Up until now, mostly niche builders have been dealing with the complex subject of green building on a local or regional basis. NAHB intends to facilitate the adoption of green-building practices and the formation of new local green-building programs. Currently there are about 30 local or regional green-building programs in the United States.

"The guidelines are revolutionary, because they will help all builders, not just niche builders, construct more energy efficient, environmentally sensitive homes in different price ranges and climate conditions," says Ray Tonjes, a home builder from Austin, Texas, and chair of the Green Building Subcommittee of NAHB.

NAHB undertook the guidelines project a year ago at the urging of members who wanted research and education on building resource-efficient homes that are both affordable and customized to local conditions.

The guidelines offer voluntary builder- and market-driven green solutions for:

  • Site planning and land development
  • Lot design and preparation
  • Resource, energy and water efficiency
  • Indoor air quality
  • Operation, maintenance and home-owner operation
  • Global impact, i.e., how home construction affects the overall environment, such as the use of products that reduce ozone pollution

The new guidelines can be downloaded at

Green Marketing Help

Another new national organization aims to help mainstream builders market the green-building concept. The Green Building Initiative is a not-for-profit organization based in Portland, Ore., and supported by a broad cross section of groups and individuals interested in promoting energy efficient and environmentally sustainable practices in residential and commercial construction. The GBI plans to work closely with NAHB and its local home builder associations (HBAs). Ray will lead the GBI as the first chairman.

NAHB, which owns the Model Green Home Building Guidelines, will receive technical assistance from the NAHB Research Center and marketing assistance from GBI, according to John Loyer, construction codes and standards specialist for the energy and green building department at NAHB. The Research Center will update the Guidelines in two to three years, he says.

GBI, which began promoting membership in the second half of 2004, already has more than 2,500 builder members. Programs are currently in development in Houston, St. Louis, Kansas City, Phoenix and Cleveland. Supported by building product manufacturers, GBI offers builder membership at no cost. A GBI Resource Kit is available at

The U.S. Green Building Council is working on a third national residential green-building initiative as part of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. A residential pilot program for LEED-H is already under way. USGBC expects to launch the final program in late 2005 or early 2006.

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