Three New Green Building Programs Follow NAHB Model
The first statewide green building certification program based on NAHB’s Model Green Home Building Guidelines is being launched by the Michigan Association of Home Builders (MAHB).
In a unanimous vote at its summer convention, the state board of directors approved the formation of Green Built Michigan, Inc. The nonprofit foundation will oversee the green building programs for all 35 local home building associations in the Great Lake State.
Meanwhile, two Ohio associations have joined forces to create the Northeast Ohio Green Building Initiative and the Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas is launching the Green Building Program, both based on the NAHB model guidelines.
All three new programs benefited from the promotional and administrative support of the Green Building Initiative, which is working with NAHB to launch programs in select markets around the country.
Having a statewide program is a great advantage for Michigan builders, especially those who belong to smaller local home builders associations, said Joanne Theunissen of Howling Hammer Builders, Inc., in Mount Pleasant and the chair of MAHB’s Green Build Task Force.
“If the local association chooses not to create a chapter or is too small to manage one, builders can still join Green Built Michigan as members at large and avail themselves of the educational and marketing opportunities that the new foundation will offer,” she said. “That’s a very exciting thing in a state that is undergoing some significant economic issues,” due to shrinking employment in the automobile and associated industries.
Green Built Michigan started as an initiative of the Home and Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids, which has certified green-built projects for several years. The new nonprofit will continue to be housed at the Grand Rapids HBA, but will have its own budget and employees.
The green building programs in Grand Rapids and in the Home Builders Association of the Grand Traverse Area will become chapters of the new statewide program.
Green Built Michigan hopes to take advantage of its nonprofit status to attract sponsors to help defray the new program’s administrative and promotional costs. It will also present educational seminars for builders to promote green building practices and raise money for the program. “Green Building for Building Professionals,” an NAHB University of Housing course, will be offered at Grand Rapids and the BIA of Southeastern Michigan in September.
The GBI is also helping to create a training program for professionals interested in the certification process, Theunissen said, but its invitation to the local utility company to partner on certifying green homes was turned down, the one negative note in a good-news story for a state facing significant challenges for home builders.
“In the midst of tremendous economic difficulties across our industry- and manufacturing-dependent state, we need all the help we can get to keep residential building strong,” Theunissen said in an e-mail to NAHB green building program leaders and subcommittee members. “It’s our hope now that a number of our builder and associate members statewide will see the benefits of going green to help meet the needs for energy conservation, setting themselves apart from the competition and keeping their own businesses viable.”
The certification program is affordable as well, with projects costing builders between $200 and $400 per home. Theunissen said that the voluntary nature of the program is key to ensuring that green building enters the mainstream, especially for entry-level houses, whose owners are least likely to be able to afford high energy bills.
Theunissen’s company builds homes at all price points, but one recent project illustrates why oppressive mandates and expensive certification programs have relegated green building too long to niche status. “This was a family who had raised five kids in a trailer and could finally move up to a single-family home,” she said. “If I had to deal with expensive mandates, I could never have accommodated these people and chosen features that would work for them.”
In Ohio, the new green building program is the result of hard work and long hours by builder volunteers like David Payne of Payne & Payne Builders, said Nate Coffman, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland.
“Cleveland is kind of conservative, and our association is doing the forward thinking here,” Payne said. “When we tell people about the benefits and the opportunities, once they understand it, they really want it. There’s definitely momentum. People are looking for a residential solution for green building. There are other programs out there but not as user-friendly as the guidelines.”
Cleveland is partnering with the North Coast Building Industry Association in the Northeast Ohio Green Building Initiative and is planning a fall launch during CiTiRAMA, a single-site parade of homes that will take place Oct. 7 to 15, Coffman said.
This year’s CiTiRAMA will include 10 homes, three of which will be green, and all of which will be built on the site of the city’s old St. Luke’s Hospital. Called St. Luke’s Pointe, the infill development will bring new life to what was a blighted neighborhood, he said.
Forty Cleveland builder and associate members are cooperating on a 2,000-square-foot green house that features recycled cellulose insulation, decorative awnings fashioned from recycled steel made years ago in Cleveland factories, no-VOC paint and wallpaper made from recycled wood. James Hardie, Carrier, Nu-Wool insulation and Sherwin-Williams are among the vendors donating products for the green showhouse.
The biggest driver for the program is growing consumer interest in energy-efficient products, said North Coast BIA executive officer Rocco Fana Jr. “It’s what we are all hearing about these days, and we wanted to put green building out there as more than just tree-hugging. It’s about using different materials, paying attention to how the house is laid out. It’s the simple things. I like to refer to it as high-performance housing,” he said.
It will take a while to ramp up and get the majority of builder members on board, “but we want to be ready,” Fana said. “We want to have the resources to help our members differentiate themselves from other builders in the area and set themselves apart.”
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.
Get Green Building Intelligence Today at BuilderBooks.com
“Residential Green Building SmartMarket Report,” available through BuilderBooks.com, addresses the growing trends and opportunities in green home building.
The report provides the results of market research conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction and NAHB about green building in home construction.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.
Save the Date for 2007 National Green Building Conference
Mark your calendar for March 25-27 for the National Green Building Conference. Visit www.nahb.org/greenbuilding for more information.