Builders Encourage Efforts to Step Up Residential Energy Efficiency
As national policymakers consider enacting more stringent energy-efficiency requirements for new homes, the NAHB Executive Board last week approved a resolution to support these attempts as long as they remain practical and cost-effective for home buyers.
The resolution affirms NAHB’s support of efforts that would make the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code 30% more energy-efficient than the 2006 model code.
At the same time, the resolution challenges home builders, manufacturers and policymakers to meet that goal in ways that are “technologically achievable and economically justified,” while allowing for multiple paths to achieve the reductions though improvements in equipment, appliances and the building envelope.
The Executive Board unanimously approved the resolution when it met March 23 in Washington, D.C. the day before scheduled visits to Capitol Hill during the association’s annual Legislative Conference.
There are several ways to enhance residential energy efficiency, including making sure that heating and air conditioning equipment is efficient and sized appropriately for the home, said Dwight “Sonny” Richardson, chairman of the NAHB Construction, Codes and Standards Committee.
“We can’t just assume that there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to increasing energy-efficiency,” Richardson said. “Every home is different, and every climate unique. It’s our job as builders to provide an appropriate energy-efficiency solution for each home and each home buyer,” he said.
“We need to make sure that we can use every tool in our toolboxes — all the products, materials and construction techniques we employ — as we strive toward these goals. We need to ensure that there are a number of simple, prescriptive solutions available to the nation’s builders. Flexibility ensures that we can build homes that are not just right for the neighborhood, but for our customers’ pocketbooks,” he said.
The resolution acknowledges the role that the home building industry plays in reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and energy use while making that reduction technologically feasible for home builders and economical for home buyers.
Because code changes only affect new homes, the resolution also points policymakers to the national imperative of getting existing homes on the energy-efficiency path, as well. “New homes are far more efficient and contribute far less to greenhouse gas emissions than existing homes and can save our customers money month after month”, noted Richardson. “We can get a lot more 'bang for our buck' by upgrading the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock, while at the same time providing employment opportunities for remodelers.”
NAHB has long been an advocate for energy-efficiency provisions that are cost-effective and affordable for home buyers throughout the nation and is committed to researching and developing new products and building techniques, as well as financing practices that promote energy efficiency in new and existing buildings, the resolution says.
Working with the International Code Council, NAHB also played a pivotal role in developing the ICC-700 2008 National Green Building Standard, which is more stringent than code. It is the first national green standard to be approved by the American National Standards Institute, Adopted in January, the standard is already being used to design and direct the inspection and certification of green homes, developments and remodeling projects.
The resolution affirms the importance of a code development consensus process that brings together all parties — including building code officials, energy-efficiency experts, builders, environmental advocates, product manufacturers and building science consultants. This process does a more effective job of achieving significant reductions in energy use than mandates, the resolution says.
Congress should not “authorize the Department of Energy to develop a federal energy-efficiency code or amendments to any other model energy code that would effectively be a federal mandate for energy efficiency in residential construction,” the resolution states.
“We want to make sure that a transparent, rigorous, consensus code process stays intact because it respects the regional and climactic differences of our nation,” Richardson said. “We need to work through the code process together to achieve our goals, and not, as some would advocate, throw the baby out with the bath water.”
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.