Builders Working to Reduce Energy Use, Says Pressly
During a keynote address last week at the annual meeting of North Carolina Energy Star® raters, NAHB president David Pressly called for clarifying the Energy Star checklist to encourage more home builders to participate in the federal voluntary energy efficiency program.
“I am always looking for opportunities that encourage this professional community — our builders, suppliers, regulators and, of course, you, the Energy Star raters — to work together in a harmonious way, because the result is better home building,” Pressly said.
An important key to increased participation in the green building movement, Pressly noted, is the continued success of NAHB’s Model Green Home Building Guidelines, which have provided the framework for a dozen regional programs by state and local home builders associations, with another dozen under development. While green building encompasses a wide range of practices such as water conservation and recycling, energy efficiency is essential to true green building, he said.
“It all goes back to energy, which is why our relationships with experts such as you, who can help us make homes more resource and energy-efficient, is so very important,” Pressly said.
“It has been NAHB’s policy for many years to support voluntary energy efficiency programs. Energy Star is the most prominent,” he said.
‘Carbon-Neutral’ by 2030
Pressly also touched on the 2030 Challenge. Issued by the American Institute of Architects and endorsed by various environmental and civic groups, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the goal of the challenge is for all new buildings by the year 2030 to be "carbon-neutral" and use no energy from fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases.
“Fifty percent of the homes that we will need in 2030 haven’t even been built yet,” said Pressly. “That, to me, is the real 2030 challenge — to build these homes — and we need to keep more than just energy efficiency in mind when we do that. We need to think about water efficiency and resource efficiency. We need to build green.”
NAHB members have voted to have the association’s green guidelines considered for further acknowledgement as an industry standard practice through formal ANSI procedures. Local jurisdictions considering developing green building programs can look to the ANSI standard for a model — and to the success of locally based, voluntary programs as inspiration, Pressly said.
The NAHB leader also asked the raters for help with the certification process, noting that the paperwork builders need to complete is confusing and inconsistent, and that Energy Star officials agree.
“I know that you share our frustration with some aspects of the thermal bypass checklist,” he said. “It’s very difficult for both builders and for raters when the checklist is modified numerous times, because then, of course, it becomes difficult to follow. Our members want to do the right thing, and the right thing is significantly easier to do when the checklist is not so topsy-turvy. If it’s not builder friendly, you aren’t going to have a lot of builders following it — that just makes sense.”
Not Enough Energy Raters to Go Around
Another problem, builders say, is that there are not enough raters to go around. “In our area, I only know of two — and the one that I use is swamped, and that slows things down,” said Matt Belcher of Belcher Homes in Wildwood, Mo. “It’s a hurdle we have to overcome somehow.”
Pressly ended with a pitch for green building — and asked for support from the energy-rating community for voluntary programs like those created by HBAs using NAHB’s guidelines.
“We want your support — and your help — to encourage the growth of voluntary, market-driven green building standards. These are preferable to mandates, which can reduce the incentive and the market pressure to adapt and to change and enable green benchmarks to continually improve as builders gain more experience,” he said.
“A flexible, regionally appropriate approach is preferable to a unilateral approach that does not take into account local issues, architecture or geographic differences. There is no one-size-fits-all green building standard.”
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.