Appraisals Impeding Wider Use of Green Products
Kohler, Marvin Windows and Doors and Whirlpool are ready with new lines of green and sustainable products for today's new homes, according to representatives for the manufacturers at last month’s International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.
But until lenders and appraisers learn to recognize the value of innovative green features and the money they can save new home buyers, there is not enough incentive in the marketplace for large-scale implementation of green building practices, said Bill Nolan, of The Nolan Group, a housing industry consulting firm in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Kohler's water-saving toilets use an average of 39,000 fewer gallons of water per year for a family of four, the equivalent of a lifetime of drinking water for three people, said Shane Judd, senior marketing manager of water conservation for the company. New products will incorporate rainwater reuse and gray water — using the water draining from the shower stall to fill the washing machine, for example.
Marvin emphasizes long-term sustainability rather than up-front costs and also pays close attention to green practices during the production process, said Brett Boyum, the company’s director of marketing. Each year, 8,500 tons of shavings and other wood waste are used to heat the company's manufacturing plant, for instance.
Ed Linder, a division director for the Whirlpool Corporation, said his company is manufacturing ranges that consume 40% less energy and appliances that are "smart-grid" ready. It is also exploring shared-power technologies, such as heating the water in a dishwasher with the energy generated from a refrigerator condenser coil.
For such innovations in green building to leap forward, their first-time costs and long-term savings must be recognized by appraisers and bankers in the underwriting process, Nolan said.
"We can't get lenders to appreciate the value of the net costs, and if we can't get the values recognized, manufacturers can't justify moving these products forward," he said, noting that NAHB is working to educate appraisers and lenders. "The goal should be long-term energy efficiency."
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.