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Voluntary Green Building Guidelines Aimed at Mainstream Housing

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Voluntary Model Green Home Building Guidelines designed to move environmentally friendly home building concepts further into the mainstream of the housing marketplace were introduced on Jan. 13 during the International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla.

"The guidelines are revolutionary because they will help all builders, not just niche builders, construct more energy-efficient, environmentally sensitive new homes in different price ranges and climate conditions," said Ray Tonjes, chairman of the NAHB Green Building Subcommittee.

There are currently about 30 communities across the country where green building programs are in place or under development. NAHB members and their local and state home builders associations have been the driving force behind these programs, Tonjes said.

The technical guidelines were created by the NAHB Research Center, which worked with members from more than 60 groups.

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The guidelines explain how a builder can incorporate green building concepts into a project in six primary areas:

  • Lot Preparation and Design. Even before the foundation is poured, careful planning can reduce a home's impact on vegetation, soil and water and a home's long-term performance can be enhanced, according to the guidelines.
  • Resource Efficiency. This section shows how certain framing techniques can effectively optimize the use of building materials and also discusses construction site waste management concepts. Information is also provided on how a home's durability and maintenance are affected by how certain materials are used in its construction.
  • Energy Efficiency. Information in this section helps builders create a building envelope and incorporate energy-efficient mechanical systems, appliances and lighting to reduce long-term utility costs and increase comfort for the home owner. This section also covers the only requirements that are needed to participate in voluntary green home building programs: compliance with the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code, use of ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) manuals to size HVAC equipment and third-party plan review to verify compliance with the energy efficiency section.
  • Water Efficiency/Conservation. The importance of water availability and usage, while varying from region to region, is becoming more widespread geographically, the guidelines note. This section's guidelines for indoor and outdoor water use can reduce utility bills regardless of location.
  • Occupancy Comfort and Indoor Environmental Quality. This section provides details on how to effectively manage moisture, ventilation and other issues in order to create a comfortable indoor living environment.
  • Operation, Maintenance and Home Owner Education. Line items in this section show builders the best ways to educate residents on how to operate and maintain their house.

The guidelines can also be used to develop a point system to score green building projects, and can be adapted by home builders associations to local needs.

The creation of a new national organization to promote green building practices in residential construction - the Green Building Initiative - was also announced during the International Builders' Show.

"Our goal is to bring green building to the majority - to give mainstream builders and architects the information and tools to create better living environments," said Ward Hubbell, executive director of the non-profit initiative. He said that the organization will be working closely with NAHB and home builders associations.

Find out more about Weyerhaeuser's commitment to the environment.

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