NAHB Survey: U.S. Home Builders Use Energy Efficient Products, Especially Windows

On average, builders of single-family residences use 10.2 different green products or practices – and 22 percent always or almost always have their homes certified to a green standard, according to survey results released on March 13 by the National Association of Home Builders.

The District of Columbia-based trade association – which represents over 140,000 members nationwide involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily constru8ction, property managements, subcontracting, building product design, and more – inserted questions into a January survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. A total of 337 single-family builders responded to the poll.

One of the questions was aimed at determining which, if any, of 21specific green products and practices they used for homes they built during the past year. The list of 21 was drawn primarily from the major sections of the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).

Energy efficient windows ranked at the top of the list, commonly used by 95 percent of the builders, followed by high efficiency HVAC systems (at 92 percent), programmable thermostats (88 percent), and ENERGY STAR-rated appliances (80 percent) . On average builders reported commonly using 10.2 of the green products and practices on the list.

Interestingly enough, at the bottom of the list were smart appliances (16 percent), reused or salvaged materials (14 percent), energy management systems (11 percent), and passive solar design (8 percent).

The survey question also gave builders options to 1) write-in any other green features they might be using and 2) specifically check if they used none of the green products or practices on the list. Thirteen percent of builders wrote in other green products/practices, mostly slight variations of the 21 already provided on the list.  Every builder who responded reported using at least one green product or practice.

In addition to the NGBS, builders can have single-family homes certified to a green standard such as ENERGY STAR,  LEED, and programs run by State or local jurisdictions.

The NAHB policy supports all green programs like these, the trade group said, so long as they remain voluntary. But, while 22 percent of single-family builders always or almost always have their homes certified to one of the green standards; at the other end of the spectrum, 48 percent never or almost never have their homes certified.

Not surprisingly, according to the NAHB, the number of green products and practices a builder uses is positively correlated with the tendency to have homes certified to the NGBS or other green standard, but the differences might not be as drastic as you’d guess. While builders who always or almost always have their homes certified to a green standard on average use 11.9 of the green products or practices, builders who never or almost never have their homes certified still use 9.1 of them.

This suggests that the homes of many more builders might be able to qualify for a green certification, with relatively minor changes to the builders’ current practices, the organization concluded.

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