NAHB told Congress today that it wants to work as a partner with officials at all levels of government to encourage energy efficiency, but also stressed that it is urgent that housing affordability is not jeopardized in the process.
Testifying on behalf of NAHB before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Arn McIntyre, a green builder from Grand Rapids, Mich., urged Congress to promote voluntary, market-driven and viable green building initiatives.
"These programs lower total ownership costs through utility savings as well as provide the flexibility builders need to construct homes that are cost-effective, affordable and appropriate to a home’s geographic location," said McIntyre.
New home construction is much more energy efficient than existing construction because of better insulation, energy-efficient appliances and HVAC equipment, and other improvements stemming from compliance to more modern and stringent building codes. Therefore, McIntyre said, it would make no sense to apply even more costly and rigorous energy conservation requirements to new homes.
"Targeting new homes would harm housing affordability and encourage people to remain in older, less energy-efficient homes. In turn, this would result in higher energy usage, higher greenhouse gas emissions and lower standards of living," he said. "Improving the energy efficiency of the 130 million homes built before 2010 that are much less energy efficient than today’s new homes is a much more effective approach to reduce carbon emissions and achieve energy savings."
McIntyre also emphasized the following points to lawmakers:
- Climate change mitigation programs that recognize and promote voluntary-above code compliance for energy efficiency have a proven track record and demonstrate that mandates are not necessary.
- Mandating net zero or near net zero energy emissions or usage is extremely difficult, costly and impractical in most, if not all, of the nation.
- Any federal intrusion into the building codes adoption process could have a dramatic impact on each states' ability to implement the codes that best fit their jurisdiction.
- Incentives play an important role in providing home owners a cost-effective way to invest in energy efficiency.
- Any federal mandates would have a negative impact on housing affordability and will prevent healthy competition in the marketplace.