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October 2019

Builders urge Congress to support voluntary market-driven solutions for energy savings

October 7, 2019

Green Home graphicRepresentatives from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) visited Congress last month to remind lawmakers of their desire to partner with officials at all levels of government to encourage energy efficiency. They also stressed that housing affordability should not be jeopardized in the process.

In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, a member of NAHB 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," stated Arn McIntyre, a green builder from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

McIntyre told subcommittee members it makes no sense to apply even more costly and rigorous energy conservation requirements to new homes. He noted 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.

"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," McIntyre 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."

Additional points NAHB representatives made in their testimony included:

  • 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.