WASHINGTON - Calling green building “the next evolution in residential construction,” the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) told Congress that the best way to help small home builders promote residential energy efficiency and sustainability technology in home construction is by extending tax incentives for new energy-efficient homes.

Testifying before the House Small Business Committee, Michael Hodgson, president of the Stockton, Calif.-based energy consulting firm ConSol, said these incentives dovetail with the normal supply and demand for home construction. “A tax credit program leaves important production decisions in the hands of builders, buyers, and homeowners and does not require expensive administrative oversight that is usually associated with a mandate,” he said.

Under current law, builders who construct a home certified to achieve a 50 percent reduction in energy use are eligible to receive a $2,000 tax credit. That credit is set to expire at the end of this year, and although pending legislation in the House and Senate would extend it, there is still no agreement between the two chambers over the appropriate budgetary offsets.

“Unless Congress can end the political debate and extend this credit soon - with or without offsets - it will be a tremendous loss for my business and will eliminate the only federal incentive for efficiency in new homes,” said Hodgson.

He also urged Congress to increase the dollar amount of the credit, because achieving the 50 percent threshold required by statute is costly, especially for small builders.

Hodgson said that the housing industry is committed to the advancement of green building techniques that reduce energy consumption, improve indoor and outdoor air quality, and conserve water and natural resources in both new and existing homes.

NAHB and the International Code Council are awaiting final approval by the American National Standards Institute for the National Green Building Standard. The goal is to offer local jurisdictions an “off-the-shelf” green building program for new homes and remodeling projects that is consensus-based but flexible, said Hodgson.

“Green building means making intentional decisions that positively impact energy efficiency, resource conservation, and indoor environmental quality throughout the entire design and construction process,” said Hodgson. “Green means doing the right thing for the builder, the homeowner, and, most importantly, the environment.”

Publication date:04/28/2008