The climate bill the U.S House passed June 26 is not the solution to the nation’s energy problems, the National Association of Home Builders says.

The climate bill the U.S House passed June 26 is not the solution to the nation’s energy problems, the National Association of Home Builders says.

"The hard truth is that we can't build our way out of this problem," said association Chairman Joe Robson, a builder and developer in Tulsa, Okla. "We need to make sure our utilities more efficiently generate and transmit power. We need to make our existing housing stock more energy efficient. We need to reduce our 'plug load' -- home appliances, televisions and computers -- and make these products more energy efficient.

“This bill's focus on new home construction won't get us very far at all,” Robson said.

By a narrow 219-212 vote, the House Friday approved a bill designed to curb the nation’s hunger for fossil fuels and protect the environment from the warming effects of greenhouse gases. It places limits on man-made carbon dioxide emissions under a cap-and-trade system, which would allow polluting industries to buy and sell permits to exceed those limits, although the legislation eventually would require polluters to cut emissions to 17 percent below their 2005 levels within a decade.

It would also mandate up to 15 percent of U.S.-produced electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.

Among its energy-efficiency provisions is a rule that new homes be 30 percent more efficient than the minimums in the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. By 2014, that increases to 50 percent and rises an additional 5 percent every three years, according to NAHB officials.

"That's simply too far, too fast," Robson said. "The market is not geared up to supply the necessary materials and equipment, and that's going to drive up costs. The result will be fewer working-class families in these new energy-efficient homes. They'll be relegated to older, less efficient housing stock and face ever higher utility bills."

He urged Congress to come up with more reasonable and cost-effective standards in final legislation.

"This isn't about making it easier on builders. It's about coming up with a solution that makes sense and takes a balanced approach -- not one that looks only to new buildings for energy reductions," Robson said. "We are at a particularly fragile point in our economic recovery, and saddling home buyers with additional costs makes it even more difficult to get a mortgage when credit is already tight.”

The bill's prospects in the Senate are uncertain. Despite strong lobbying of fellow Democrats by President Barack Obama, 44 House Democrats and all but eight Republicans opposed the legislation, making it almost certain the Senate will significantly change the bill, which could still face a filibuster. It has also drawn criticism from environmental groups for being too lenient on polluting industries like coal.

The president hopes to have a bill ready for his signature by fall.