US homebuilders welcome green legislation

New legislation that could lead to cash incentives for green development has been welcomed by the US construction industry.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says the proposed Green Act of 2009, known technically as HR2336, will set new green building and sustainability benchmarks for properties that get financial assistance from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

But it also fears that a second piece of environmental legislation under consideration, HR2454, that deals with climate change goals will set conflicting requirements that could make the Green Act obsolete before it's signed.

"I am hopeful that [Congress] will be able to restore the balance necessary to truly incentivise green building and preserve affordability as the debate over climate change continues," said NAHB president Jerry Howard.

"It would be terribly disappointing to see the good faith effort and collaborative work on the Green Act displaced with unworkable federal mandates as envisioned in HR 2454."

The Green Act will ensure cost-effective energy-efficiency improvements to federally-financed homes.

"We have a major role to play in the manner in which energy efficiency and sustainable technologies are introduced into the housing stock," Howard said.

"Despite the downturn, NAHB has not wavered in its commitment to promoting green building and energy efficiency in a manner that is affordable and effective, and legitimately improves energy efficiency for the next generation of housing."

Invited to present the industry's perspective to the subcommittee considering the Green Act, Howard asked Congress to rework some sections its text.

He claimed it is unclear in the current draft whether new efficiency requirements apply to Federal Housing Authority-financed home purchases as well as to direct subsidy programs or competitive grants.

"The scope of the Green Act and the new programmes that it creates is ambitious," he said.

"But the intent is thoughtful and NAHB hopes that the resources will ultimately be available to develop the programs into effective tools to promote sustainable principles."

Sam Bond



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