The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) told the U.S. Congress that its members are committed to encouraging greater energy efficiency in housing throughout the U.S. and strongly believe that a voluntary, market-driven approach is the best way to address the United States' residential energy concerns.
"Congress should be promoting voluntary energy efficiency programs, extending tax incentives for highly efficient new home construction and protecting housing affordability from arbitrary building code increases when adopting new energy policy," Frank Thompson, a Pennsylvania home builder, said in testimony before the House Small Business Committee.
Stating that energy efficiency has been a priority for home builders for many years, Thompson said that NAHB members, who collectively build about 80% of all the new homes in the U.S., have been engaged in several public-private partnerships and have sponsored many residential energy events and programs to bring public awareness to residential energy efficiency.
He noted that NAHB is a partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Star Home Program, which, to date, has resulted in the construction of more than 500,000 homes built to standards that exceed the local building code.
NAHB also participates in DOE's Building America Program, which conducts systems engineering research to produce homes that consume 30 to 90% less energy on a community-wide basis; integrates Zero Energy Home technology and power systems; and boosts productivity with new energy-saving materials and technology.
Under current law, building codes must be approved and adopted at the state and local level. Thompson urged lawmakers to remove a provision in energy bill H.R. 3221 that would create a new code-writing role for the DOE for states that fail to achieve significant above-code benchmarks.
Thompson also called on Congress to extend and expand federal tax credits that passed as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, noting that this would encourage the construction of new energy efficient homes, promote the use of energy-saving home improvements for existing homes, and spur new innovation that will result in even greater energy savings in housing construction.