From Niche to Mainstream: Green Home Building Gains Momentum

The NAHB and other home building professionals recognize the value of building green and incorporating sustainable elements into their standard business practices

By Sergio Flores

Crafting homes that are energy-efficient, healthy, for both the home owner and the environment, and all while presenting itself as a visually striking piece of architecture, is what the venerable movement of green home building is all about. What started as a small, niche market is quickly gaining traction and the recognition it deserves from other professionals in the home building industry, from builders, developers, manufacturers, designers, and such.

ABODO recently put a number to the rise of residential green construction per city, ranking Washington D.C. as the leader in LEED-certified construction, for both residential and commercial space. Our capital’s Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area was home to 183, 363, 548 square feet of residential, green certified space, and 310, 943, 355 of commercial square feet LEED certified. Focusing just on residential, the state of Texas takes the prize of most LEED-certified residential projects at 6,945.

In late September the NAHB reported a study that green construction was rapidly gaining traction among both single family and multifamily home builders, according to new research published in the Green Multifamily and Single Family Homes 2017 SmartMarket Brief by Dodge Data & Analytics.

“These findings show that green building has become an established part of the residential construction landscape,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas. “It is no longer a niche business; our members recognize the value of building green and are incorporating these elements into their standard business practices.”

“As consumers become more familiar with the impact that their homes can have on their health and well-being, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the influence of this factor continue to grow,” said Steve Jones, Dodge’s Senior Director of Industry Insights Research. “Homes are following the larger trend that Dodge has been tracking across commercial and institutional sectors for healthier buildings to become an increasingly important part of being sustainable.”

Building green isn’t new for some of the biggest builders, though, but certain code changes, for example California’s Title 24, are making energy-efficient building mandatory.

MBK Homes, one of California’s largest for?sale single and multi?family housing builders, has earned a reputation for delivering award-winning customer satisfaction in housing that is innovative in design, comfort, sustainability, and craftsmanship.  High performance building is at the core of every MBK project. Energy-efficient features include dual-glazed vinyl windows with low-E, energy-saving glass, tankless water heaters, and water-conserving toilets. Landscaping is designed to be water-conscious, and abuts the two-car attached garage and interior laundry spaces.

As MBK continues to build in California, they are keeping in mind the code changes occurring, such as Title 24, using these code changes as an opportunity to showcase its resiliency and innovation in construction and design. “T-24 requirements will help bring new energy efficient products to market that we will in turn be able to provide to our buyers,” explained Sunti Kumjim, VP of Development and Forward Planning. “Not only will new homes be more energy efficient they will also offer greater comfort levels for our homebuyers while integrating into our smart home technology. MBK Homes has a long history of cutting edge of product design and we welcome new T-24 requirements and their alignment with our vision of tomorrow’s MBK Home.”

More changes are due to come. According to the CA Energy Commission, ‘California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards are updated on an approximately three-year cycle. The 2019 Standards will continue to improve upon the 2016 Standards for new construction of, and additions and alterations to, residential and nonresidential buildings. The 2019 Standards will go into effect on January 1, 2020.’

Celis Brisbin, the Director of Operations at USGBC Massachusetts, where this year’s 2017 Greenbuild will take place, believes policy is where the green building movement is really going to take place, with several municipalities already changing the way homes will be built in the near future. When by 2020 all homes are built to ZNE standards, we’ll forget what we knew and adapt for the better. And it’ll have a positive effect on the economy. “I think codes are the vehicle that drives the market towards energy efficiency,” explained Brisbin. “There’s a gap because energy code is not based on greenhouse gas emissions, they’re based on cost savings. What California has done is offer state policy that complements code will also give greenhouse gas reduction qualities to their energy policy.”

Another builder showing the industry their innovation in green design is De Young Properties in their new community, De Young EnVision in Clovis, Calif. “Its green design and energy efficiency measures will enable homeowners to achieve extremely low energy bills, to live more comfortably, and to reduce their carbon footprint,” Brandon De Young, executive vice president. “De Young Properties saw the future of California and embraced it,” said Martha Brook, adviser to Commissioner Andrew McAllister at the California Energy Commission. “They worked with technology experts and industry partners to demonstrate that the state’s clean energy goals are not just attainable but also practical, affordable, and elegant.”

Sergio Flores
is an Editor for Green Home Builder magazine. He may be reached at