In an appearance on May 6 before the NAHB Executive Board to mark the success of the voluntary, market-driven Energy Star program, Governor Christine Todd Whitman, EPAs administrator, indicated that she is looking for new ways her agency can work with home builders to promote voluntary compliance with environmental regulations.Since NAHB joined with the EPA in 1995 as Energy Star partners, more than 100,000 homes in the country have received the Energy Star label by incorporating energy savings in design and construction and using 30% less energy for heating and cooling and hot water than a standard home.NAHB helped to design the program, which is managed by the EPA with assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy.
By joining together to extend our Energy Star label to your energy efficient homes, we are showing that good environmental practices and good business practices are not mutually exclusive, Whitman said. In fact, they go together like a hammer and nails.
More than 1,500 builders in all 50 states are producing Energy Star homes today, she said, including more than one out of every three of the top 100 builders in the U.S.
Last year alone, said Whitman, Energy Star products in housing and other industries helped consumers and businesses save more than $7 billion on their energy bills and save enough energy to power 15 million homes, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 14 million cars off the road.
Fielding questions from members of the NAHB Executive Board, Whitman indicated that she is willing to consider following voluntary guidelines that would enable builders to use best management practices to address such environmental concerns as lead-based paint.
But we have to see results from these, she said. If there is quantifiable evidence that this approach works, then we would be happy to go to voluntary compliance.
NAHB President Kent Conine noted that todays new homes are 100% more energy efficient than homes built in the 1970s because of voluntary programs like Energy Star that make it easy for builders to promote conservation to new home buyers, and new construction materials that help save on energy use.
Since the mid-1990s, he said, consumers have bought more than 450,000 homes built under NAHB-endorsed voluntary energy-efficiency partnerships among builders, utilities and other groups.
In addition to Energy Star, these include CertainTeeds Certified Plus Home, Comfort Home, Johns Manville Performance Home, Mascos Environments for Living and Alaska Craftsman Home Program.
Tight ducts, improved insulation, high performance windows, energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment and tight construction that reduces air infiltration are among the cost-efficient products and techniques that have improved the energy efficiency of U.S. homes.