Home remodels, retrofits are key to energy efficient future says NAHB panelistsMortgagePress.comNAHB, remodels, retrofits, home builders, Green Day, International Builders Show, National Association of Home Builders, Ray Tonjes
As the nation's home builders embrace green building in growing
numbers, industry research indicates that even the most aggressive
efficiency goals for new homes wont make a dent in overall energy
Instead, remodeling and retrofitting the nation's older homes is
by far the more efficient solution, industry experts said at a
press conference today at the International Builders Show in Las
The panelists spoke as the National Association of Home Builders
commemorated Green Day, drawing attention to the green education
and certification programs offered by the association and the many
green products, supplies and materials on display this week in the
worlds largest home building industry show.
The home building industry can combat the potential effects of
global climate change by providing additional training to its
members and by encouraging home owners to alter some of their
habits, and make energy-efficient improvements to their homes, the
Federal energy officials estimate that Americans consume about
21 percent of the energy produced each year to operate and maintain
their homes: For heating, cooling and electrical appliances, from
stoves and refrigerators to televisions, computers and hair dryers.
"By just making thoughtful choices, we can reduce that impact,"
said Ray Tonjes, chair of the NAHB Green Building Subcommittee and
a green home builder in Austin, Texas.
"Energy efficiency is absolutely key to our nation's continued
security and to our economy. Additionally, we know that building
with energy conservation in mind is practical and profitable. My
industry has stepped up to the plate to prevent the effects of
global warming, but we call it responding to market demand," he
The greatest energy savings can be achieved by making changes to
existing housing, which is less energy efficient than today's new
homes. "We obviously cannot solve the problem by tearing down all
our inefficient housing stock and replacing it with new. We need to
make some significant improvements to our existing homes," Tonjes
Mike Hodgson, president of the California energy consulting
company ConSol, revealed the results of a study conducted for the
California Homebuilding Foundation last fall. Seventy percent of
the greenhouse gas emissions related to single-family envelope
energy consumption can be attributed to homes built before 1983,
the study found.
Further, the study demonstrated that pending $10,000
retrofitting a 1960s home could save 8.5 tons of carbon, a cost of
$588 to $1,176 per ton depending on tax credits and incentives. On
the other hand, increasing the energy efficiency of a new home 35
percent over current state requirements would cost about $5,000 and
would reduce emissions by 1.1 tons at a cost of $4,545 per ton.
"Simple arithmetic demonstrates how retrofitting existing homes
with energy-efficient features is four to eight times more carbon-
and cost-efficient than adding further energy-efficiency
requirements to new housing," Hodgson said.
Remodeler Devon Hartman of HartmanBaldwin, a Claremont, Calif.
design/build firm, said his customers are heeding the call. By
adding insulation and sealing and tightening the duct system in one
recent large home renovation project, Hartman was able to replace
four older heating and air conditioning units totaling 16 tons to a
new six-ton system. "We're no longer talking about just putting on
sweaters or lowering the thermostat. Were talking about creating
energy through efficiency measures," he said.
As more people turn to retrofitting and remodeling, demand
increases for so-called green jobs, skilled employees to either
manufacture or install components in the energy-efficient homes of
Frederick Humphreys is president and CEO of the Home Builders
Institute, which is the workforce development arm of NAHB,
discussed new initiatives to prepare and train these workers,
including major revisions of popular industry textbooks and other
training materials to reflect today's improved knowledge of
building science and green technology.
For more information, visit www.nahb.com.